Creators’ Guide To The New YouTube – Channel Design & Layout

At the beginning of the month, YouTube launched a new homepage and upgraded their site design, revamping their analytics, channel design, video manager and more.  To help you get acquainted with the new YouTube we’ve decided to launch a new series of posts—the Creators’ Guide To The New YouTube.  We’ll cover the ins and outs of the new site design, starting with the new YouTube channel design and layout.

If you haven’t visited your YouTube channel since the redesign then you’re in for a surprise.  Not only can you now post links in the sidebar of your channel, but YouTube is also now offering a series of layout templates, a new Feed and more.  Not sure where to get started?  Not to worry.  We’ll take you through all the steps of getting your new YouTube channel set up.

Featured Video

One of the first things you may notice when you visit your channel is that the featured video has been removed.  A little annoying, maybe, but it’s no biggie.  To add a featured video to your channel, just click on ‘Add a featured video.’  This will open up a widget that allows you to select the video that you’d like to feature.

Using the dropdown menu you can click to choose a specific video, or choose a playlist and check the ‘Most Recent Video in Featured Set’ box to feature the most recent video uploaded to a specific set.  Selecting ‘Uploaded Videos’ from the dropdown menu and then checking the ‘Most Recent Video in Featured Set’ box will ensure that the most recently uploaded video will always be featured on your channel.

You can check on the box to ‘Automatically start playing the video once the channel loads’ if you’d like that, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  Though it may increase the number of views you get on your video, I find that a good portion of viewers find auto-play annoying on a channel.  But again, that’s really your decision.

If your channel is enabled for advertising, you can also check the box to ‘Prevent ads from showing in my videos on this page.’  Also your decision, keeping in mind that having ads on your main channel page could take away from the way you showcase your own brand.

Links & Info

Once you’ve set the featured video on your channel (if this is something that you’ve decided to do) it’s time to input all of your links and general information–the ‘About’ sections, your hometown, age, interests, and any other information you’d like to include, along with links to your social media profiles, websites or blogs.

To start editing this info, click the ‘Edit’ button next to the ‘About [your] channel’ heading on the top right of your channel (note: this is different from the ‘Edit Channel’ button on the very top right corner).  Fill in a short description of your channel in the ‘About [your] channel’ field and then scroll down and fill our any of the other fields with information that you want to share.  You can fill in more in the ‘About this user’ section (which has a new character limit of 200 characters, so you may have to shorten it if you previously had a longer chunk of text there), Hometown, Country, Occupation, Companies, Schools and Interests.  You can click ‘Hide/Show’ to hide these fields or show them on your channel.

When you are writing the ‘About’ sections, keep in mind the various search terms that viewers that would be interested in your channel may be searching for.  Try to use these in your descriptions in order to increase the odds of your channel showing up in search results.  For more on this, check out our post on How To Skyrocket Your Video Views With YouTube Metadata.

Now you’re ready to add links.  You can connect your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts to create large clickable buttons, or you can simply add a new link by entering a Title and Custom URL into the field.  Favicons will be displayed next to links to sites that have them, including Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.   You can see the difference between these two options in the image below.

The ability to put a list of links on your channel is one of my favorite new YouTube channel features.  Take advantage of it by putting links to any of the social networks, blogs or websites that you’d like to promote.  You never know who will stop by your channel and decide to follow you on Twitter, read your blog, or head to your website for more information.

Layouts & Appearance

One of the biggest changes to YouTube channels is that they now offer a choice of layouts for their ‘Featured Tab,’ the tab that new visitors that have not already subscribed to your channel will see when they visit.  Although the Featured Tab is optional, it is definitely advisable as it’s a great way to show off your videos, playlists, and featured channels in one spot.  They’ve got four layouts, each designed with a specific type of user in mind:

You may want to play around with the layout a bit to see which works best for you.  However, the ‘Blogger’ layout seems to be the most popular at this point in time because it lets you feature your uploaded videos, in addition to playlists and other channels.  That being said, the other layouts have their benefits as well.  For instance, the Network layout is great for someone who has a lot of channels that they want to feature and Creator is great if you’ve already got a ton of videos divided into playlists as it gives viewers an easy menu to access the largest number of your videos.

Below is an example of the Blogger layout, complete with a featured video, the latest uploaded videos, featured playlists and featured channels.  Note that you can add or remove playlists or featured channels by clicking the ‘Edit’ button at the top of each module, or display the videos from a specific playlist, rather than your uploaded videos, by clicking the ‘Edit’ button as well.

Once you’ve decided on a layout, you’re not done yet!  You can still edit the appearance of your channel, including your avatar and a background image or color.  You can do all this by clicking on ‘Edit Channel’ in the top right corner of your channel page.  Note that from the Appearance tab that opens up you can also click to ‘Switch back to the old channels design.’  However, YouTube is ultimately going to make everybody switch over to the new design at some point, as Facebook is doing with the Timeline, so I say just go with it.

OK!  So now that you’re on the Appearance tab you can easily click to upload a new avatar (if you’re sick of your old one), choose a background color or click to choose a file and upload your own background image.  If you are uploading your own image it’s important to keep in mind that because different people have different screen sizes, your image may not look the same on all computers.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose a background color that matches or fades into the background image you upload, so that if your image doesn’t fill the entire screen it will still look good.

Now we’re almost done setting up your channel’s layout and appearance.  For the last step, just switch over to the Info and Settings tab to take care of a few loose ends.  Here you can check out and edit the description that you wrote in the ‘Links & Info’ step, change your channel title and add tags, and make sure ‘Make my channel visible on youTube’ is checked on, which will help with your discoverability (unless, of course, you don’t want anybody to find your channel, which makes me wonder why you’re spending all this time getting it set up!).

The most important thing that you’ll do on this tab is decide what you want the ‘Default Tab’ of your channel will be – aka which page viewers will see first when they visit your channel.  Odds are you’ll want to choose the ‘Featured Tab,’ but you can also choose the Videos tab or the Feed tab (more on the Feed tab in a minute).  Then, decide if you want your subscribers to default to this tab as well, or fi you want to check the box to ‘Always take subsribed users to the feed tab.’

Feed

In an attempt to focus more on social action taken on the site, YouTube has added a Feed tab to every channel.  Your Feed is basically a news feed of all of your actions on the site, like when you upload new videos, create playlists and add videos to playlists, like other people’s videos, make comments, subscribe to other people’s channels and more.

To determine which information will be shared in your public feed on your Channel, you’ll have to go into the settings.  Click on your user name at the top right corner of the page and then click ‘Settings.’  Choose ‘Sharing’ from the list on the left.  From here you can check or uncheck different items to decide what you’d like to share and what you wouldn’t like to share in your public feed.  Note that uploads are always shared publicly on YouTube.  From here you can also connect your other social network accounts and enable automatic sharing to those as well.

Now that you’ve decided what you’ll be sharing, go back to the Feed on your channel and click on ‘Settings.’  From here you can decide whether you want to enable commenting on your channel or not.  You can choose to ‘Allow channel comments’ without approval, ‘Allow channel comments but don’t display until approved,’ or ‘Disable channel comments.’  If you are nervous about people posting inappropriate comments on your channel then your safest bet is probably to allow comments after approval.

Now, congratulations!  Your new YouTube channel is all set up!  If you’ve got any suggestions or advice of your own (or if you’d just like to show off your new channel design) feel free to leave a comments below.  Happy YouTubing!

Image Credit: pressureUA / Shutterstock.com

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.

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