YouTube's First Visual Refresh
I was honored to be part of YouTube's first redesign in its then seven-year history. I was hired by Margaret Stewart in 2010 as YouTube's only visual designer at the time. I was tasked with the awe-inspiring project of revamping YouTube's overall visual language. The project took about a year and a half of concepting, campaigning, refining, and testing before the new visual language was seen by the millions of users of YouTube.com. Over the course of the UX-championed project, the team grew to five designers and received Google-wide support. I stayed with the project from my first day on the job until the last bug was fixed! Although the visual changes themselves were not drastic, the project was overall a great success and set the foundation for future visual improvements for YouTube:
As is often times the case when someone is hired to start a drastic project inside an existing structure, the first step in my process was to convince YouTube's executive stakeholders that this project was worth the time and effort. I continued throughout the project to be a spokesperson for the new visual language, a role I thoroughly enjoyed. (True nerd alert: I even got to send out the dogfood email to the whole company!) Here are some slides from my initial stakeholder presentation about the goals for the new visual language:
With buy in at the executive level, I set out to define the future language through a series of mood boards and visual concepts—some presented drastic graphic shifts and other stayed safely close to what already existed:
As the visual language took root, the project gained momentum and the team grew to five designers and three developers! The chosen style was not drastically different from the starting point, but it thoughtfully utilized structural elements of Google's latest visual language. Its main differentiator was how it showcased our content—dimming the background of the site to a light gray to allow for thumbnails and pure white highlights to pop. As the system solidified, my role focused in on the details of refining the search and explore pages and managing the work load for the overall team:
The final step in implementing YouTube's new visual language was to document all the decisions. I worked on implementation specs for development and a company-wide interactive style guide for future teams to build on our work:
I was a internal champion and resource on YouTube's visual language, style guide, and visual design until I left to join the start-up world in 2013. I also organized and presented a SxSW design talk on the project with the team!