All new for 2016: Myhairdressers.com (MHD) review!

Today marks the relaunch of one of the industries leading education based websites – myhairdressers.com alongside a complete rebrand which will see them now be called simply MHD. The relaunch is mostly a massive design overhaul, though there are some other changes scattered throughout which I’ll address a little later. For those that are unaware, MHD launched eight years ago as a website focused on online hairdressing education in the form of weekly videos with accompanying PDF downloads which gave step by step instructions of each cut or colour in the videos. The videos are curated by some top draw names such as Stacey Broughton, Tim Hartley, Mazella & Palmer etc. It’s subscription based and has annual and monthly options which come in at £15 per month or £120 for the year. With the redesign came a slight increase in the subscription prices, but for any of the old subscribers, you will keep your original subscription charge.

So how does the relaunch fair then? The videos are really the only content available and in this new look they have been rightly pasted first and forefront, which sounds like a strange sentence considering the sites main focus being media delivery, but the old design at times looked almost like a text heavy blog rather than a video content site. It’s fair to say that this re-design has been long overdue. Everything has been really stripped back here to eliminate a lot of the unnecessary text which really only muddled the old site and we’re now met with a very clean and modern design, there’s a lot of flat panels which are familiar to just about anyone and everything is organised to direct users quickly to video content. On mobile the site is very sharp and equally as fast as the web version, MHD mention there is an app coming for both iPhone and Android users, however that wasn’t available at the time of writing this on the launch date, though I imagine it will be soon. One of my personal pet peeves of the old site was that it never remembered you upon even short revisits and I found myself having to log-in continuously, I’m happy to say that this has been changed and log-ins are now far less frequent.

As far as the content goes, there is at current over four hundred videos, the meat of which, and what I would assume most people subscribe for, are the cutting and colouring videos of which it appears all old content has been retained and brought into the new site. At the time of writing, there are currently 113 womens cutting and 81 colouring videos, along with 35 mens cutting and 12 colouring videos. This is further bolstered by various other categories including lectures, which delve into subjects such as cutting theory to trichology, as well as how-tos going as basic as shampooing to cutting fringes and placing partings. One of the new features is the option to upload photos of your own work which “attach” to videos you’ve previously watched. So for example if you were to watch a video featuring a disconnected bob or a classic round layer, you can then upload up to four different shots of your work that are relevant to said video. I can see this being really useful when MHD is used as a third party tool for teaching and it’s a nice addition, the implications this can have on the way a tutor interacts with their students is fantastic, especially if you’re setting work to be done out of regular tuition hours. Only time will tell, but this could either be great or overlooked by non-students but we’ll see. Previously, there were options to search by educator, which could be useful if you found that you particularly liked a video and wanted to quickly see if they had contributed other videos to the site, unfortunately this option is no longer available. Whilst not a massive downpoint, it’s a shame we’ve actually lost some options, though the new site search is very fast and allows you to search for a contributors name that way.

The new video player is nice, its fast and simple and does what it needs to do displaying videos with what appears to be dynamic scaling, as there is no option to select quality manually. The videos play up to 1080p and look great, they’re all filmed with white backgrounds and are clear and brightly lit. At times I found it frustrating that they would play a repetitive generic electro song for almost the entire video rather than having the educator speak; and I’m afraid this is where MHD really comes up a little short. There are other sites with video content, both free and paid, where the educator will describe in great detail exactly what he is doing and why it is important. This is surely one of the cornerstones of education in my eyes. It’s not simply enough to see what someone is doing, without knowing why they are doing so. This does differ from video to video and some are better than others, but it is a very strong argument to make that a website like Factory.tv ran by DJ muldoon (who by the way, we interviewed here…) has far fewer videos, but a much deeper level of education than MHD. MHDs videos are for the most part the length of the cut or service, have a short introduction that offers some insight into the cut and then has very few insights into the ‘why’ thereafter. Whereas factory.tv, although having less, have haircut videos which run anywhere up to three hours and contain DJ non stop explaining every little step, exactly what he is doing and why, why, why he is doing it. I don’t mean to be too down on MHD here and whilst this doesn’t detract anything from using MHD as a tool in an education environment, I feel it is an important point to make, especially for those potential subscribers who are like me and like to ask a million questions or plan to do a lot of extra-curricular work by using the site (as I did during my time at school).

This does segue rather nicely however into a few concerns I have with this new look MHD. There is currently a robust library of content, however anyone that paid attention to one of the original emails sent out to current subscribers concerning the reluanch might have picked up on the following:

Rather than weekly videos, we’re working with the biggest names to release exclusive seasonal trends, collections, celebrity looks, business and marketing advice and much much more throughout the year. Our last weekly video will be January 1st.

Oh..

For new subscribers, this isn’t going to be a problem for a long time, however for old subscribers, I am concerned how much value this new system will have to me, now that I’ve more or less done the old content to death. Then there was the next revelation I bumped into upon testing out the new video player, lets talk advertising to subscribed customers shall we? I loaded up a video to check out the new web player and up loads an MHD splash screen, no problem, a lot of web video services use a splash screen as a pre-load, a way to buffer the upcoming video behind the splash screen so that it appears to play instantly, very subtle, no problems. I did notice however, there was that line, you know the one: “Advertisement, your video will resume shortly”. Now given that this new look MHD only launched today, it got me thinking, is this just a line of code that accompanies a pre-load video, or are they actually planning on getting advertising revenue from this? So of course, I had a look and unfortunately, I didn’t have to look very far.

In 2016 MHD and MHDPro.com will launch with a newly developed platform, set to take advantage of the growth of video advertising across desktop and mobile devices with a fully integrated high definition video player incorporating pre-roll advertising before our tutorials start, giving you the power to reach our growing number of site visitors and subscribers.  – http://www.mhdproductions.com/advertising/

There is nothing subtle about that and it’s pretty clear where they aim to go with this. I’m a little queasy at the thought to be honest. Now don’t get me wrong, not all advertising is inherently bad. This is a very targeted website, the ads are only going to be relevant. Exactly how relevant remains to be seen and frankly I’m more or less against the concept of being shown adverts on a platform that I already pay for. So this is a tricky situation. MHD have made quality videos with some really amazing educators, however, It does offer me a note of caution when coupled with the previous announcement that weekly videos are being replaced by ‘seasonal’ videos. I have to be careful not to be too speculative here, but what this new content will contain remains to be seen, the quote above from the email is vague and could quite easily be read as “We will be making marketing videos for big companies. Oh yeah, and some marketing and business advice”. I will now be watching the level of output and quality a lot more closely. As an old subscriber I’m starting to feel like something of a loser in this situation, but I will give it a fair crack and I hope for the future content to be solid and frequent enough to retain my subscription. Not everyone will feel like this about advertising on pre-paid content and new users are unlikely to feel the pinch of not having enough new content with such a large archive, but I think it’s a legitimate concern.

All in all this is a long overdue update to the website, its quick, clean and easy to use. For new subscribers, students and even for many old subscribers MHD is going to offer great value for money and provide hours of great education. As a third party tool it will continue to shine. There are definitely things to be concerned about for older subscribers however and we will have to wait and see how both the new seasonal content and advertising is to be handled.

2017-10-25T01:30:56+00:00 January 26th, 2016|Articles, News, Reviews|0 Comments

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