Why you shouldn’t use video behind everything

Why you shouldn’t use video behind everything

Morgan Smith's Layout avatar

You’ve seen it. The large, HD video header trend that everyone seems to be obsessed with on their websites.

Don’t get me wrong, like everyone else, I love it. It’s a cool way to show off your office, your process, or anything personal about your business.

But when ill-considered, these videos can lead to sloppy and hard-to-view content. Please, before you jump onto the video bandwagon, consider these factors to decide if video is right for you.

Does it match your audience?

If you’re designing a website for a rock band, crazy footage from a show might make for a really cool background video. But if it’s a website for your personal portfolio, that same video would be really intense and out of place.
If you plan for the video to appeal to the right audience, it won’t be as distracting. But if it seems out of place, your viewers may not even bother looking at the rest of the content. Have fun with the video, but stay focused.

Does it add value to your site?

Is there a real purpose behind your video, or are you simply trying to keep up with the trend? You want all of your content to have meaning behind it, so a video should demonstrate something purposeful about the brand.

If your video doesn’t have a point, there’s a good chance viewers will get confused. They might get mixed messages about your company, or worse, question your design aesthetic. Don’t add a video just to have one on your website; give it a clear purpose for being there.

Is it relevant and authentic?

Is the video relevant to the company or message you’re trying to share? I’m talking about obviously relevant. This is not a time to be abstract or to use symbolism. You want viewers to immediately recognize the the message your video is meant to portray.

Too many times now I’ve seen obvious stock footage used as a header video, and it just doesn’t make sense. If you’re going to use video, share what your company is truly about. Your viewers will appreciate that.

Does it work with other elements on your site?

Video follows the same rules as any other type of graphic background. If there’s text on top of it, can you read it? Do the colors work with the rest of your site?
You want your video to enhance the rest of your website, not detract from other meaningful content. If there’s text on top of it that isn’t legible, what’s the point of having text there at all? Make sure your video aids the other content on your site by complementing the color scheme, layout, and overall usability.

Does the focal point always make sense?

More than likely, your video has a focal point that you’d like viewers to hone in on. Think about where this lands, especially as window size may change. Does the focal point get cut off on a phone? Does it get hidden by a logo or other graphic that may land on top of the video when viewed on a tablet?
If viewers can’t see the main focus of the video, again, what’s the point? By understanding what happens to the video in relation to window size and other elements, you’ll ensure your video conveys exactly the same message for every user.

Once you’ve considered these aspects of the video trend, feel free to jump on the bandwagon. But until then, don’t sacrifice an already great website just to throw a sloppy video up. Put in the work to make a quality video that will enhance your website’s message, not take away from it.

Comments ( 1 )

  1. Erin E Flynn

    October 28, 2014

    Thanks for this! I keep seeing too many video headers that make no sense. A website I think does the video thing really well is http://www.suzilindner.com/ because it makes sense with her audience and is nice and clear (no, I didn't make the site!). I like to use her site as an example for my clients who are considering a video header.

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