Usability, Accessibility and Ethics of YouTube.

There are several sites and apps that I use on a daily basis. However, I would have to say that my go-to for leisure and entertainment is YouTube at the moment.

YouTube logo

The amount of content and users that are active on YouTube makes it an extremely effective source of entertainment and learning. It has basically replaced the TV as my number one source for video content.

I think there are a lot of reasons why it does so well but the fact that it is a platform that is driven and created for the user, by the user, is what makes it so brilliant. Lets dive in a little deeper into YouTube’s usability, accessibility and ethics:

Learnability- The Overall feel and design of the site makes it fairly easy to learn as buttons and a search box are laid out nicely on the navigation bar. The button symbols to the right of the screenshot below are somewhat unique to video uploading platforms, so there may be a slight learning curve for a beginner user on the site. However, the purpose of each button becomes displayed once the mouse hovers over each button which makes this easy to pick up fast. The rest of the site is really set up as an easy search, click and watch interface for the videos.

Memorability- YouTube does this tremendously well, almost too well in-fact due to curated content for each profile and suggested videos. It is very easy to go back and watch videos again, or see what’s coming up next. Videos can be saved, added to watch lists and much more to allow the user the freedom to become engrossed in the content, and eases the burden on the user.

Satisfaction- As an avid user of YouTube I can’t see there are too many issues I have with the platform. From a usability perspective I very rarely encounter any errors or issues with watching or navigating through the content, as I can easily find what I am looking for. The interface is simple and clear which allows for a pleasurable experience while on the site. The advertisements have become a little frustrating but that is to be expected with phenomenal growth.

Accessibility- Overall, the accessibility is well done and there are buttons for Help and Feedback. However, as explained earlier some of the button images may not be clear and to actually upload videos and create a channel, quite a bit of reading and work is involved. I read on the Help page that a few users praised the sites copy/paste features and effectiveness in limiting typing for people that struggle with this. Due to the site being primarily comprised of video, everything can be navigated simply by point and click, which I think greatly increases its accessibility.

Ethics- I have a general feeling of trust in regards to YouTube for the most part. This is only due to the fact that it is a user driven platform. Google itself has me suspicious on their end game strategy and the amount of user data they compile. Being that YouTube is a sharing service by nature, I feel ethically it does well in limiting the amount of dark patterns because the users are literally creating the patterns themselves. The only red flags I see are the ads that constantly run before videos, but many of these are actually advertisements by users creating their own patterns for people to fall into. The site as a whole I think is fair and doesn’t try to take advantage of the user’s experience with the product.

YouTube has almost 5 billion videos watched everyday. Clearly, the usability and accessibility of the site have been a success, which then puts even more focus and attention on the ethics of the product. When you become that immensely popular, the ability to take advantage of the user is much easier and readily available. I enjoy YouTube and support it because for the most part I don’t see that happening and it gives the user a platform to show themselves in this world. That is a principle I can abide by.