Lose the video background!
Yep. I said that to the head of an augmented reality startup based in Paris.
“Lose the video background on your website. ”
You would think that video is a great way to showcase augmented reality.
Heck, it’s a video, right? That’s cool stuff!
Show the technology. Make the page dynamic. Draw people in.
That sounds right, but…
When videos are used as backgrounds on your website, the message they deliver to your customers might not be what you think.
In fact, being that the video is in the background without any sound, there’s no telling what the viewer is thinking.
Eye candy doesn’t create customers
Designing websites is a bit of a boxing match between “eye candy” and “user functionality.”
Websites should look awesome. No doubt.
But more importantly, your website should help you grow your business and reach business objectives.
This is done by making your website more useful and usable – the foundation of design improvement.
When your website becomes easier for customers to find and comprehend the information they need, there’s a greater chance they’ll to take action with you.
The other day, I was critiquing the website of an augmented reality startup. Killer product and amazing vision by the team’s head.
He asked for my feedback on their website just to get my immediate thoughts of the site.
Without hesitating, I told him to lose the video background.
My beef with video backgrounds
Video backgrounds can look visually sexy.
And there are some great examples of them.
BUT many companies, including this one, use them wrongly and end up causing more harm than good.
I’ve seen companies use video backgrounds that have little to do with their products/services because they “look nice.”
I’ve also seen product demo videos plopped onto the website background.
But if your website visitor doesn’t have prior knowledge of what the video is about, you are leaving it up to interpretation.
And for most B2B websites, customers might not fully grasp what the video is trying to communicate and end up leaving your site or choosing a competitor.
Backgrounds are treated as backgrounds
If users don’t understand that they need to be watching the video, they just gloss over it. And video backgrounds are usually just this.
No explanation to the user that they should watch the video to understand how product or service.
The video is instead like listening to background music at the coffee shop. You hear the beat, but not the words. You see the video, but you don’t examine it closely.
Any background, image, color, or video, doesn’t sell products and services.
Your main content is what sells your products and services.
So that’s my beef with videos. I think people are using them wrongly.
Here are a few other things I’d consider before implementing a video background.
Videos slow down websites
Slow websites reduce buyer intention and increase website abandonment (i.e. they go to your competitors). At Webodew, we use a speed benchmark of 2-3 seconds being a very good, above average website loading speed.
And getting this kind of loading speed is tough with video, especially if you’re using a content management system like WordPress.
Unless you spend decent money and time on good hosting, website caching, and possibly a content delivery network (CDN), videos are going to slow your website loading time down.
Videos don’t load on mobile devices
Video backgrounds don’t work on mobile devices like iPhone, which actually is a surprise to some. The quick solution is to fill in the background with an image. And visually that’s okay, but what usually ends happening is that you just try to think of a nice image to fill in the background.
This goes back to the point about the importance of the background. If you’re just treating it as a background, then the result will always feel secondary.
And in case you didn’t know, there’s a good chance that half of the people viewing your website are doing it from their mobile devices.
Videos push important content down the page
Video backgrounds are large by nature. They are rectangular and general require a lot of screen real estate to show something. And because putting text on top of a video makes it difficult to read, the text is usually placed after the video. Sure a sentence or two might be placed on top of the video, but usually not.
When reviewing conversation metrics with marketing companies, there is evidence that more users convert higher when they see what they need to see before scrolling. If you push important content lower, there’s a chance that the users won’t even read it.
I bashed website video backgrounds
Yes, I did.
I want to mention that I’ve used video backgrounds in some of my web designs. I’m not completely against them. They can add to a great visual display.
But if you using random videos to “fill in” space at the top of your web page because it “looks cool”, you’re heading in a bad direction with other consequences.
Video backgrounds are not your main content. If you are planning on using a video to demonstrate your product or services, I think you’ll get much better results if you warm the viewer up with text and tell them what they’ll get out of watching a video. understand what they’re what value they can get by watching.