Video inclusion on websites is now more the norm than an added bonus, but many companies are still new to what’s required to really make videos work properly – and smoothly – once they decide to take the step up from simply embedding a piece uploaded to YouTube or another mainstream host.
The fact is, poor use of video can slow down a page, and nothing impacts more on conversion rates (or, quite frankly, bounce rates) than an unresponsive webpage that struggles to load even the most interesting visual presentation. If anything, people will just revert to Googling an alternative source for the same video (or, indeed, a similar one), which will only drive custom away to competitors.
Without further ado, here are some quick and easy core considerations for videos on your website. While many may seem a bit too simple, they’re all very important – and often overlooked.
Say no to auto-play
I’m still to meet a person who wants a video to auto-play as soon as the page is opened. Some companies are notorious for it, such as ESPN, which also manages to rub salt into the wound by continuing a playlist after the initial (and often only partially-related) video finishes.
Many people blindly open tabs and then hunt down the offending page once it interrupts their music, or simply embarrasses a worker who’s forgotten to mute their laptop or leave their headphones plugged in. Once they find it, they’ll often kill it. Remember, Chrome even highlights which tab is playing sound, making it all the easier for a middle click to end the message, as well as the page. Make sure it’s not yours.
Pop-outs have become a simple way to compress a video into something a little wordier, and have been used to this particular effect on the likes of Huffington Post and local newspapers up and down the country. Sadly, page functionality usually demands hovering, which can be accidental when scrolling – in turn, affecting content positioning and annoying the user.
Keep it simple – bear in mind users may be on an older mobile device, or have plenty of tabs open or programs running, and will have this sometimes-clever page functionality chugging away and ruining the message before it’s even expanded fully.
Check every browser
Often, browser testing is a bit of an afterthought, especially for mobile. So, as a first point of order: even if it’s a case of getting a range of smartphones and tablets among your employees (and there’ll be a lot of different ones), as well as your core browsers – IE (8 onwards, minimum), Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera – you need to ensure you’re not overlooking specific browser requirements – especially if you can’t easily full-screen a video, or easily identify it as a video frame, or have it render so small that you can barely see “play” on mobile, never mind click it.
Ensure your preview is relevant, and actually attractive
You won’t believe how many businesses don’t change their video’s lead image on YouTube to anything other than the mid-point of the piece. Often, it can be something completely boring or unrelated. If you’re putting yours up, pick an important part of the video to hone in on – or, if budget and time allows, design a bespoke graphic for it. Make your video into a relevant image of its own right.
Avoid Shockwave like the plague, unless you’re truly comfortable with it
Chances are that you have to update your Adobe products more than you use them in the first place. Often, the only time you interact with Shockwave and its friends is to kill a plug-in that simply isn’t working – which in turn has probably sabotaged a number of other tabs on your computer.
Learn from this often-experienced issue, and remember that people simply don’t have the software installed. The same thing applies to Silverlight; if a user doesn’t have it, they’re not going to install it just to see your video.
If YouTube does you fine, stick with it
YouTube is a dependable asset, whatever you’re uploading. Everyone who watches video online knows their way around the site and its functionality, so why fix what isn’t broken by taking it in-house? Viewers on YouTube itself will also be given that all-important link to your site (providing you add it in the description).