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Technology

YouTube, please give me back my old homepage

YouTube rolled out a new layout for its homepage a couple of weeks ago, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s made using YouTube feel like an utter chore.

Complaining about YouTube product updates is run-of-the-mill online. Little tweaks usher in frustrated sighs as people try to figure out how to get things back to normal. I usually bite my tongue: sprucing up the platform to keep it feeling new is important, and there are usually deeper reasons behind the changes, such as tweaks being made to make life easier for new or casual users.

But YouTube’s latest homepage redesign changes the entire browsing experience for the worse. The homepage used to be broken up into a number of different, easily digestible sections. Algorithmic recommendations would be at the top, followed by a section of videos that were recently uploaded and featured channels you’ve shown interest in but don’t necessarily subscribe to. Scrolling further down the page, you’d find additional sections for relevant interests or creators, such as Music or Shane Dawson. Changes are coming to the new homepage — some which will bring versions of this design back — but there’s no estimated timeframe.

Now, all those sections are gone, replaced with an endless feed of recommended videos that may be tangentially related to your interests, spanning the last decade.

Sometimes, YouTube might recommend a video from a few hours ago (like a clip from The Tonight Show featuring Tom Hiddleston auditioning as Thor) or a day ago (Billie Eilish’s performance at the American Music Awards). More often than not, I’ve found a mix of random topics and nearly decade-old videos that make it more difficult and annoying to find new videos or creators than before.

I’m not alone in struggling with the redesign. Take a short trip to Reddit’s most popular YouTube forum or glance at the comments section of a recent YouTube video, and it’s apparent I’m not the only one feeling increasingly frustrated.

One Reddit user said they “haven’t really used YouTube since” the change. Another Reddit user wrote that if YouTube listened to people’s complaints, it would “know how much everyone hates this.” Another put it, perhaps, most succinctly: “this new homepage is ass.”

Changes are coming to YouTube’s homepage design on desktop, YouTube confirmed to The Verge. Eventually, people will be able to refine their homepage experience. For example, a version of “Recently Uploaded,” which will filter videos on the homepage to show most recent additions, will be available — but they won’t appear as rows. The company hopes it will be a better experience for users in the long run.

YouTube’s homepage is crucial for creators, too. YouTubers feel like landing on the front page helps drive traffic, as many creators have said in the past. Internal analysis run by the company shows that views on creators videos weren’t impacted. YouTube is vast, with more than 500 hours of content uploaded every minute. Having a focused selection of titles helped people quickly browse relevant offerings.

Users see fewer videos at once because of the redesign, a YouTube spokesperson confirmed to The Verge earlier this month. The representative said that viewers get more information about each video they’re seeing, though, and that allows creators to use longer titles. The goal is to give people using the platform more detail about a video from a quick glance.

Back when there was some level of organization — both through a limited recommended selection at the top of the page and distinct rows like “recently uploaded” — it helped to make YouTube feel tailored specifically to me, someone who watches an exorbitant amount of YouTube. Now, YouTube’s homepage gives me the same problem Netflix’s main screen does: endless scrolling. Except, instead of scrolling past some of my favorite TV shows, Oscar-winning movies, and interesting-looking titles I’ve never heard of, YouTube’s homepage is mostly videos I have no interest in ever watching. The homepage doesn’t feel tailored to me anymore. It’s just a host of different videos that someone, somewhere might like — but I don’t.

Creators have complained about the changes, too. Constant changes to YouTube affect creators all the time, and they’ve learned how to navigate those changes, adapting to survive and thrive. Some things don’t need to change, though; the homepage was one of those things.

I spend a lot of time on YouTube — partially because it’s my job, but it’s also my favorite site. The homepage used to be a crucial part of that experience. I still love watching videos, and I keep up with my subscriptions, but the once-fun act of browsing isn’t true anymore. If you don’t want to listen to me, YouTube, hear out creators.



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