In theory, most of us love a sleek video that tells us what we need to know and packs a visual punch.
From a web development company’s perspective, sites that incorporate video have been shown to increase both engagement and conversions. Video, however, is a double-edged sword.
That’s because video – comprised of larger files than a conventional image – can also cause pages to load slower, which, in turn, decreases engagement. According to Google, even a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load can cause users to abandon it.
So, strategists and web developers alike face a challenging conflict: how do you incorporate vibrant and engaging video content while keeping your page load speed lightning fast for modern consumers?
Host video content on an external platform
Not all browsers can play all file formats (e.g. WebM). There are, however, a few ways to get around this. One option is to host videos on YouTube or Vimeo, and embed it into your website from the external site. This will ensure cross-browser compatibility, as all users will be able to view a YouTube or Vimeo video. Despite the external server response time here – which plays a role in page load times – it’s a lot easier than what it takes to optimize a self-hosted file that loads just as fast.
Measure page speed
There are times when hosting your video on an external site simply isn’t an option. Perhaps it doesn’t fit within your overall UI, or perhaps you prefer to host and control all of your content. If you need to host a video, ensure you’re testing the page speed both before and after its integration – and optimize the video if needed.
Choose autoplay carefully
Autoplay can be a nice touch for background videos or educational content, however autoplay isn’t always easy. Aside from some users being annoyed by videos that play automatically, some browsers have limitations. Safari, for instance, has blocked autoplay for years. Recently, they’ve loosened their rules a bit, but autoplay still won’t play on iOS devices if it has audio or if the whole video isn’t visible on screen. If an autoplay video is still top of mind for you, then your web developer can find ways to achieve it for most users.
Use full-screen video sparingly
There’s no doubt about it … a full-screen video has an immediate and theatrical impact. However, a good web development agency will also tell you that those sleek, full-screen videos need to be used carefully.
For starters, it’s best to make them short and simple. As you might imagine, videos of this size can be a massive drain on your bandwidth, especially if they’re high-quality (as they should be). Aside from being simple, it’s best to make your full-screen video as a background, where it will grab people’s attention but not compete for it. Again, if you want to incorporate audio, it’s best to make that optional for users.
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Despite shifts in video trends, it’s unlikely that this feature will ever completely go out of style. Movement, colour and narrative have a way of catching the eye and crafting a story in a way that text alone – or even static images – simply can’t. They’re great for showing products in the e-commerce sphere and equally great for telling the story of your brand or showing the impact of your services.
To best leverage this unique feature, however, web developers need to carefully balance its look and feel with bandwidth requirements and video’s natural tendency to slow down page load speeds. Like many aspects of web development, it’s a balance that, when skilfully handled, can give your digital presence an edge.