Monday, November 26, 2007

Usability And YouTube – What Makes YouTube So Successful In Spite Of Its Bad Usability?

A scholarly paper about the usability of Web 2.0 sites like YouTube ...

"Is YouTube a usable site? Is YouTube unprecedented success due to its audience passion or to some clever navigation and interface design solution? Are YouTube users having a great user experience when using the most popular video sharing site in the world or are they frustrated by non-sensical navigation but unwilling, due to the power of exposure, visibility and community to go video shopping anywhere else?

"YouTube has been the Internet success story of 2006. However, when subjected to conventional usability evaluation it appears to fail miserably. With this and other social Web services, the purpose of the user is fun, uncertainty, engagement and self expression.

Web2.0 has turned the passive ‘user’ into an active producer of content and shaper of the ultimate user experience.

This more playful, more participative, often joyful use of technology appears to conflict with conventional usability, but we argue that a deeper ‘usability’ emerges that respects the user’s purposes whether acting as homo ludens."

In this interesting academic research paper recently published by Paula Alexandra Silva and Alan Dix from Lancaster University, you can get a lot of insight into the whys and hows of YouTube tremendous online success.

1. Introduction

YouTube was last year’s Web success story.

A website that allows users to store and share personal videos, subsequently, linked, searched and/or rated, has gone from zero to 60% of all online viewing in just 18 months. Its huge and sudden popularity made it the Internet phenomenon of 2006.

However, when analyzed with conventional usability heuristics it fails many. So is the popularity in spite of this – the draw of the content meaning that YouTube can afford poor usability? Or is it more fundamental, conventional usability neglects or conflicts with the more ludic aims of the site?

We have become used to debates or even argument between user experience design and more Taylorist usability engineering.

However, Web2.0 sites, such as YouTube, add more complexity to this picture as the user becomes the producer.

In this paper, we explore some of these issues, first analyzing YouTube from a conventional usability standpoint and then exploring the reasons why this does not give a true indication of the real ‘usability’ of the system and how conventional conceptions may need to change… and where they do not."    (Continued via Robin Good, Paula Alexandra Silva and Alan Dix)    [Usability Resources]

YouTube on TV - Usability, User Interface Design

YouTube on TV

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