Twitch has made some changes to the user experience and interface, designed to increase discoverability and encourage users to browse new and smaller content creators. At present, Twitch’s system tends toward a slightly "top heavy" setup where big streamers get most of the attention, which can create a negative feedback loop for upcoming creators.
The update, which is currently only in the form of a test on Twitch, has not been rolled out to everyone just yet, but Twitch partner and streamer Kacey "Lowco" Shields talked us through it in the tweet below. In essence though, the biggest part of the update is a viewer that allows you to see a preview of streams as you browse the directory, without having to click through.
No ads on new Twitch preview feature
We reached out to Lowco for her opinion on the changes, what could be improved, and her thoughts on some of the criticism of the new features. “The most common complaint is not being able to completely minimize the stream preview. You can make it smaller but not do away with it entirely,” she told us.
“Other than that, I haven't seen many valid complaints, there are a lot of assumptions and misinformation people draw from seeing a screenshot.” She pointed out that users tend to be change-resistant in general, but time would be the true test. “I think after a few months people will get over it and forget what the old layout looked like. Once people get used to browsing streams this way, most will see it's actually a big improvement from the old way.”
This is a huge upgrade on the current system, especially with many streams auto-playing ads when you arrive, as viewers can now get a better idea of what they are going to see. The flip side is the potential for viewers to be exposed to harmful material if it is being streamed while they are browsing, but that is a separate problem related to moderation rather than the user experience.
According to Lowco, there will be no ads run on the stream preview, which was confirmed by Twitch staff as you can see below. The preview will also allow you to hear sound from the stream and even see chat if that’s something you want to do. This video preview feature already exists on other sites, with YouTube having the option to preview videos with or without sound when you hover over the thumbnail.
You can even collapse the browse list and get yourself a "cinema mode" look at the stream before clicking through if you want. The stream preview will stop after "about a minute", according to Lowco, which will protect streamers, and especially those without a key visual element, from users that would otherwise use the preview to avoid ads altogether.