Howcast, How-To Video Site, Relaunches and Has Billion Views

PHOTO: Howcasts new site, seen here, houses lots of how-to videos.
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Darlene Liebman holds up her neon-orange painted fingernails and points to her second finger.

"See," she says, "It's the new matte finish. Different than your typical gloss finish."

Ms. Liebman, co-founder and executive producer of Howcast, an online library consisting of over 13,000 how-to videos, just came from a shoot on how to give yourself a manicure.

But her nails aren't the only things that have been polished.

Howcast, which has just relaunched its website to add new navigation features, reports the number of viewings of its videos has now passed one billion.

Other websites like eHow and MonkeySee provide similar How-To video tutorials. Howcast's videos are distributed through a number of sites and platforms, including AOL, YouTube, and Hulu and spanning distribution across mobile, the web and in-home networks.

The company is expanding from how-to videos into more categories with curriculum-based collections.

"The goal is to encourage the viewer's engagement. Everything drives you back to a guide," Liebman said in an interview with ABC News.

Take, for instance, "How to Give Yourself a Manicure."

When you click on the title, the site brings you to the Nails and Manicure category, displaying the video player along with 15 related tutorials.

The videos are organized in a sequence, aimed at leading the viewer through a syllabus on manicure techniques.

You can toggle between viewing these as a numbered list or as a string of thumbnails. The site's library includes 11 categories -- paired down from 25 on the previous website -- ranging from Tech to Health to popular how-to tutorials on video games.

Other improvements to the website include enhanced navigation tools, including a carousel tool below the player that allows you to move back and forth among the available videos in a particular guide, and a check-mark overlay indicating which videos you've already watched.

Tom Bender, Howcast's VP of product development, told ABC News that these features "allow the viewer to track progress and lend a level of quality and credibility to the site. It provides a context to the viewer to see these [videos] in a coherent series, something other video sites don't do."

While Howcast now has a large library of helpful how-to's, it is by no means a catchall for online video.

Liebman, along with her twin brother Jason Liebman, who is the CEO of Howcast, say they have set a high bar for video to be included on the site.

She credits her editorial team with an ability to discern what will, and more importantly, what will not work for content on the site.

"Our experts have to be articulate and intelligent, but they also have to be a good teacher. If we can't find a good expert, we won't do it," Ms. Liebman said.

It's this same sort of decision-making that motivated Howcast to redesign its website.

The effort, says Mr. Liebman, is a reflection of the company's responsive, information-driven culture. "We're big believers in data," said Jason Liebman, referring to how the company evaluates what their viewers are looking for on the web.

Custom-built analytical tools allow Mr. Liebman and his team to figure out what viewers are looking for, what they want to know.

"It's the secret sauce," he said. "We're always listening to the community to make sure we're providing them with what they want."

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