YouTube goes social with new design update
YouTube’s recent re-design, the biggest in its six year history, reflects a major departure from its heritage as a traditional linear video website in favour of a more socially orientated network.
At the heart of the newly designed video website is a channel feed in the centre of the homepage packed full of videos which have been shared by a user’s friends on it’s sister site Google+.
On the left hand side there is a channel feed, designed to encourage users to subscribe to their favourite channels and programmes, as well as clear navigation to popular and trending content. There are also large Facebook and Google+ buttons which also make it easier than ever to share content with friends.
The most exciting thing about the changes though is what they will do for the website and the way we view video online. The central news feed will increase opportunities for content discovery with a constant stream of shared content from your Google+ friends. Part of the fun of YouTube is that it is a bit of a procrastinator at times. This development now delivers new and exciting content to you directly, making it possible to discover more content. The other benefit of this is that it has the potential to make videos go viral faster. Discovery and sharing is key to making a video go viral. YouTube has recognised this and fully tailored its new look to this very purpose for the benefit of its users.
The changes are hardly surprising though given Google’s big push to widen the social side of its business. It’s third attempt to enter the social web, Google+, which let’s not forget, only launched a little over 100 days ago, has already proven to be huge success. However whilst it may have already hit the 50 million user mark, there is still some discussion to be had about its role within the digital landscape.
The key thing to remember is that Google+ is not a new social network and it’s wrong to compare it to Facebook. It’s a platform which is designed to revolutionise the way we interact online, share content and communicate with each other. Google+ is not one single product, it’s a platform which allows Google to incorporate social elements into all of its products and services. That’s what the black bar is designed to do and why there are direct links to Google search and YouTube within Google+.
The long term benefit for users though will come as YouTube moves closer to its goals to get as much professional content on the site as possible in addition to user-generated content and more user content channels. The later of those three, especially in the UK, is still a working progress for the Google-owned-site. Currently only Channel 4 and Channel Five have signed syndication deals with the website, while other content owners have preferred to create their own channels and distribute their content themselves. YouTube will no doubt be hoping this new look will move closer to bridging this gap. However, if nothing else what YouTube’s facelift does do, is make video incredibly social and prove Google+ is so much more than a social network. Facebook it most certainly is not. Dare I say it, it’s better.