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YouTube One


Hello everyone! Frequent YouTube users among you may have already noticed the new channel format that was introduced in March (currently in beta). Called YouTube One, it’s billed as a way to better personalize and brand your page, which it does pretty well. I experimented with LSNTAP’s YouTube channel to see what YouTube One has to offer. Let’s take a look at the changes.

Channel Art

The first and most visible change is the addition of “channel art,” displayed in a banner format much like your Facebook page. This is a great way to make your organization’s colors and branding more prevalent, to include a nice photo of your staff or office, or to just make your page more visual overall.

The big however for me, though, was that it was a bit difficult to find an image that looked good for LSNTAP’s page. First of all, you need a fairly large image – larger than most of us are used to using for profile images or social media. At a minimum, it should be 2120 by 1192 pixels; YouTube recommends 2560 by 1440 pixels. In contrast, a Facebook banner image is 851 by 314 pixels.

Secondly, the mechanism for adjusting the way the channel art looks is not terribly flexible. YouTube One is designed to be viewed on all sizes of screens – which is great, and we’ll get to that below – but adjusting the channel art so that it looks good in all formats is no easy task. After you upload an image and click “Adjust the crop,” you’re presented with a screen like this:


The large box and the smaller one inside it represent different screen sizes. From what I can tell, the large one is for viewing on a TV and the smaller one for viewing on a desktop (mobile viewing is also considered but I’m assuming that it’s just a smaller version of the desktop size). That’s great, but after a certain point you cannot make the boxes any smaller – in the example above, they only get a few pixels smaller than what’s shown. In addition, you can’t move that smaller center box around independent of the big one to get a better picture.

The result is rather frustrating.


In the end, I went with a simpler, more repetitive image that didn’t rely so much on vertical objects (like Seattle’s Space Needle):


Maybe if I had read YouTube’s Channel Art Guidelines from the beginning some of this could have been avoided. (On a related note, the typewriter was supposed to be ironic since we’re a tech organization and did that come across?)

Ready for multiple devices

As I mentioned above, YouTube One is designed to look good whether it’s seen on a smart phone, a tablet, a desktop computer, or a TV. That’s partly why the channel art is so tricky – but it does pay off. With all the recent hullabaloo about mobile-friendly sites, YouTube has done all the thinking for you; you just have to follow the rules.


Web links

You may have also noticed a group of icons in the bottom right-hand corner of the channel art images above. Whether you did or didn’t, here they are again:


In addition to describing your organization in the “About” section of your channel, you can add links to your website, other social media sites, or whatever you want. These links will be inserted as an overlay on your channel art. You can also choose to feature other channels to promote their content as well.


Encourage subscriptions with a “trailer”

One of the more interesting features of YouTube One is that it encourages you to create a “trailer” for your channel, encouraging people to subscribe. It only appears for those who have not already subscribed, so that it doesn’t get in the way of subscribers. You can use an already existing video, or create a totally new one; either way, it should be quick and light and contain only the essential information about your organization (plus maybe an epic battle or dance number? Just a thought).


YouTube One gives you a checklist of things you should ostensibly do to maximize the potential of your fancy new channel. Most of these I’ve already gone through above, but when I reached the suggestion to “add a section” I was stumped. What is a section? How is it different from a playlist?

It turns out that sections are pretty much what they sound like and that I may have overreacted a little. Sections basically offer alternative ways to organize your content in the different ways in which visitors to your channel might search for specific videos.

For example on the LSTNAP channel, a visitor might be interested in just looking at the most updated information in the webinars we’ve done so far this year: in that case, they can visit our “Webinars 2013” playlist. But what if they had heard about our insanely popular viral video and weren’t sure what it was called? Well, then they could check under the “Popular uploads” section. Or if they were interested in a particular webinar that was split into pieces (as we’ve done with our most recent two webinars, “35 Free and Low-Cost Tools” and “50 Tech Tips”), they could find all the pieces of those videos in their own sections.


Sections can be created based on a number of criteria: recent or popular uploads, playlists as a whole or individual playlists, or a certain tag. For instance, I tagged the “35 Free and Low-Cost Tools” webinar videos with a descriptive tag, made that the section criteria, and presto! A specialized section for those videos. You can create sections with any combination of videos based on a specific tag; new videos with that tag will be added as they’re uploaded.

Sections can be displayed as horizontal rows or vertical lists, and it’s easy to re-order them – just hover over one and this set of icons will appear in the top right-hand corner:

sections edit

From here, you can shuffle sections up or down, or (with the pencil icon) edit their criteria and appearance or delete them. Turns out sections are pretty useful!

(Random fact: saying a word so often that it begins to lose its meaning is called semantic satiation and I think that’s what happened with this section on sections. Sorry about that. Section section section section section.)


What do you think of YouTube One? Will you switch over, or will you revert to the old format (for as long as you still can, anyway)? Why? Tell us in the comments!

Happy Friday, everyone!