Go with the Show: Dive into your favorite programs with YouTube TV’s redesigned Live Guide and Library
Welcome to the latest installment of our Innovation Series, a behind-the-scenes look at how the YouTube features find their way to your screen, as told by the people who create them.
Every TV fan knows there’s so much great content to watch right now. Sometimes you want to watch highlights from the Golden Globes, or marathon Yellowstone episodes when it’s cold out.
But somehow we still spend too much time scrolling through channels just to find something to watch. When we were building YouTube TV, our team spent a lot of time thinking about how we could make that experience better — we even considered not having a live guide whatsoever! But we decided we needed to meet our viewers where they are.
Today, we are walking you through the latest redesigns of YouTube TV’s Live and Library.
Our team’s philosophy is that YouTube TV is ‘TV Made For You’
You may have already noticed the updated live guide in your app, with new curated recommendations at the top, a simplified design and more key information for each live show or movie.
We’re now starting to roll out updates to the library, which will help you manage your content with improved content filtering and better organizational tools to make your library feel less cluttered. Users should begin seeing this redesign over the next few months.
We wanted to share our UX thinking behind these changes and how we kept our members and their viewing experience top of mind during the research and design process.
TV made for you
Our team’s philosophy is that YouTube TV is ‘TV Made For You’, and this is threaded throughout the entire product experience across your Live, Library and Home. These surfaces enable viewers to find what’s on now, browse what to watch, and go back into content they may have missed.
Before even sketching out designs, the team took a step back to develop user-focused key principles that would drive the redesign of these surfaces on YouTube TV:
- Empower viewers with more control and choice so they can watch TV their way
- Anticipate TV watching needs by getting viewers the content they want with less effort
- Recognize different interests and viewing behaviors
We relied on user research from in-home interviews, app feedback, surveys and concept testing to identify and prioritize design decisions. Some insights that influenced our approach:
- Decision fatigue is real when you turn on your TV with even more apps and channels than ever before. Viewers are looking for easier ways to find the content most relevant to them, whether it’s jumping into a live game or seeing what’s trending right now. They also seek contextual information like show’s description, air date, episode and key characters (e.g. cast, crew, or athletes) to not only decide what to watch but also check if something is worth their time.
- Viewers want more control. Our members enjoy YouTube TV’s unlimited DVR, but those with larger libraries have a harder time finding exactly what to watch. Members have built up their libraries over time but programs they were interested in several years ago might no longer be relevant to them. Parents in particular offered us a key insight: they often felt like their libraries were cluttered with kids' content and they wanted a way to better see their own recordings. The more their libraries grew, the less usable they became due to the lack of tools to organize their shows, movies and sports.
- Every second is valuable. Viewers want to jump back into ‘most watched’ and find relevant programming airing right now without hunting for it. Everything we need to convey to them around watch progress, freshness and relevance needs to be understood at a glance. We have also learned that viewers want to easily record shows without going through multiple steps.
The hypotheses and results
Live and Library are the most used pages by YouTube TV watchers, so we decided to focus on improving those areas through hypotheses that went through rounds of iteration:
Hypothesis 1: By assisting viewers through better page organization, we can help them get into a great watch experience intuitively.
To test this, we designed a new, highlighted state at the top of the live guide so users could confirm that they were watching the right program. We also made the live guide more compact, so folks could quickly take in more information at a glance, reducing the need to keep scrolling.
For Library, we introduced a visual hierarchy so viewers could easily parse through all the different content that had been added.
Hypothesis 2: By empowering viewers with clear actions and simple iconography, we help them make the most of their TV experience in a quick and efficient manner.
For both the live guide and library, we designed side panels that offered shortcuts (e.g. “Add to Library,” with a “Set Reminder” shortcut coming soon!) without taking the user away from what they were doing.
Based on user research, we also learned that the library wasn’t optimal to view at a glance. We decluttered the navigation by introducing filters and added a “Catch up on your favorites” shelf so users could easily pinpoint the newest and most relevant content for them.
These changes reflect our larger mission to deliver a delightful, easy to use, and modern TV experience. Rather than focusing on a single major launch, we are working towards integrating our principles across key surfaces (Live, Library) and honing in on our critical user journeys (Collecting, Browsing, Watching). YouTube TV aims to deliver intuitive and fresh updates to our overall experience with minimal disruption to our viewers.
We’ll be continuing to evolve our product via a holistic viewer-centric approach leveraging our core principles. We’re just getting started with Live and Library — we will continue to thread ways to empower users on Home, improving the discovery and browse experiences. We'll also bring more flexibility and interactivity during live playback and add the ability to easily switch between user profiles — all while ensuring TV is made for you... stay tuned!