Given how ubiquitous web video has become, it surprises me how often I stumble across a site that hasn’t implemented that video very well into their design. Even a few years ago it was moderately acceptable for your video to appear a little janky, but those days are over.
The tools for excellent video production are now well within reach of the average content producer, and the technique for making sure that video displays seamlessly within you design across a range of devices is well established.
So, don’t settle for less! Follow these simple tips, and we’ll have your website’s video looking fantastic in no time.
Have A Comfortable Presence
I know most of you aren’t actors by trade, you are incredibly busy entrepreneurs with too much to worry about already, but my first tip for anyone who plans to feature in their own video is about performance. As in, make sure there is one. Whether you like it or not, putting yourself in a video on your site makes you the de facto spokes-person for your biz, and you need to live up to that position.
Woah! Heavy burden, right? If you suffer from social anxiety, maybe, but even a little public-speaking skill should keep you on the right track. After all, we’re not looking for Shakespeare here. What your site visitors will be looking for is someone who seems comfortable and authoritative, who wants to be there. How do you convey this?
- Make eye contact with the camera whenever you can.
- Rehearse your lines enough that you don’t need to read them, and that will free you up to concentrate on speaking them naturally.
- Don’t go overboard with enthusiasm, it will come off as inauthentic. If you are a naturally zany person, then fine, be zany. But if not, just be yourself.
- Don’t ramble on. Front-load your most exciting/important info up front to grab people’s attention.
Be Professional, Use a Professional
If at all possible, you should have your video professionally shot. Having a family-member work the camera will often result in less-than-desirable results, and doing it yourself limits what you can produce, no matter how well you do it. A little good camera-work goes a long way, and lighting is difficult to do well and can make or break your shoot. Both of those things can be solved by hiring a pro to do your shoot for you.
Of course, that isn’t going to be possible for everyone, so if shooting on your own is what’s going down, then follow these tips to make sure you get the best results in your final product:
- Go for a static shot rather than have a friend hold the camera. They are likely to produce wobbly or jerky shots, and unless the reality-show vibe is what you’re going for, then that won’t be a good thing.
- Pay attention to the area you shoot in, look at how it’s framed in the shot, make sure it’s attractive and nothing seems amiss.
- Make sure that you have everything well lit. This can be very difficult to achieve without professional lighting, so if you’re having trouble with a dark or unattractively lit interior, think about switching to a location with natural light, where it can be easier to achieve a quality shot, provided the weather is cooperating.
- Output your video correctly. You should be hosting your video on Vimeo or Youtube, double-check the video format requirements for those services before you output to make sure that your final video doesn’t have any unexpected black boxes or other strange problems.
Check Your Embed
When you embed a Youtube or Vimeo video, it can display a bunch of chrome (info, controls, sharing features, etc). You really don’t want this stuff around. Ideally, the only thing you want overlaid onto the thumbnail of your video is a play button. You can turn off a bunch of that stuff in the same area you pick the embed code up, so make sure you have it all turned off. You can go much further with your custom embed if you want by adding some of these Youtube or these Vimeo parameters to the url. It gets a little techy in there, but it’s not crazy, and you can do important things like force HD playback and more. If those links make your head spin, get a code-savvy friend to help you out!
Say it with me now! Responsive! Responsive! We’ve hammered this particular nail a lot here on the Solamar site, and video is no exception. Embedded video is nowhere close to being as responsive as it needs to be by default. Your video should display at the correct aspect ratio with no unintended extra black space, regardless of device or browser size. Making it so involves adding some code to your website’s stylesheet, so it’ll need to be done by a developer, but I’ll link to that code here so you’ll have it when you need it.
Up until now we’ve been dealing with your typical embedded video, but using video as a background element has become a hot new trend. These videos are short (often 15-30sec in length) and used more as design elements and less as a way to transmit information. You can see an example of what I’m talking about over on the site we did for SCP Limited (it doesn’t display on small screens, so look on a big one). Zen Desk also has a hilarious example of background video put to good use, so check that one out for a laugh.
Background video can be a really effective tool for making your website seem “alive”, just make sure it doesn’t pull too much focus from your site’s main desired actions. It should complement, not dominate.
Want to make sure the video on your site is representing you as well as it can? Give the team at Solamar a shout, and we’ll make it the bees knees.