Tuesday, November 6, 2012

YouTube Now: How we design our site through experimentation

This is the second of a series called “YouTube Now,” in which we explain how we’re evolving the site, and why. Would you like to suggest a topic of interest to creators for a future YouTube Now? Please drop it in the comments below.

As a creator, you know by now that YouTube is always evolving. Over the past year, we’ve changed how the site looks and works, and these improvements have driven significant gains in subscriptions and the total time your fans are watching YouTube.

Every site change has a purpose. We know we’re doing it right when people subscribe to more channels and spend more time watching them.

When we upgrade YouTube in a major way, we’ll always give our creators advance notice, both here on this blog and at our creator meetups, Hangouts and social media.

But sometimes you may arrive at YouTube and notice that it looks unexpectedly different. Well, here’s what’s up. We experiment and test every change, big or small, by showing it to a small set of viewers. For example, last year we tested removing a thin border from around video thumbnails. Our experiment showed it resulted in a nearly 2% increase in clicks on suggested videos. So we pushed that change to everyone.

We don’t just test YouTube through online experiments, though. We also run in-person focus groups with a diverse set of people, some of whom subscribe to hundreds of channels, some of whom watch YouTube less frequently.

Right now, we’re in a period of intensive testing to build a new YouTube that supports longer viewing sessions and makes fan engagement more rewarding. (TechCrunch recently spotted one of these experiments, for example.)

How can you help us build the best YouTube? On every page there’s a “Send feedback” link. Tell us what’s working for you, and what’s not.

Thanks for your help as we continue to build the next version of YouTube for you and your fans. We’re lucky to have such a deeply engaged community here, and your feedback will help design the future of YouTube.

Eric Meyerson, head of content creator communications, recently watched Prophetic 1995 Student Internet PSA.
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