Full-screen video backgrounds (large videos that auto-play when you first come to a website’s homepage) have been around for several years, but are becoming more and more popular on professional service websites. Are they something you should employ, or a fad that will be gone in a few months’ time?
Let’s begin by looking at a few examples of sites with video backgrounds (click each screen below, use a desktop or laptop computer to view):
There are many factors to consider before adding video to your homepage. Here is a brief list of pros and cons:
- Video is engaging. We are naturally drawn to moving images. They pull us into the website and, hopefully, encourage us to explore more.
- Videos can help convey your brand. In a split second, a video can set a mood or evoke a feeling, which is harder to do with a static image or via text.
- Videos look modern. Website trends are always changing, so it’s impossible to know if video backgrounds will start to look dated in a few years. But for now they seem cutting-edge. Video sends a message to site visitors that your firm is forward-thinking.
- If your homepage doesn’t load quickly, visitors may get frustrated and go elsewhere. A well programmed website should load a video quickly and not make visitors wait while a “loading” wheel churns. However, if a user has a slow connection, they may find your video homepage slower to load.
- Video backgrounds are inherently auto-playing — they play without the user clicking anything. But many mobile platforms (including iOS) and legacy browsers do not support auto-playing video. Thus, a backup option is required, such as a static image.
- Videos can be distracting. It’s important to think of these as backgrounds, not documentaries. Lengthy or highly detailed videos will compound load speed issues.
- It’s important to think of these videos as backgrounds, not stories. Don’t try to explain what you do, simply set the stage.
- Limit the length of background videos to 15 or 20 seconds at most, then loop the video to start over.
- Hire a professional videographer and editor. Videos that look “home-spun” can have a negative affect on your brand.
- Do not have sound auto-play. If you really want music or ambient noise (which I don’t recommend), allow users to turn it on themselves.
- Don’t over complicate. If you add video to your website, keep the rest simple. Video can be distracting, so confusing users further with non-intuitive navigation and other design elements can be overwhelming.
In closing, if you decide to use a video background on your website, be sure to stay on-brand. A video background is the perfect opportunity to convey the personality of your firm. Start by defining your brand, and then create a video background that reinforces it.
Vanessa’s article first appeared in SMPS Boston’s Outlook, .