In January, YouTube began beta testing a new site layout, which reps said would simplify the viewing experience, and strip the Google-owned site of all the noisy clutter it has accumulated in recent years. Today, the YouTube redesign was rolled out – and it's definitely a doozy, affecting everything from the rating system (the new YouTube replaces the star rating system with a simple thumbs up or down) to the recommended videos column.
"As you may know, we're in the midst of one of the largest redesigns in YouTube's history: we're simplifying the look and functionality of the video page," YouTube software engineer Igor Kofman wrote on the company blog. "That's the page you see whenever a video plays, and this redesign is about going 'back to basics,' focusing attention on the reason why you came to YouTube in the first place – the video – and all the ways you engage with content and creators."
Kofman said the changes were in large part spurred on by comments from regular users. "We know this is a big change, but we hope you'll find the new page to be an improvement to your YouTube experience and to be a reflection of what you've told us thus far through your usage of the site and your comments to us," he wrote. Included in the redesign: a new "highlights view" for the comments section, a fresh playlist interface, and improved embed controls.
The most noticeable part of the YouTube redesign is the discovery system, which now dominates the right column of every video page. YouTube says the site is now "smarter about suggesting the next videos to watch based on how you found the video you're watching in the first place." No details on how the recommendations have been rejiggered – but it's safe to say, from a brief test of the new site, that the algorithm is certainly churning up more relevant clips.
Of course, as Facebook can attest, panning a site redesign is a favorite pastime on the web, and YouTube users were quick to pile on. "Preferred the old design by some margin," one user wrote in the comments section of the company blog. "This new one is clean but dull and awkward to use." Others weren't so restrained. "It's HORRIBLE!!!!!!! Where's HISTORY? Where's HOME? I WANT THE OLD PAGE BACK!!!!," an overexcited detractor exclaimed.
Talk to us. Is the YouTube redesign really that bad? If we get enough comments, we'll post the best responses in a new blog post. Just lay off the caps, please.