2017: Research, Visual Design, Animation
Introducing a new way to connect with members of the youtube community. Youtube Stage brings back the community features from Youtube's earlier history in a new way. Created along with teammates, Sharon Yu and Faith Kaufman, we brought data visualization to life through motion and responded to the data with an exploratory probe.
In the beginning of the project, we collected data from many different social media platforms. We began by researching several social media networks including Instagram, Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Reddit. Looking at both mobile and web interfaces, we examined visual features, as well as the differences in interactions.
During this stage of research, we were unaware of where this data would appear to or how to present all of our findings. With the goal of optimizing a functionality within one social media platform, we compared different the different sites by looking at hierarchy, typography, layout, sitemaps, functional analysis, and iconography. Through analyzing typography, we started to see a pattern in the way some functionalities were prioritized over others. This led us to looking at the importance of hierarchy different platforms placed on certain functions. As we began to focus on our points of interest, we realized that these platforms varied in their strategies of communication.
We decided to focus on Youtube, which we noticed had mostly one-to-many social interactions. We created a sitemap to show how difficult, or how many clicks were required to get to a private message feature. We thought Instagram was an interesting comparison to Youtube, since it was highly visual, but made it very easy to directly message another member of the community.
Realizing that there was a lack of user-to-user communication methods within Youtube, the team wanted to introduce a feature that fostered better communication catering to Youtube's tight community. Looking into the history of Youtube starting from 2005, we realized that it used to have a lot of functions that engaged the community with features like 'Video Contests', 'Last Five Users Online,' 'Friends,' and 'Community.' As we moved forward in the years, we saw that Youtube increasingly began to take away for hide these kinds of features from their homepage.
For further analysis, we wanted to hear from long time Youtube members and get their input on Youtube's community features. One such Youtuber, Cyriak Harris, who wrote that "Youtube seems to have destroyed or buried most of its community tools over the years, and long ago I stopped reading my private messages on there (assuming they even still exist)." As of 2017, Youtube has become less of a community and now resembles a tv station, producing content for users that aren't necessarily part of the Youtube community. Compared to Youtube, social media platforms like Instagram affords a lot more dialogue between users yet still allows for personalities and creators to share their work freely.
For our probe, we wanted to capture the depth of our findings and show it in an abstracted manner. In this way, we were able to move away from conventional wireframes and tell the story of our findings through this motion piece. In this piece, we used boxes to represent Youtube's functions and show the way they have changed through the years.
When analyzing Youtube and Instagram, two visual platforms, we tracked the user’s path from the Home page to various communication functions, noting how many times the interaction was repeated. What we discovered were two main types of communication: one-to-one and one-to-many. While Youtube had primarily one-to-many communication, Instagram had more one-to-one communication functions. Youtube’s main form of commenting is a visible discussion with the entire community. Additionally, it took many clicks from Home to be able to privately message another Youtube content creator. Instagram, on the other hand, offered more intimate forms of discussion with features like private messaging, which are about as easily accessed as regular commenting.