Effective June 5, 2013, YouTube (or more accurately, its parent company, Google) has fully implemented the new YouTube One Channel layout after several months of beta testing. If you’re a frequent YouTube visitor or poster, you must have seen plenty of annoying pop ups and announcements from YouTube telling you to upgrade to the new format or else, they will “automatically upgrade your channel by June 5.” Well, that date has now come and gone and sure enough, all channels are now voluntarily or not, updated to the new One Channel format.
Most of us were quite happy with our old channel look, especially if you had your own company channel properly branded with your own background image, logo, helpful links, favorite channels, etc. There was a time when having your own YouTube Channel was a true privilege and something that you had to work very hard at, not just to keep your channel looking good and attractive to your subscribers, but also to earn YouTube’s branded channel status. But not anymore. Pretty much anybody now can get their own channel, they all look pretty much the same and your customization possibilities have now been severely limited.
YouTube’s rationale (I’d like to say “YouTube’s excuse”, but rationale sounds more impartial) to update the channel layout yet again is to make the users’ browsing experience more consistent across all devices, whether you’re using a desktop, smart phone or a tablet. In other words, their new design is more Responsive than the previous one. That is definitely a plus. YouTube also claims that the new layout will boost the number of viewers that become subscribers although that remains to be seen.
So what exactly does the new layout offer compared to the old Channel layout? Here’s a quick list of the new features as described by YouTube:
Make your first impression count: YouTube wants to help you convert new visitors into real subscribers. To that effect, any viewers can become subscribers if you win them over. With the new design, YouTube allows you to feature a custom trailer that plays only when non-subscribed viewers arrive at your channel. This is your chance to let them know what your channel is all about and encourage them to subscribe. In other words, you can add a short video introduction describing your channel and inviting new visitors to subscribe to it.
Customize your channel once, watch it look great on all platforms. I’ve already written enough articles on this Blog about the importance of Responsive Website Design and YouTube is just reinforcing this thought. Nowadays, people will watch your videos from all sort of platforms and mobile devices, different locations, and from anywhere they go. The new One Channel Responsive design will look good and maintain a consistent feel on all devices and screen resolutions. The trick is to follow YouTube’s Channel Art Guidelines very accurately to ensure that the design is compliant. YouTube will not accept images or formats that will not comply with their particular specs below.
Present your content in a unique way. The new layout and functionality allows you to take greater control over how your videos and playlists are presented on your channel. A unique feature is that you can now curate content — your own or others’ — by placing it in highly visible sections so that your subscribers and fans will easily discover what to watch. With multiple layouts for videos and playlists, you can also organize the layout of your channel highlight your content as you feel is best.
According to YouTube, “Now, when your subscribers click on your channel from the guide, your full channel appears instead of just your activity feed. Your fans see exactly what you want them to when they click on your channel.”
Like I said at the start of this article, I think YouTube had a good idea with the new features and the move to a more Responsive design, however, I also think that the execution of their idea looks pretty basic. In reality, for what I’ve seen so far, all channels now “look” the same. Same white background, same layout, same overall design, etc. Not much customization allowed; just a lot of work now to update all of our clients’ channels to something that visually doesn’t look much more appealing. Time will tell if it is more effective or not as far as capturing more subscribers and improving the viewer experience.
So what is your opinion? Do you like the new One Channel better than the old Channel layout and features? Feel free to leave your comments below, I’d love to hear your opinion.
Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)