If you have been using Youtube any time recently than you have probably noticed this goofy little bar sitting at the bottom of your screen. Now, I’m not going to pretend to be any kind of expert in UI design, but one of the key themes is that if you are setting a standard for how your videos operate, than you probably shouldn’t go about trying to make a change so drastic that the user actually has to change their mouse gestures. The theory here is that you can change the look and feel, but try to keep the core controls in the same place.
This design is of course a major departure from that design, placing some of the controls for going from movie to movie and placing them inside this black little transparent box at the bottom of the screen. The problem with this kind of shadow box is that it almost always steps on top of the controls for the actual movie as the page is loading. This is a problem for folks who just want to read the comments or see the statistics for the movie because they are having to push down that little bar first. Now I am sure that there is some youtube option that will allow you to either keep the bar permanently hidden or something of the likes, but the problem is that it is actually adding the chrome around the screen space.
One of the first things that you learn in web design is that you have to make very careful use of the screen space you have, and always be aware of how to make sure it is your website that is sticking out, and not trying to blend in with the browser. The browser chrome should very much be its own thing, and your website should never start to look like it. This is more for the common users and things like those fake security alerts. It is just something that we have taught users to avoid clicking for all these years for fear that they might stumble across it and actually go and download malware or something similar. As such, you try to make sure that legitimate websites look different from the browser chrome. This new youtube bar doesn’t accomplish this and instead looks a great deal like the browser as it sits right on the bottom of the browsers viewing window.
There is also the issue that these controls were previously in the sidebar that youtube had made itself famous with. When you add this to the fact that the bar itself is pretty inconsistent you get this mixture of confusion and subtle rage from your users. It wouldn’t be so bad except the bar only shows itself when you are browsing subscriptions, favorites, or anything which would contain multiple videos on your user’s page. If you just go to some random video, the retard bar won’t show itself for fear of being called fat and ugly [which it is].
But yes, as youtube slowly continues to meta-morph from a perfectly workable video hosting website into some kind of god awful 6 limbed demon beast who feast on the flesh of small children and their copyrighted songs, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps they don’t actually use their site anymore. I mean I know they have to listen to at least 5 people before they can push out things that change key components of the site, so you know that at least 5 people saw this little bar at the bottom and thought to themselves “Yeah this is something I’ve always wanted”.
I wish they’d just take a page from the Hulu book and keep the video up top, some user controls in a menu above the video, and other videos down below. I would try to make some space for the comments somewhere, but in all seriousness the quality of youtube would actually improve if people weren’t allowed to comment.