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problem discovery & validation

Power users* are finding themselves stuck in the same bubble of content.

Through 8 generative interviews and 42 surveys with regular users, I observed similar behaviors among power users where majority of the content they consumed  were by creators they were already subscribed to, and found themselves rarely exploring videos by channels they weren’t familiar with.


At the same time, I found a pattern of frustration in not being able to find new content they enjoyed as much as the creators they already subscribed to.

key insights

Hesitancy with Unfamiliar Creators

When being recommended videos to watch by the algorithm, users were less receptive to creators they weren’t familiar with, and were more inclined to continue watching videos by creators whose content they already knew they enjoyed.

Trust, Credibility, and Social Proof

Users are primarily finding new content and creators through recommendations from sources they find credible and trustworthy in understanding their personal taste. This is mainly through suggestion from friends, videos with high view counts, and creators that collaborate with channels they enjoy.

the solution


Allowing users to recommend content publicly to their following, or privately to their friends, within the app.

After testing several divergent ideas, this idea received the most positive feedback from initial testing. This feature amplifies existing user behaviors of both creators who are already recommending other channels to their viewers, and users sharing videos with friends through third party apps.

the design challenge

How might we foster trust in channel and content recommendations presented to users?

Recommending a video

Publicly recommend videos on your channel

Under the video player, the new “Recommend Button” allows users to quickly share a video either publicly to their profile for their following, or privately to a friend by connecting their google contacts the first time.


Recommending a video

Privately recommend videos to friends

Manage Recommendations

'My Recommended' Section

All recommendations can be managed under its own page, accessible from the home screen.

Users can view when recommendations are opened, or new comments have been added to the thread. Video threads allow friends to discuss videos they share with each other.


Discovering Recommendations

'Recommended by' tags

Videos on feed that exist on a creator’s or friend’s public recommended list display a “Recommended By” tag.


Discovering Recommendations

Home feed integration

Horizontal scrolling lists feature top 5 videos on the recommended list of a creator or friend the user is subscribed to, with a shortcut to explore more on their profile page.

Feature Rollout

Onboarding Tooltips

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Lessons learned and next steps!

Looking back on this case study, I think there's still opportunity to explore how the peer-to-peer threads can better integrate into the current youtube ecosystem. 

I also can't ignore that the idea of creators recommending other creators is asking them to essentially promote their "competition." There may be room to think of how creators can be incentivised to recommend videos, but the challenge is how to do this while maintain the trust and credibility they have with their subscribers. 

During the discovery phase, I learned the importance of setting constraints and boundaries to the research stage to help narrow my focus and help me collect more meaningful insights. I also realised the value of taking time to explore and define my problem space in order to guide my design and ideation stages. This was especially helpful when later critiquing which ideas should be prioritized over others.

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