The future of video in web design

There was a time when using video content on a website was a risky choice.

Footage was often slow to load, glitchy, and would sometimes cause viewers’ browsers to crash. It generally required complex coding or linking to a separate video hosting site. When video was used it would usually be fenced off as an extra option rather than integral to the overall presentation.

How times have changed. Although there can still be some drawbacks to using video these are far outweighed by the positives. Video has become the medium of choice for brands looking to make their website into more than just a boring, static shop window. Video is the natural way to add value through original content, to engage visitors and to show off products to their best advantage. Background videos make the website’s front page that much more impressive, while a combination of video and animation can demonstrate how an app works or allow visitor interaction.

video in web design

Video format choices

Until recently most online video was created using Flash, but this is now outmoded. It’s much easier these days to encode video using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, which is one reason for the format’s renewed popularity. HTML5 also works on most mobile devices, which generally aren’t Flash supported.

The other big question is whether your video should have sound or not. As a rule, the answer is no. Background video for instance should almost always be silent footage, running for 8-10 seconds at a time on a loop. These should generally be changed once a month to continue to engage regular visitors. Remember to keep text content to a minimum so that the background video can be seen!

Sound can be a worthwhile addition to featured video content if used wisely, but it should be easy and obvious for the viewer to disable it if necessary. Autoplay sound on launching should definitely be avoided, even if it’s easy to disable, as in many cases this will cause viewers to immediately quit the site.      

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Pros and Cons of video

Launching with a full screen video as soon as the website is loaded became very fashionable in 2015, along with the notion that a brand or product should tell a story. Video is a naturally kinetic storytelling medium, even when it only runs for just a few seconds. The message, image or lifestyle that a brand is seeking to convey can be condensed into a few key images, and these are so much more powerful as part of a video than as static shots.

In terms of search engine optimization (SEO), studies show that using video increases visitor engagement, attracting more consumers and keeping them for longer. However it can still slow down a site’s loading time and responsiveness, reducing delivery speed. This can count against a site in terms of SEO, although the methods and algorithms used by search engines like Google to determine page rankings change all the time. At the moment it’s true to say that the effectiveness of video largely depends on the connection speed of the user, but as broadband technology improves and online video becomes more commonplace and sophisticated this will become less of a problem.

Video does however put a strain on the bandwidth, and this strain will increase if the video is a hit and attracts the number of visitors hoped for. Before adding video content it’s advisable to check that the server can handle it. If it can’t, it might be worth considering changing servers or upgrading to a premium contract.

Need to know

An 8-second background video will generally cost a minimum of $1000 to produce, but stock video footage covering almost every imaginable topic can be sourced at very reasonable prices. Available in Standard or High Definition, this is a great way to add value and novelty to a website on a limited budget.

It’s vital that your video is watchable on mobile devices, as this is increasingly the way that most people regularly access the net. Smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly sophisticated and widespread on a global level, and will soon be the video-viewing portal of choice. The best time to watch video is often on long train journeys, in bed on a Sunday morning, or while waiting between appointments. These are all situations where the viewer is more likely to be using a phone or tablet than a PC. Therefore your video content needs to be fully mobile compatible and optimized for viewing on smaller, hand-held devices.


Future trends

Integrating video with marketing automation systems is a growing trend, as data from video engagement helps qualify those all-important analytics and customer information figures. This in turn enables companies to distinguish between mass viewers and specific target audiences, ultimately driving forward sales.

A personalized, targeted approach driven by video storytelling- moving the customer along a journey towards their end purchase point and beyond is increasingly the marketing strategy of choice. Original video content can only help this, and the competition to produce high quality, exciting digital video content is only going to get fiercer. This includes both advertising video and entertainment or information-based content that was previously the preserve of major media providers. Thanks to advancing technology and increasing bandwidths, the innovative video field is now wide open and new content will be specifically designed with the Internet in mind. Alongside this we will see much more high definition content as technology advances in this area.  

Tomorrow’s web design is going to see sites using video to attract and engage customers, telling them a story and taking them on a journey. Video can be both a showcase for a brand and a provider of high-value content in its own right. Improving standards mean that more people are watching videos online as opposed to on TV, and a shift of this nature will obviously have a seismic effect on advertising approaches. The potential of online video for interactivity and providing analytics mean that not only is it here to stay, it will undoubtedly be the focus of development and innovation for some time to come.

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