Last night my wife called me in from the other room to show me a YouTube video she found hilarious. I think it was cat-related, but honestly don’t remember. What I do remember is that the bar at the bottom of the video–where the play button is–wasn’t the typical light grey I am used to… instead, it was black. As soon as I noticed that, my poor wife’s cat video lost my attention completely. 

I tried to get the new black player to show up on my own laptop, and even my desktop. I tried every browser I own, but couldn’t get it to show me anything other than the traditional grey YouTube player. Which means there’s some kind of test going on.

A quick Google search revealed this blog post on the Google System Blog that confirmed a test was indeed running. Here’s a screenshot of the new black progress bar on the new player:

According to the Google System Blog (which is not an official Google blog), the intent of the new player design is to let the progress bar blend into the background more, so the viewer can focus on the actual video content. Which sounds like a perfectly logical goal to me. Though I have to admit, the first time I noticed the black bar last night, it had the opposite effect–drawing my attention away from the video because of its newness.

Here’s a quick video one user took of the bar in action in the wild:

Man, it’s kind of hilarious to me that the video talking about the new progress bar and new player skin is currently showing in the old player with the old progress bar.

Anyway, I’m sure there will be the usual level of user revolt we tend to see whenever a major website tweaks its design, but it should level off pretty quick. After all, this is a fairly small change in the grand scheme of things. It’s not as though it’s a completely new video player.

One other interesting note: Search Engine Watch says that Google is also testing a new black navigation bar on their site. Black is the new light grey, apparently.

What do you think of the new progress bar design? Do you think it’s an improvement over the old one, or an unnecessary change to something that was working just fine?