Friday, 29 January 2010

YouTube Davos Debates 2010: Your Pitch To The World

My name is Julia Lalla-Maharajh. Earlier this week I was working out of my flat in south London trying to find a path to increase global awareness about Female Genital Mutilation. Now thanks to you, the YouTube community, I have spent the past four days taking this issue to some of the most powerful people on the planet at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

So far this week I’ve had a chance to meet with the head of UNICEF Ann Veneman, the President of Senegal and the Managing Director of the World Bank, among many others. I’ve also been able to corner the likes of Bill Clinton, David Cameron and Melinda Gates and plead my cause walking down a corridor, “West Wing”-style trying to get my point across.

World leaders come to Davos expecting to talk macro economics or corporate governance. But this year they were accosted by a woman talking far too rapidly on the issue of female genital mutilation. You could see them freeze for a second, a look of shock cross their face, and just after they catch their breath I give them the elevator pitch. Here are the major points that I try to get across to world leaders to try and convince them that it is now time to act:

• As many as three million girls in Africa are at risk every year of being cut.

• This is not just an issue in Africa. Up to 20,000 in the UK are at risk. The practice extends all the way from the US to Indonesia.

• Often the procedure is done by an older woman with no medical training, no anaesthesia and little concern regarding hygiene.

• The cutting is not just a dangerous procedure, it’s a means of men being able to assert their control over women’s lives and bodies.

What is needed now is for all of us to assert more pressure on our governments to make the eradication of this practice a global priority. We cannot expect to improve the conditions in the developing world without first ensuring that women are in control of their own bodies and ultimately their own destinies.

Watch the videos of my adventures in Davos. And please visit my site to find out how you can help.

Julia Lalla-Maharajh, Winner, The YouTube Davos Debates 2010: Your Pitch To The World.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Video Page Gets A Makeover

From the Queen of England to the queen of your 'hood, from aspiring filmmakers to Hollywood studios, from high school graduation videos to citizen reports of revolutionary moments in Iran, everything has a home on YouTube. This creates a really big challenge: how do we design a site that reflects so many different users, experiences and videos? This is a question we've thought about a lot since we launched in 2005. The result of some of this thinking (some might say over-thinking) is a video page packed with features that reflect a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but can feel cluttered and a little overwhelming. We've spent a lot of time over the last 10 months asking ourselves some tough questions about this page and posing some of those questions to you in blog posts, roundtable discussions, one-on-one conversations with the community and even on forums like our Product Ideas for YouTube page.

Today, we're excited to unveil the first major example of our efforts to simplify and streamline the video page to offer the best possible watching experience. To check out this new look all you have to do is opt-in. Click on this link to try it out (anyone can opt-in, but for now page elements are only in English). To revert back to the old video page, use the opt-out link at the top of the new video page or opt out here. We'll be making the opt-in more easily accessible soon, but we wanted to give our most passionate users a chance to experiment with it early.

Below are some highlights of some of the things that have changed and why. You can also check out our "Getting Started Guide" in the Help Centre.

Streamlined look and functionality -- the video is the star: This concept is at the heart of the redesign. YouTube is about creating and watching the world's biggest video collection; therefore, the design should make the video the star. To that end, the new look is more subdued, stripped down and simple than before. The design should help ease users into advanced features, while providing power users with all the functionality they want.

New "next up" video list: We'll be smarter about queuing up other videos for you to watch on the right side of the page that will take into consideration how you found a video. For example, if you arrived at a video through Search, the rest of the search results will follow you to the playback page so your can continue to browse search results on the video page. The same goes for playlists and recommendations; if that's how you found a video, then that's what will show up on the right side of the page. Again, this is about creating a consistent viewing experience -- and a relevant one when we include context about your viewing intentions.

Description and stats areas united:
More specific information about the video you're watching is now in one place on the page: underneath the video. Click on the "Description" snippet or the Views to see more. This new expand capability works on multiple elements of the page so you won't have to learn a new trick to view each piece of data. The result: less clutter, especially on the right side where you look for the next video to watch.

Cleaned up actions bar: Actions like sharing, rating, saving or flagging a video are now all grouped in one place, with a cleaner, simpler "button bar." We thought a lot about practicality here, choosing to expose only the most commonly used actions and language for you. And, "Playlists" can now be built via the "Save to" pulldown menu.

Simplified binary ratings: As we noted in an earlier blog post, the rating system on YouTube doesn't really work that well (e.g. only the 1 and 5 star ratings were ever really used). So we moved towards a simpler "Like / Don't Like" model. Liking a video will also save it to your Favorites to make it easy to find those videos again.

New player sizing and video quality controls: We're adding a new size control into the player that allows you to pick a larger size to watch your video (formally above the player). When you pick the size, we'll serve you the ideal quality. For those of you hungry for more control, you can pick the specific video quality (for example, SD, HD or 1080p) in an associated drop-down menu. We'll warn you when we think there may be a better quality choice, but the control is in your hands.

Search results within the page: Now you can now search while you're watching a video and results will appear on the right side of the video page, without interrupting the viewing experience.

More prominent channel/subscriber placement and a new "see more videos" feature: Subscriptions are important to many of you, so we've made it more noticeable by moving the "Subscribe" button to the top of the video right near the title. This also gives anyone the ability to quickly peek at more videos from the creator's channel. (Just click on the arrow next to the number of uploads on the person's channel to see more videos from that user.) You've told us that making you hunt for this information on the page is confusing and many of you wanted this data in one place. This should make it easier to discover more content from videographers you like.

So those are just a few things you'll find in this new video page experience. As with all things on the Web (and in life?), change is hard and can take some time to get used to. That's why we did a lot of research, talked with so many of you and incorporated your thoughts into this latest back-to-basics playback page. So go on and "opt-in" to give it a whirl, and let us know what you think either in comments down below or enter feedback via this survey. Who knows -- you might see some of your own suggestions in future iterations of the page down the road.

Julian Frumar, User Experience Designer, recently watched "WTF Collective," and Igor Kofman, Software Engineer, recently watched "Zion-I featuring K. Flay - "Coastin'" [The Takeover]."

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Spring Cleaning Comes Early To YouTube

Update: Reminder: Please enter feedback here, in our new Product Ideas page.


The excitement of the new decade and our upcoming fifth anniversary has the YouTube team itching to make the site experience better than ever before. We have all kinds of ideas about new things we could build and launch, but we are also taking some significant time in the coming months to do some early "spring cleaning" on the site design and user experience.

What will this mean to you? Well, it means you'll see some things about the site design evolving to be more consistent across the site. And some things that haven't worked as smoothly as we would have liked them to will get the attention they deserve. Lastly, we may determine that some things we tried out just didn't fly and remove them from the site.

We'll be using a number of inputs to build our "to do" list: usage data that shows the things you use the most versus things that very few people use; usability testing that can help us understand what's broken that needs fixing; and, last but not least, we'd like to hear from you directly...

What would you want to see fixed on the site? What would you remove completely, if you could? We'll use your feedback to help prioritise what we focus on, so we can all experience a cleaner, easier-to-use YouTube.

Please enter your feedback here and/or browse and vote on ideas others have had. We'll take a few weeks to digest your comments and will respond directly to the ideas you're most excited about.

Margaret Stewart, User Experience Manager, recently favorited "Christmas Tree Rocketry: The Art and Science of Holiday Recycling."

Monday, 11 January 2010

Subscriptions Enhanced With Bulletins, Progress Bar & Ability to Remove Videos

The subscription system delivers videos from content creators to eager viewers and has become such an essential part of YouTube that that "subscribe" button is clicked over 1 million times every day. That's a lot -- which is why we're especially focused on improving the reliability, usefulness and transparency of subscriptions.

First off, you've told us that you want ways to message your subscribers. Now, the bulletins you write on your channel will appear on your subscribers' homepages, in their "Recent Activity" module. If you go to your channel -- let's say it's celebrityplaylists -- you should see an area to write a bulletin and attach a video:

...which looks like this when your subscribers see it in their homepage feed:

Note that these bulletins will only show up for people who subscribed to you after September 2009. If you subscribed to someone before September and want to receive their bulletins, simply visit their channel, click the "Edit subscription" link, and choose "Subscribe to all videos uploaded, rated, favorited, and commented on."

We've also heard from many of you that after you upload a video, you'd like to feel more confident that it's actually made its way to your subscribers' homepages. Recently, we rolled out a new indicator that shows the syndication status of your video after it's been uploaded; once it reaches 100% you can rest assured that all your subscribers have received your video. Here's an example of what this looks like:

Please keep in mind that after your upload finishes processing, it starts getting sent out to the
people subscribed to you, though it can take up to an hour to reach everyone. (In rare cases, it might take longer than an hour.) This short delay helps us fight spam and preserve the overall integrity of the system.

Finally, you can now delete individual items from your subscription feed. Click "edit" options for the subscriptions module and check "Exclude videos I've already watched" (see below). Once you've done this, hover over videos in the module to see a small "x" that will allow you to remove it from the module, making way for more videos from the people you follow.

We'd love to read comments below about other subscription system improvements you'd like to see.

Brian Glick, Product Manager, recently subscribed to 73368's channel.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Want To Check Out The Latest New Music Acts? YouTube Can Help…

As end-of-year critics’ lists go, the BBC’s Sound Of… series is well worthy of note. Past acts that have topped the annual poll of music critics, DJs and producers include 50 Cent, Keane, The Bravery, Corinne Bailey Rae, Mika, Adele and Little Boots – so it will be interesting to learn which act will come out on top of the 15-strong longlist.

Happily, the overwhelming majority of these performers have seen fit to develop a presence on YouTube, be that via their own channels or through the labels that have signed them. Today we are spotlighting four acts on the homepage who are already using the service as a means to connect with their audiences -- Marina And The Diamonds, Everything Everything, Daisy Dares You and Owl City -- whether that be by uploading official videos, live performances or vlogs.

However, if you want to see examples from all of those who have been longlisted, then see the playlist below:

Here’s to a musical 2010. Just remember: if you want to get a taste of the best new music first, YouTube is the perfect place to start.

Have fun,

Jamie Dolling, Community Editor, YouTube UK, recently watched "Ghetts - Skadoosh".