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Vimeo cuts the clutter with a sexy redesign

Vimeo does some housekeeping with a revamp of its channels feature. We also get an inside look at what the company is up to.

Web video host Vimeo has rolled out a really cool new update to its content channel pages. Channel owners can now design their video pages with one of 10 new themes, and pick from three different layouts, including a new "gallery" view which scales up the main video player into glorious 940x530 (up from the standard 640x360).

In a call with Andrew Pile, Vimeo's director of development, he told me the change was all about making it easier to find content, as well as giving users more control over the presentation. He said users were complaining that channel pages were getting too cluttered. As a result, blogs, calendars, files, and forums have all been removed, putting more focus on the videos, which users can now rearrange.

The new gallery view makes the video player the center of attention, and puts a playlist underneath which channel owners can rearrange. CNET Networks

The change is one of many for the small video company. Pile says 2009 is going to bring big things. "People want videos all over the place," he says. As a result, the company is planning to switch over to H.264 encoding to widen distribution. This will let users watch their videos in places besides their computer, like iPods, iPhones, and on game consoles.

Vimeo is also planning to tighten down on freeloading companies who are simply using its service to host videos about their latest features. As a result, screencasts may be the next thing to get banned from the service. Last year Vimeo took a stand on users uploading footage of video games with the defense that it went against the creative concept of the site. This was met with a mixed user response. Vimeo's hardcore users were happy to see the gaming content go, while others cried foul about censorship.

"I don't know what the future of screencasts are," Pile says. "We do not want to be the company that people use to externalize their hosting costs."

At the same time, companies that may have flocked to the service for its fluid player and HD-quality streaming video aren't given many options. Vimeo does not offer a white label or "professional" hosting service, nor is it in the immediate plans. Late last year Vimeo introduced a "plus" service, although that was mainly to give its power users a higher upload limit and access to new features like statistical analytics--something that's due in the next few weeks.

I've embedded a look at the new features after the break.

HQ update from Blake Whitman on Vimeo.