It’s been known for a couple of months now that Youtube was slowly launching its Beta channels to the public. When I created the Screencast pro channel last month, I was invited to try out the new Beta channel. I accepted the invitation, and here is what I think of the new channels:
For visitors, I don’t see a big difference. We find the same modules, and those were easy to understand in the old version. The innovation comes from the video player and the playlist in the sidebar: Visitors can watch all videos without refreshing the whole page. Only the video element refreshes. There is also a unique URL string for each event on the page.
The huge change is for channel owners. No more do we have to toggle the editing interface and the channel page to make a change and see how it looks. The edits are operable from the channel page, and changes are applied immediately. Also, no more transparent modules which colors were dependent of the background color.
The channel’s tags are editable from the channel page as well. My video content keeps evolving and transforming over the months. Channel’s tags are very important to make your video discoverable, so it is crucial to be constantly reminded that they can be easily updated.
In terms of look’n’feel, it is a big change, but nothing that will make most Youtube channels more beautiful (it’s like Myspace pages, they let users customize it, and it’s a mess). What changes is the modules’ management system: Now, the modules can be handled almost like widgets on an iGoogle page (hint). When I see Youtube’s Beta channels, I see: a lighter and widgetizable interface, which for me can only mean two things: mobile-compatible channels, and portability-ready through widgets. When you consider their last feature integration, the autoshare function, it is understandable that they now have to make their platform more mobile-ready.
Finally, there is one last addition to those channels that is worth noticing: Our profiles are also editable from the channel page. Before, if you filled in an info about yourself, it would automatically display it on your channel page. I wanted to let Youtube know who I was, but for my professional channels, I didn’t want to say “HyveUp, male’, for example. With the Beta channels, you can fill in all the info you wish, and select which one you want to be displayed on your channel.
Overall, I really like the new channels. Youtube is following the right direction there.