UI Design Bad Example: Sins of the New Youtube Layout

Just a few days ago, Youtube changed its layout. Many people’s reactions to are “What happened” “Why everything looks different?” “Where did the old video page go?”. I’ve had my experience with the new layout for a little bit. I think now it’s time to make my comments on why I think the new layout “sucks”.

First let’s exam why Youtube changed its layout in the first place. Youtube did this for making their sites more compatible across mobile platforms. Starting with the first generation iPhone, people are using their phone, and tablet more for browsing the internet.   This is because mobile devices are easy to carry around, and you can open and start using them instantly instead of having to go through the trouble of reaching your laptop from you bag and waiting for it to boost up. The problem with mobile devices is that they all have drastically different screen resolution and width to height ratio. Making a separate app for every platform is an insane amount of work. So Youtube decided to just change its home page layout and make it compatible for all platforms. This decision is made from an engineering perspective, meaning using new technology to technical problems, not from a usability perspective. This is often time where usability issues starting to arise.

The first and worst sins of Youtube is its white background. I think we can draw inspiration of this video talking about why using black text on white background for presentation is a “no”.

The video compares black text on white background for presentation to looking at a light bulb when it’s on. I’m gonna compare using a white background for a video streaming site to having all the lights on while playing movies in a movie theater. You have all the lights shooting at you with its full power, so it’s not relaxing at all. People get tired really easy.

The second sin of the new Youtube layout is the white space on the right of the screen. I criticized one of the presentation for UR4 for noting using the full screen. This is the same case here. It’s totally fine with me if Youtube wants to fit more stuff in the screen of mobile devices, but it’s not OK to let us PC users suffer from that. I think at least they should have the curtesy of making everything centered, and having two side bars on each side.

As for viewing videos, youtube decided to change it back to the way it was recently. So I’m not gonna further comment on that.

In the end, I wish when people integrate new technology to their product, they can think from the user’s perspective. It’s not always about staying on top of the newest technology. People love youtube for the content that’s on there, for the freedom to show off whatever they want, not for the technology. I sincerely hope that youtube can realize that. Otherwise, they may just drive people away to a different social platform.



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