YouTube Stamper is a proposed feature addition to YouTube that would allow users to create and save custom lists of timestamps.
For this project, completed as part of DesignLab's UX Academy capstone projects, over the course of three weeks I created a working demo prototype of the functionality and its design.
The prototype is a design mockup created in Webflow, adding the proposed feature to a representation of YouTube's existing interface.
The prototype interface has functioning timestamping and timestamp editing features.
Research, design and usability testing work was performed solely by myself.
YouTube has implemented tools for navigating inside videos, such as timestamping and visible sectioning (YouTube Chapters) and “most-replayed” highlights in video scrub bars.
However, the only way for average users to create their own custom lists of timestamps (without having to rely on the video creator) is to add a comment with a manually typed-out list of times.
This is potentially inefficient and also means that users have to keep scrolling down to find their comment to view their timestamps.
In addition, YouTube comments are all publicly viewable, which might be undesirable if a user just wants to have a list of timestamps for their personal use.
For these reasons, I wanted to explore an expansion of YouTube’s timestamping functionality.
Originally, I wanted to focus specifically on extending YouTube’s Embed Video feature, and creating a way for people to add custom lists of timestamps to videos when they went to embed them on third-party websites.
Thus, my original research question was the following:
How useful would a timestamp list on embedded videos be, and how many people would use it?
A random survey was conducted to get first-hand data regarding YouTube usage.
Survey questions were based around how people used YouTube, what videos they tended to watch, how often people used YouTube Video Chapters and YouTube’s built-in timestamping functionality, and how often people used YouTube’s embed video functionality.
If it could be shown that both chapters/timestamping and embed videos were reasonably popular, there would be a case that adding timestamping to embedded videos would be a useful feature for a significant number of users.
Though I ended up receiving rather fewer participants than I was hoping for in the time I had for the survey, I did gain some interesting insights.
The results of the survey were somewhat middling in regards to my original idea - though it showed that Video Chapters and timestamping were reasonably popular with general users, it also showed that hardly anybody used the embed video functionality.
The survey did, however, show that videos for which timestamping could be useful - how-to’s, educational, cooking, and music, etc. - were reasonably popular.
Average video lengths also skewed longer, suggesting that most people watch videos with lengths that could make timestamps useful.
The survey results showed, in short, that while timestamping is reasonably popular and desirable, the general user base does not often interact with the embed video menu.
As a result, I decided to pivot my focus from expanding the embed video functionality to designing a new timestamping feature for the general YouTube interface itself.
In this new formulation, YouTube Stamper would be a feature that would allow users to create custom lists of timestamps to be saved to videos.
I created the below user flow map to define how a user might use the feature. Click for a larger image:
I built my first designs around testing the basic functionality of creating and updating custom timestamp lists, and how the feature can be integrated into the YouTube interface.
To improve on the initial designs, usability testing was conducted with a group of random participants with the objective of answering the following questions:
The methodology for each test was as follows:
A number of areas of improvement were identified as a result of the tests:
Back to Demo Video, showing iterated designs.
Given more time, the next step for this project would have been designing out timestamp list sharing/exporting.
The feature as designed is envisioned to automatically save timestamp lists and edits to local data or the user profile, but it may also be useful and desirable to have a way to share the saved timestamp lists with others.
With more time, I would wish to explore the best ways to add this feature to the interface.
This was a highly interesting project for me in terms of research and usability testing, mainly because the results on both steps caused me to significantly challenge and re-evaluate my previously held assumptions.
For the preliminary research, seeing how few people actually engaged with the embed video menu caused me to pivot my original design intentions to ones that would be useful to a wider audience of users.
For usability testing, seeing how people actually interacted with my interface caused me to re-evaluate what I thought was the most intuitive method of editing timestamps.
I think this was an excellent experience for me to work through, and an example of the power of user-focused design thinking to provide new and useful perspectives.