Video site Dailymotion plans homepage refresh to boost video views

Users of Windows 8 and of Facebook or Twitter will recognize the new homepage's visual styles when it goes live from Wednesday

Video site Dailymotion hopes to show its visitors more videos with a redesign of its homepage that appears to draw inspiration from the checkered interface of Windows 8 and Windows Phone and the bottomless lists of Twitter and Facebook's new timeline.

The company plans to show the new homepage to between 10 and 15 percent of visitors this week, starting Wednesday, completing its worldwide rollout by the end of September.

"We're trying to improve discoverability," said Dailymotion's U.S. Managing Director Roland Hamilton. "We have millions of videos, and we want our homepage to reflect the breadth and depth of content we have."

Dailymotion has carved a place for itself in its native France, in second place behind Google, according to figures from market researcher comScore -- and is also something of a hit in Turkey, according to Hamilton -- but it has some catching up to do in the U.S.

The company claims to show 1.8 billion videos to 110 million unique visitors worldwide each month -- but according to comScore, market leader Google (owner of YouTube) showed 10 times that many in the U.S. alone. Google showed 18.3 billion videos to 155 million unique U.S. visitors, followed by Yahoo with 51 million unique U.S. visitors watching 718 million videos, according to comScore. Next came Facebook, VEVO, Viacom Digital and Microsoft. Dailymotion didn't even make comScore's top 10 in the U.S.

Hamilton, though, is proud of the engagement shown by Dailymotion visitors. In France in January, they watched an average of 7.4 minutes of each video, compared to just 3.6 minutes per video for visitors to Google's video sites, according to a report from comScore.

But that same report shows why Dailymotion wants its visitors to watch more videos, not just more of each video: comScore said that Dailymotion's 18.7 million unique French visitors watched an average of 14.3 videos each, while Google's 34.6 million unique French visitors each watched almost five times more.

About a third of Dailymotion's video views are prompted by promotion on its homepage and about 10 percent from internal search, according to company figures, making the homepage the obvious place to look for more video views. Between a third and a half of the videos are viewed offsite, embedded in other pages, with the rest viewed onsite, driven by external search engines and links.

Two aspects to the new layout were demonstrated to IDG News Service.

In one view, tiles of different sizes make up a checkered pattern of stills from the videos, each accompanied by a few words of description. Clicking on a tile plays the video in place or, for the smallest tiles, enlarges the video to cover an adjacent tile too.

In the other view, visitors are presented with a bottomless list of still images and accompanying descriptions. Clicking on one plays it in place in the list, while scrolling down just makes the list grow longer, much like viewing the messages on a Twitter profile.

In each case, the images displayed can be filtered by picking video genres from a list, dynamically changing the selection. More than one video can be set to play at once, and videos can also be played full-screen or shared on social networks by clicking on an icon within the playback area.

All that is a far cry from the page most visitors will still see, where selecting a video on the home page whisks a visitor away to the destination page for that video, and returning to the homepage requires a click on the back button.

"That's important because what users are trying to do is to find videos they want to watch, and you can only learn so much from a preview image and a couple of lines of text," said Hamilton.

"On the design side, we have made the site light and fast-loading," said Hamilton. "The speed of the site is of paramount importance for us."

The company expects the new preview designs and cascading feed of content to require more bandwidth than the current site, but isn't sure how the hoped-for increase in video views will affect the load on its servers. That's something it plans to watch closely as it rolls out the new homepage design over the next month.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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