YouTube’s new site design finally went live for everyone sometime early this morning. The new layout is “cleaner, simpler,” emphasizes channels and subscriptions, and is compatible across all devices. (For insight into what's new, check out Test Driving YouTube's Secret New Site Design.)
And, like every new layout change, the YouTube community already seems to hate it, having uploaded dozens - if not hundreds- of videos bashing it already. Change is rough.
Ever since Cosmic Panda, the layout change instituted around this time in 2011, YouTube has been emphasizing watch-time as opposed to discovery of content or navigation. This new layout further emphasizes the channels you are subscribed to by grouping them into a “Guide” that follows you across every video you view, prominently displayed on the left-hand side of the screen:
According to YouTube's Senior Unicorn eXperience Designer Josh Sassoon and Staff Engineer Alex Nicksay in the official YouTube blog post announcing the new design: “the Guide lets you know when there are new videos waiting for you to enjoy, suggests the latest and greatest channels you might like, and shows you what your friends are sharing across the web.”
While this works great for established YouTubers used to getting their daily entertainment from the video-sharing powerhouse - who are likely already subscribed to who and what they want to see, the new design does little to help newbies figure out what they might like or how to find new content.
One of the best features about the old design, before Cosmic Panda, was how easy it was to discover new content on the homepage. The homepage used to break down top videos into various categories - sports, news, beauty, comedy, etc. - but Cosmic Panda revamped the front page to a Facebook-style destination - making finding new content more difficult.
The new site design does offer a “recommended” section on the far right hand side, but as many layout haters on YouTube have already pointed out, they never use it, or even notice it. I am inclined to echo their sentiments.
Beyond that, the layout does look more professional and inviting to Internet visitors, of which YouTube said it receives 800 million monthly.