With Facebook branded, the next step was to brand our channel on YouTube. I’ve blogged in the past about setting up a channel on YouTube that gives you the degree of design control I will focus on now, so I won’t reiterate that part. But basically, YouTube provides much more control over the look and feel of your “page” than Facebook does. You can alter the background color, the background graphic, and even the transparency of the “borders” of your channel lay-out.
For Outskirts Press, our focus was the “write.publish.market” graphic and tagline I mentioned last time in relation to branding Facebook. Now, rather than being limited to the small, 180 pixel-wide graphic imposed by Facebook, we had the freedom to upload a graphic as wide as a computer monitor. There are two tricks to doing this correctly:
1) You have to account for different monitor resolutions. Wikipedia suggests that 76% of Internet users view at a resolution higher than 1024 x 768 and 20% see at a resolution of 1024 x 768. So by designing your YouTube background graphic (or your website, for that matter) at a resolution optimal for 1024 x 768 you are optimizing the experience for 96% of Internet users. Granted, this statistic probably doesn’t involve the growing trend of viewing websites like YouTube on mobile devices, which shoot the computer monitor trends out the window, but that’s a topic for a different day.
In our case, we created a graphic that looked good at 1024 x 768 as well as higher resolutions and then used a “gradient” to bleed out to a solid background color at the sides and bottom. That way, even if someone was looking at the background at a very, very high resolution, the graphic wouldn’t just end abruptly or, (even worse) repeat in an unaesthetic way.
2) The second concern is coping with the content. Since the background is fixed-center (unlike Twitter, which is fixed-left, and we’ll talk about that next), the YouTube background needs to be designed in three parts — the left, the right, and the top — and then “combined” together around the content table. This is because the background or “banner” portion of the background is visible above the YouTube channel content. This banner needs to be 960 pixels wide and designed to exactly match the edges of the left and right portions where it they all touch each other.
Our first design of the banner involved an animating .gif that alternated between “write anything,” “publish everything,” and “market everywhere.” Unfortunately, the banner cannot be an animating .gif image (come on, YouTube, why not?). Therefore, only the first frame of the animating graphic displayed. I briefly toyed with the idea of alternating the three “key frames” of the animating graphic every week or so, but instead opted for the shorter version of our tagline: “write.publish.market” and that’s the banner you see below, on our new YouTube channel, revealed here for the first time:
It carries over the branding message and repeats the characters of the Facebook graphic, and those from our website index page, while also taking advantage of the greater design controls afforded by YouTube.
Maybe in time Facebook will offer this degree of freedom, although perhaps not; one reason MySpace is so terrifying to visit is due to the design freedom is affords. Many MySpace pages are just plain fugly, which reminds us all that just because someone “can” do something themselves, doesn’t mean it is being done correctly, professionally, or aesthetically.
Hey, what do you know– that’s what we often say about self-publishing. Sometimes, it’s better to let the experts handle it.