You may remember that YouTube overhauled the video page design back in January and opened it up to the general public on an opt-in basis. As Mark wrote at the time, there were a lot of changes that mostly revolved around cleaning things up and making it more intuitive for users to find the data they need.
Well, according to TechCrunch, that new design is officially switching from “you have to opt in to see it” to “you don’t have a choice anymore… here comes the new design” sometime today.
While there will be many users struggling to figure out where the embed code snippet went, this will—in the long run—be a good thing. Some of these changes are long overdue. Some are unexpected and interesting. But they’re almost all improvements over the previous design.
Let’s take a look again at the biggest differences:
- Embed code and URL are now below the video, as opposed to the right side. And they look different—they’re buttons now instead of text fields. This also results in the “related videos” sliding up further on that right sidebar, giving them more prominence.
- The star ratings are gone. That’s as much a features change as it is a redesign, but it’s worth noting. It’s been replaced by a “like” system. (On a side note, why does it always have to be thumbs up or thumbs down? One or the other? Is there no in-between choice for wishy-washy people like me who can’t decide if they like something or not?)
- Comments get a bump up, moving above the fold for most resolutions. (Because we all just can’t wait to start reading those YouTube comments!!)
- There are swanky little share buttons now, instead of simple text links for Facebook and MySpace.
There are many other tiny changes—other things you’re used to that are now in different places. YouTube, in fact, says this is the single largest overhaul of their design in history.
Along with the new look, there are some other new features as well. For instance, YouTube says the suggested videos on the right will be smarter—taking into account the methods you used to find the original video. That sounds pretty cool. There are also new controls for video size and quality. And you can also search from within the page while your video is playing without interrupting it—which is maybe my favorite of all the changes.
A lot of major sites will do a redesign simply because they feel like they are expected to redesign. YouTube, in this instance, appears to have gone about this change very intentionally, with solid usability reasons behind every single design change. I’m still getting the old design, so it hasn’t switched over yet, but it will apparently happen unilaterally sometime later today.