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[ NNSquad ] An Excellent YouTube Redesign - With a Painful Flaw for Older Eyes

     An Excellent YouTube Redesign - With a Painful Flaw for Older Eyes


With considerable justified fanfare, Google has launched a major
redesign of YouTube, that emphasizes user "channels" and social
features, positioning the service to be an ever more formidable (and
as far as I'm concerned, very welcome) competitor to traditional
television.  Much has been written elsewhere about these definitely
positive changes.

But there is one aspect of the redesign that caught my eye --
literally -- and had me initially scrambling to determine if I was
suddenly having browser configuration problems or other browser-based

While it's common to think of YouTube mainly in terms of the videos
themselves, there's a lot of text on YouTube as well.  This includes
various descriptive materials, comments, user video dashboard
controls, and so on.

For example, user comments on videos are an important social feature
of YouTube.  I read and moderate large numbers of them submitted every
day on my own YouTube video uploads.

So I was startled to see that the YouTube redesign has currently
switched from a crisp, black on white design for most detailed texts,
to an extremely low contrast black on gray that frankly, is a bona
fide pain in the eyeballs for anyone with less than perfect vision,
and that category includes vast numbers of us with naturally "aging"
eyes that are an inescapable fact of life.

Here is how the text now appears for a chunk of comments on my 
"Deleting Your Facebook Account" video ( http://j.mp/fb-delete [YouTube] ):

http://j.mp/yt-gray  (Lauren's Blog [JPG Image])

You can zoom up the text in standard browsers of course, and that
helps a bit, but the lack of contrast is still a big problem, and much
zooming tends to degrade from the overall page view experience on many
Web pages in general.  (As an aside, tiny fonts in smartphone apps
that can't be easily enlarged are another constant struggle for many
of us in these same cohorts!)

To be sure, black on gray text isn't always a problem.  I've used it
myself with relatively thick stroke fonts.  But when the chosen fonts
have relatively thin strokes as in the new YouTube case, the contrast
goes south fast, and the result is something of a gift to opticians.

User interface design is at least as much an art as a science, and
Google doesn't make capricious changes.  So I'm puzzled as to how this
particular text display aspect was vetted, which seems to clearly (no
pun intended) degrade from a primary functionality, at least for a
significant percentage of users.

I'm all for artistic embellishments in user interfaces -- when they
don't interfere with the actual use of those interfaces themselves.

As it stands, an overall wonderful new YouTube redesign has been made
less comfortably accessible to many users, and that can't help but
discourage its use.

And that "looks" like an outcome that would be a real shame.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org 
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com 
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com 
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com