Let's use an auto-play video for the background on our website!
October 26th 2015
Currenty most websites use a simple color or a background image as the background for their web site. For most home pages a solid colour or attractive image offers plenty of opportunity to set a tone for the site. Other sites need that powerful feeling of motion video to captivate and engage their audience. A well produced video can convince visitors that your company is on trend and suggest that you are the best choice to meet their needs.
While video can be a very powerful tool, there are some serious issues that need to be carefully considered before you drop a video into your website:
1. Videos are not small. Today's compression technologies are amazing. A short 30 second, high quality video can be around 20MB in size. This is not a lot for visitors that have a lot of data transfer available, however anyone visiting your site through mobile wireless will not appreciate having to load 20MB of data just to check your latest posts or grab your phone number off of your website. Most sites I've seen so far auto-replay the video once it's done. This may result in the same video downloading over and over. If a visitor hits your site and walks away while the video is playing, they may experience hundreds of megabytes, possibly even gigabytes of wasted data transfer. So far most of the websites I've seen have no option to stop or start the video. The recommended size for an entire web page is less than 1MB, especially for mobile devices.
2. Videos are great - once or twice. Once your visitor has seen the video, chances are they won't want to see it again. If you use the video throughout your site you risk annoying your visitors. An annoyed visitor likely won't want to come back.
3. Audio can be distracting. Most people do not like auto-play audio. At work a lot of people either don't have speakers or have their audio disabled. If the audio is part of your presentation then part of your effect will be lost. If you do have audio, make it optional.
4. If your video is too short, it will seem repetetive. If it's too long, people can lose interest.
5. Videos are expensive. If you're able to comfortably address the first 4 points, this last one is often the deal breaker. Videos tend to get stale quickly. Some sites like to use a selection of videos to help mix things up. The costs can add up quickly.
When working on websites one of our primary concerns is Search Engine Optimization. While we always like to encourage our clients to use photos and videos throughout their website, forcing video is not something we typically recommend. The reason is, one of the key tenets of SEO is that the website should create a pleasant experience for the visitor. If it does not, chances are that your visitors will not stick around long enough to get the message you are trying to send. Search engines invest heavily into determining whether or not your visitors enjoy the experience of your website and your search rankings may suffer accordingly.
If you're thinking of using the auto-play video background technique on your website perhaps consider this... explore whether or not you'll be able to send your message to your visitors using simple techniques like images, text, and even light animations. If the only way to get your message across effectively is through video, can you use image, text and light animations to encourage your visitors to choose to click a play button to see the video? Auto-play website background video may be exciting and glamourous, but it's not for everyone but it does have its place.