Rich media content, such as video and audio, can add a significant impact to a website’s presentation, but not all implementations are created equally. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of adding video and audio to a website.
DO Question the Reason for Adding Media
There needs to be a legitimate reason for adding video or audio to a website – a reason that ties into your business goals for the site and the needs of that site’s audience.
Simply adding media just because you can, or because your competitors use video on their sites, is not a sound strategic decision. Determine how that media content plays into your overall business strategy and make sure that the media you do add is relevant to the site as a whole.
DON’T Autoplay Media…Ever
One of the most jarring online experiences is when you visit a website and the media begins to unexpectedly play, blaring sound out of your speakers when you least expect it.
The most common response in this situation, in addition to jumping from your seat, is to immediately click the “Back” button and leave that site altogether. Driving people away from your site is probably not what you had in mind when you decided to add that media, is it?
When adding video or audio content, never autoplay the media. Always require a visitor to trigger the media to play only when they are ready for it.
DO Consider the Performance Impact
Both video and audio files can often be quite large in terms of their file size. Adding those files to a website means that visitors will need to load them in order to view the site as intended. This impact on a site’s performance is something you should absolutely consider as you optimize that site for faster performance.
After you’ve added media files to a webpage, be sure to test that page’s download speed to ensure that it is within an acceptable range, and never sacrifice performance solely for the potential “WOW factor” that media may add. Remember, if a site loads too slowly, then no one is likely to wait for that awesome video to load anyway.
DON’T Forget to Test on Multiple Devices
Media files that work great for certain devices, but which completely fail for others, is a poor experience considering the multi-device audience that now visits our websites. On today’s Web, a site must deliver a suitable experience for visitors using a range of devices, from large-screen desktop computers to tablets, to smartphones and beyond. Adding a video or audio clip that does not play on some of these devices, perhaps because it uses a Flash player, which does not work on select devices, is a poor decision. Visitors who come to the site with those unsupported devices will be left frustrated that they could not get the content that they were after. This is why you must test your site and the media you use to ensure it is available across the widest range of possible devices.
DO Offer Alternatives to Video Content
In addition to ensuring that the media files you use work on different devices from a technical standpoint, you should also make sure that you offer an alternative to that media when possible.
For example, I rarely surf the Web with speakers on. My office environment does not really allow for audio to be played directly and I do not care for wearing headphones at my desk, so when I visit webpages, sound files are lost on me.
If I click a link and find that the only way to get the content is by watching a video, I will most often just leave that page. If, however, there is a summary of the content provided in text format, I can get the information I need without the video. This is a great overall user experience because it puts the power in visitors’ hands as to how they will consume your content.
DON’T Overdo It
When adding rich media to a website, I always caution web designers to follow the “Spiderman Principal” – which any comic book fan will tell you means “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Media should add to an already good experience and help reinforce quality content. It should not overwhelm the experience. When adding video or audio, take a less is more approach and be sure that the media you do add is relevant and of good quality.
About the author: John M. Caviness is a successful marketing manager at the service where you can ask to “type my essay”. This job gives him an opportunity to express his opinion and thoughts on different topics including web development.