Whether captured with a phone or professionally produced, video is proving to be a powerful medium on the web and posting it on your site can improve user experience and possibly even bolster your search results placement.
So let’s say that you’ve got a video and you want to put it on you web site. Now what?
Edit for Length and Quality
Video files can be extremely large so you should cut out any unnecessary bits to keep the file size as small as possible. That will also help ensure that you are providing your users with quality content.
Depending on the content of your video and your audience, you may need to have it transcribed or captioned to meet legal obligations (and foster a positive user experience).
Output for Web
Video support has changed a lot in the last few years so you’ll need to make sure you output your video in a common format. Although there is some support for WebM and Ogg formats, I recommend using the MP4 format with a H264 video codec and an AAC audio codec.
Choose Your Hosting Solution
There are a lot of different options out there, but in most cases it will be easier to host your video externally with a third party solution (like YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia) and use the tools provided by that service to embed it on your web site. Here’s why:
- Hosting your video with a third party means that you don’t have to worry about added strain to your server or the potential costs associated with it.
- Most hosting services will optimize your video for the greatest possible support across browsers, platforms, and devices. When you upload the video, they may even create multiple copies of it in different formats to be served up as needed to support the user’s setup.
- Most third party solutions will already come with a video player. Your video won’t play itself; you actually need a player with controls to play, pause, etc.
- Many video hosts like YouTube and Vimeo also include a marketplace where users can browse and search for uploaded videos. That provides added exposure to a potentially huge audience, but they will also usually allow you to keep your videos private if you prefer.
- Third party solutions offer tools to share or embed your video quickly and easily. They’ll usually provide a snippet of HTML that you can paste into your site and you can display the video as if you hosted it yourself.
Video Hosting Solutions
YouTube is great, because it’s free, incredibly easy to use, and has exceptional support across the various browsers, devices, and platforms. However, it can lack a certain professionalism and there are ads.
In my mind, Vimeo is essentially the hip alternative to YouTube. The videos (in general) tend to be a bit more polished and professional. It’s also free, easy to use, and has great support and they offer a paid solution if you need a richer set of options.
I only recently started working with Wistia when a client came to me with this exact question and, for professional web sites, it has become my preferred solution. Their free option is pretty limited so it does come with a cost in many cases, but they have a really great suite of tools and it’s still quick and easy to setup like the others.
Hosting video yourself
There a lot of reasons why you might choose to host a video yourself, but if you go that route, you’ll need to select and implement a video player on your site. Here are a couple of players that I’ve worked with:
I’ve worked with JW Player for several years and I’ve found it to be a solid player with really good support across the board. It’s an excellent paid solution for professional web sites.
Video.js is an HTML5 video player with a Flash fallback for older browsers. This solution may take a bit of custom implementation, but is otherwise free.
Once the player has been implemented, you just need to upload your video and reference it on the appropriate page.
Video can be a lot of work, but there are solutions out there that can make it a lot easier and help you reap the rewards for your efforts. I’ve mentioned just a few solutions that I’ve worked with, but please add your recommendations to the comments.