Youtube Gets a Brand New Look

The new Youtube look brings it in line with the rest of Google’s products, but it still feels wrong.

The only company more confusing than Google these days is Netflix. Netflix took a product that was unimpeachable and instead of making it even better by adding game rentals, they completely undermined their business model through a string of confusingly bad decisions including trying to split the company into two pieces – one for streaming and one for mail-delivered rentals.

Google is making a series of odd choices as well. Lately they’ve gone on a product killing spree, knocking off some products that really nobody used or cared about – think Google Wave and Google Buzz – and hamstringing at least one that people really loved – Google Reader.
At the same time, Google has been redesigning many of their products, giving them a universal aesthetic modeled after the Google + look. This is one of the better ideas the company has had, and for the most part it’s been a good, albeit rocky, move toward universality.
This aesthetic has found its way to Youtube with a significant visual and social update. Here’s PC Mag’s Mark Hachman:

If you often visit the YouTube home page, you may be in for a bit of a shock. Although the individual video pages maintain YouTube’s clean, minimalistic look, the home page places an oversized banner ad at the top of the page (the current one appears to promote Disney’s John Carter movie, complete with video) plus a second square ad to the upper right.
A smaller nav bar below the ad shows any subscriptions the user has active, plus an option to show uploads only.
The left nav bar, however, pushes the social elements of YouTube video viewing. In addition to a small box showing your own personal details (such as My Channel, videos you’ve liked or set to Watch Later), there is another box for subscriptions, plus links to Facebook and Google+. Clicking these displays videos that your friends on either netwok have shared.
All of this makes sense in today’s social media world, but does it work?
I find the new Youtube home page cramped. It looks more like a blog than a robust video website. Fortunately it’s not as galling as the Reader redesign, but it doesn’t make use of clean open spaces the way that Google + has, and it doesn’t fit into the larger aesthetic nearly so well as I’d anticipated.
The massive banner ad at the top takes up way too much real estate (though I do understand that companies have to make money somehow.)
On the plus side, I do like being able to see the videos from my Facebook and Google + feeds so prominently displayed when I go to Youtube. This is a really helpful feature actually. And there’s plenty about the redesign that I haven’t explored yet.
I give the redesign an “A” for incorporating social networking into Youtube and a “C” for the design itself. Google’s head is in the right place – trying to bring their suite of sites up to date is a good idea, probably long overdue. But time and again it’s a swing and a miss.
Via Forbes.com

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