YouTube may soon introduce a new set of customization tools, allowing users to tweak their viewing dashboard. The speculation stems from YouTube opening up about the biggest tension it must balance in designing its interface: Casual users, who make up the bulk of YouTube visitors, want a super-streamlined interface with few distractions. But the smaller group of super-users, who drive YouTube's content and success, want a tricked-out dashboard for analytics, video sharing, growing their audience, and generating revenue on the site.
To push past traditional usability testing--seeing how many people can complete a certain task, such as uploading a video, with a particular interface--YouTube employed a method called FIDO, first developed at Fidelity Investments. Various video elements were cut out and stuck on magnets, allowing users to create their own ideal site. Casual and hardcore users tended to cluster around two interfaces.
The DIY method may have been used internally to give YouTube insight, but it's no surprise that most people actually fell somewhere along the casual-hardcore spectrum. A no-brainer next step would be for YouTube to open that customization toolkit to everyone.