YouTube: Design Patterns & Task Flows

A Reflection Point

When it comes to video-sharing, YouTube is the community to join. Users can upload and view videos, but they can also rate, share, report, comment, and subscribe to other users. Over 400 hours of content are uploaded onto the site each minute, and one billion hours are watched on YouTube every day.

That’s a lot of videos and eyeballs.

Design Patterns

While YouTube is built upon its video technology (e.g. video quality and formats, playback, live streaming), it thrives from its social features and the community it has built. It also utilizes a variety of common design patterns to propel its content and help improve the experiences for both the content contributor and the viewer.

Navigation

YouTube’s global navigation design is clear and an effective use of space for smaller screens. The navigation appears from the left when a user clicks on the hamburger menu located at the top left corner. Once open, the rest of the screen is darkened by a black overlay. The navigation menu utilizes both text and iconography to help clarify the labels and make it easy for users to understand each.

Search

I’ve always appreciated how easy YouTube makes it to find interesting content. The search bar, located on top of the page, is convenient placed and easily accessible. In addition, its autocomplete feature helps users see what kind of content exists and speeds up their search process.

Let’s say a user has nothing specific to search for and wants to browse through content. YouTube makes this exploration process fluid and effortless. On the home page, users are given endless rows of suggested content, personalized based on viewing and search histories. The infinite scrolling makes it easy to users to explore content based on categories. Personally, I’ve never gone on YouTube and thought, “There’s nothing to watch.”

Search Results: Music Artist

If a user searches up an artist, the results page will feature the artist’s channel at the top of the screen as well as a playlist of their top tracks and albums on the right. This layout gives users a lot of important content at the get-go, making it easy for them to learn more about the artist, explore the music, and subscribe.

Task Flows

While users can execute a number of tasks on YouTube, I’ve sketched out three of the primary tasks users engage in.

Task 1: Catching up on subscriptions

Task 2: Searching for interesting content

Task 3: Uploading video

“It’s probably on YouTube.”

YouTube is a sea of content. Through YouTube videos, I’ve learned how to tie my boyfriend’s tie, create a new hairstyle, and cook a steak. I’ve watched my favorite celebrities sing on Carpool Karaoke and caught up on news updates for the iPhone X. I’m not much of a YouTube contributor, but as a YouTube viewer, I find the site content educational, informative, and unfailingly entertaining.