YouTube would probably be a popular Internet destination even if it were only a video database, but the site is much more than that. YouTube constantly develops and shares new features and applications that make the user experience more enjoyable. YouTube strives to make every task user-friendly, from viewing a video to creating one of your own.
One of the great things about YouTube is that you don't have to be a member to take advantage of one of its best features: embedding videos. Every video page on YouTube has a field containing the code you need to embed the video on another Web page. Anyone browsing YouTube can copy the code, go to another site and paste it into the site's HTML code. So, if you write a blog about car maintenance and you find a great video on YouTube about engine repair, you can embed a YouTube player in your blog and your viewers will be able to watch it from your Web site.
Non-members can also share videos by clicking on the share link. After a user clicks on the link, a share video box appears under the video where the user can type in e-mail addresses and a short message. Then, the user clicks on send message and sends an e-mail to the list of contacts with a link to the video.
YouTube also has a section called the video toolbox, which features videos that teach you tips and tricks of video production. There are videos about lighting, video editing, camera angles, sound production and special effects. You don't have to be a YouTube member to watch these videos.
Another YouTube section is the TestTube, where YouTube offers new applications for beta testing before rolling them out to the entire site. Some of TestTube's applications include:
- Active sharing, which shows other YouTubers what you're watching.
- AudioSwap, an application that lets you change the audio on your video. YouTube created this application so that members could remove audio that was under copyright and replace it with officially licensed music.
- Remixer, a program designed by Adobe Premiere Express that lets you make edits to videos already loaded into YouTube, including transitions and effects.
- Streams, which are chat rooms where multiple people can watch and comment on the same videos simultaneously. It's like being in a movie theater and chatting about the film with your friends, but without the risk of being kicked out by an usher.
Perhaps the most useful feature on YouTube is the search function. When a YouTuber uploads a video, he or she can fill out fields for the title, description and tags to include key search terms. It's up to the YouTuber to make sure all appropriate search terms are included. Smart YouTubers know that it pays to throw in a couple of common misspellings of search terms as tags. Unscrupulous members will throw in popular terms that have nothing to do with the actual videos. This artificially boosts the videos' visibility, though it probably doesn't help the video get good ratings.
Just who are the masterminds behind this site? We'll take a look at YouTube the company in the last section.