I use YouTube a lot, and feel like the interface changes every time I visit the site on a desktop PC.

Most annoying is the way it deals with playlists: for a start, at the time of writing, there’s no obvious way to get to your playlists.

But I am referring more to the data that’s available on any part of the site. For example, the right-hand list of related videos. It currently shows a still preview, a title, the owner and the number of views. The video duration is overlaid on a corner of the still.

I gauge how worth a link is clicking by how many people have viewed it and how many have liked it (or, in the past, it’s rating out of 5 stars). Depending what I want to watch, the owner of the video is also pertinent, i.e. the difference between XFactorUK and xxx-jenny-muffinface-xxx means a lot when I want to see Misha B’s performance of Purple Rain and not how to copy Misha B’s hairstyle from the performance.

TO that end, could big sites like YouTUbe offer users the ability to customise such elements throughout the site?

A design mode would allow the user to drag fields (elements of meta about a piece of content e.g. the %age of people who gave the video a thumbs up) into the place they want to see it. Likewise I could format owner’s name to bold and make it a bit bigger. Perhaps even I could apply conditional formatting to the owner name, to make it bold and a bright colour if it is a user I subscribe to, or apply a different sort order to the list e.g. put videos by users I subscribe to before others, or simply list by date published.

I think Facebook would benefit from this as well – their not-so-computer-literate users are pretty vocal about lamenting any change to the overall experience, particularly given they are usually radical.

If you’ve ever designed a report in MS Access or another IT-related task that uses databases and repeating regions, hopefully you will understand what I’m getting at here.

Comments and further ideas are welcome from those so inclined. Have you ever used such a thing before?

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