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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Confusing New YouTube Player

If the user interface ain’t broken, don’t fix it... but fixing, Google did, and recently released a new YouTube player that is breaking some of the “learned” interface. Below you can see an example of a new style YouTube player:

Usually, the red indicated the buffer status. A typical use case is that you hit play, then hit pause, and then let the player finish buffering in one browser window or tab while you continue reading in another window. In other words, you’re waiting for the red line to reach the right end, so that you can then watch the whole video fluently in one go.

Only that with the new YouTube player design, the red line will never reach the right end. Google’s/ YouTube’s not-so-brilliant decision: red now indicates the current position in the video. Which is redundant, as that is already indicated by the little gray bevel circle, but OK. The buffer status on the other hand is now indicated by a darker gray color – as opposed to the lighter gray color of unbuffered parts. Check below:

Unless you watch the player the whole time (or spend extra time thinking about the interface – which already indicates bad usability), you will find it hard to even differentiate between the two gray tones. In above use case – hitting pause, to then switch to another window – the buffering indicator has thus been practically lost for casual purposes.

In the forum, David Hetfield agreed saying “I’ve been waiting for hours for a video to load, but then i realised it has already been loaded.. It’s really annoying!”


On another note, have you tried telling someone to check out a specific part in the video? The YouTube player only indicates remaining time. “Check out minute minus 3.22” is not very intuitive, though. But wait, you can click on the time indicator to change it from negative to positive display. Is that easy to discover though – again, assuming you don’t spend a lot of time exploring the YouTube player (which is only one of many web video players, each with their own interfaces)?


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