Oh God I can’t believe I’m making another one of these posts. Once again, #firstworldproblems warning.
Right, so you probably recognise the above. It’s the banner art on my YouTube Channel. Or, if you’re a relative newcomer, I assume you’ve not seen the whole thing. Somewhat recently, and I don’t know exactly how recently, YouTube swapped something around in how it renders this banner, something fundamental. If you’ve looked at my channel recently, you may have noticed it looking like this:
Gee, thanks. “Listen to 100+ O”. Yeah, that tells people what I’m all about.
Something was evidently changed, semi-recently at any rate, so that the banner had to be resized and repositioned. Automatically. Well slap my cock and call me Richard, thanks a whole heapin’ bunch for the advance notice, YouTube. And what a resizing/repositioning job it is. Look at it! The sheer scale of the resizing, the jpeg artifacts in full view – and the new position that means probably 90% of the original graphic is now invisible.
Looking into it, the new “recommended” dimensions for the banner (what they’re insisting on now calling “Channel Art”) are 2048×1152. The original dimensions were somewhere in the region of 894×175 – bit of a difference there, you might notice, in more ways than one which we’ll get onto in just a bit. I just have one question: why??
I should stress: this is something I just happened to check on and see, I wasn’t notified of this change before I simply glanced YouTube-wards and had to stop and stare for a moment at the calamity that had befallen my banner. This was not my doing – this was the result of some ill-programmed algorithm that has no doubt gone and affected many other channels in the same annoying way. I haven’t seen any uproar arise around this particular problem yet but hopefully that’ll come soon. YouTube’s userbase is keen to react hysterically.
Anyway… when I uploaded this banner originally, I can assure you it was positioned and sized accordingly with the bounding box’s dimensions before they were arbitrarily changed. And I should probably mention: 2048×1152 is not only a TOTALLY different set of dimensions, but a totally different aspect ratio to what the banner’s requirements were originally. And I’m not talking like a negligible difference in aspect ratio either. My banner’s dimensions before this change happened, I’ll say again, were 894×175. And for the uninitiated, 2048×1152 is basically a landscape photograph – an aspect ratio of 16:9. It’s not a nice compact horizontal strip anymore, that’s for sure!
So, YouTube… now that you’ve got the capacity to hold entire photographs inside of a thin strip at the top of your users’ YouTube channels, how do you go about displaying them exactly? I’m genuinely curious.
ARE YOU BEING SERIOUS RIGHT NOW.
Okay so for those for whom the penny hasn’t dropped just yet, here’s what’s going on in this screencap: I resized my banner image to the exact dimensions they specified – 2048×1152. It obviously looked silly, unfeasibly stretched in a vertical direction far more than it should ever be. But my reasoning for doing it this way was that I had to decipher what on Earth YouTube were now actually doing with images of this size, since I was still only seeing a banner-like strip at the top of my channel – I figured, “well, it’s still gotta function like a banner, surely?”. So on uploading this (deliberately) hideously malformed banner image, YouTube then presented me with the above dialog, which explained to me that the image “is going to look different across devices”. You can see desktop computer on the left, TV in the middle, and mobile on the right.
Why does it look so different across all these different devices? What’s wrong with showing a simple banner in the same way across devices, and doing some simple resizing where necessary? Why this repositioning garbage as well? Are you deliberately trying to make it impossible for users to make banners that look good regardless of the medium? And why the hell is an image that was supposed to be a banner for the top of a channel page now taking up an entire television screen?? Who is sitting at home wanting to see that much of a banner graphic? Who wants their entire screen taken up by the introductory graphic of a user’s channel? It’s not that that the users are there for! It’s the actual content, like, you know, the videos!
I mean, look at that nonsense in the middle up there. Who wants that. And “Channel Art” is entirely static and non-interactive anyway, unless you’re a YouTube Partner I think, but in my case, all I want is a static graphic to display properly regardless of the medium that’s used to display it. You’d think that would be hard to screw up, but hey, the geniuses at YouTube, ever-vigilant in their quest to continue to “fix” problems that aren’t actually problems while continuing to ignore the legitimate issues going on with their increasingly problematic website, found a way.
Anyway, I did set about trying to correct the problem on my end. Here’s what I did:
- Found the original banner.
- Resized it to 2560px wide, while keeping the vertical size proportional.
- Resized the canvas to 1152px tall. This resulted in two gigantic white strips vertically bookending my banner graphic. It looks completely ridiculous but I’m afraid those three people on Earth who want the whole thing displayed on their television sets are going to have to live with a bit of white space.
- Reuploaded the graphic to YouTube.
- Noticed some text was cut off at the top and bottom. My banner was too tall by a fraction. Oh, joy.
- Didn’t want to squash the graphic vertically, so just repositioned the text elements closer together.
- Noticed it was still cut off.
- Repeat ad nauseum…
Below are how many times it took me to reupload the banner graphic without the text getting cut off in any way just on my desktop. Five. Five times. All these photos are using the 16:9 dimensions per YouTube’s stringent new rules regarding Channel Art dimensions, but it took me that many attempts just to get the banner at the top of my channel looking like an actual banner.
Obviously YouTube is making changes to its systems at an annoyingly constant rate, and I might be a bit behind the curve on this particular issue, but even so, what a bloody unnecessary bunch of steps to go through.
It would seem the whole “banner” aspect of the thin horizontal strip colorfully highlighting the purpose of the channel it’s adorning is getting phased out, in favor of calling it “Channel Art” and giving users more options as to how to decorate their channel. But for 66% of the devices listed here, by their own admission, these graphics will only be displayed partially – a thin horizontal strip directly in the middle of the graphic. There is no way (that I can see) to reposition or resize the graphic, or configure it visually in any way once you’ve uploaded it. You have to edit the graphic yourself in an editor program. The only other choice YouTube actually gives you is to upload a different graphic or pick one from your Google+ photos.
Why force end users into making these manual changes when you could so easily give them the option to have either a photo or a banner, instead of your system forcing them to try and generate a compromise between the two? Let us pick the dimensions/aspect ratio for our graphics, thank you very much. If we want to show a landscape photo in full at the top of our page, let us. If we want to display a simple, informative banner shown, with no added oddities or malformations in the text, like I did, let us. Hell, if we want to do something crazy like have a vertical strip that goes down one side of the channel page, with a crazy dimension set like 32×10000, let us. Don’t make us adjust and adjust and adjust until the graphics we spend time and energy on conform to your unworkably arbitrary and inconsistent standards.
…We’re not even done yet. This is what it looks like on my iPad – after I made the adjustments.
Oh, just piss off.
You total bloody numbskulls. You’ve cut the text off at the left and right. People are going to be looking for “JamesPaddo” on Twitter now, or will be scratching their heads when they enter “otik.nl” into their search bars and come up with nothing pertaining to graphic design, when they should be directed to my good friend Thomas van der Velden’s website.
How is this allowed? How is making a simple banner graphic look good across a variety of platforms made so goddamn difficult? I don’t know how they managed such a feat, honestly. It takes a lot of talent to screw up something as simple as this on this big of a scale.
So yeah, in summary, YouTube shat the bed again. Something tells me this will all be broken again given a bit of time, and I’ll have to make myriad adjustments in order for a simple static graphic to display properly for everyone who might come and visit my channel.
Again, thank you so much for the incredible service you provide, YouTube.