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Value in More value out

10:10 pm on Apr 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from CA 

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joined:Nov 25, 2003
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There are two things we hear about most often regarding people and their interaction online:
1. they spend most of their mobile use in apps.
Of course this is somewhat disingenuous as apps are dominated by games and a few major platforms such as Amazon, FaceBook, Google. Once those are filtered one finds that mobile browser use remains quite healthy and smaller sites (as well as smaller apps) can manage quite well. With the right unique selling proposition(s)...

Given the contextual differences between 'fixed' desktop and more 'mobile' devices there can certainly be challenges for a site that has dominated desktop 'going' mobile. It is not simply a matter of rendering but also whether the content is readable and appropriate (and usably simple) for a user on a mobile device.

2. they spend much of their 'waiting' time watching videos.
YouTube is pretty much the given default video destination as it has become many/most webdev' host for videos. So much so that they upload to YouTube and then embed the YouTube location on their page. Extremely easy, simple and convenient.

It also means that most of one's video traffic never visits one's site. One may get a bit of ad revenue but not so much the follow on from additional ads and/or page visits. A significant downside. However, hosting videos oneself is typically neither simple nor inexpensive. Therefor a major investment step. So major that for many the ROI makes little/no sense.

However, if one can make the investment and simply use YouTube et al as marketing channels rather than hosts the benefits can be immense. The vids become a reason for return visits (just as they are for YouTube), accompanying transcripts add valuable copy aka search query fodder, etc.

If one does take the plunge into self-hosting the videos on one's pages there are a few things I've found to be 'best' practices - a highly relative/subjective term so please do test before rolling out as your results may well be different.
* don't oversize the video on the page, think of it initially as an image, supporting the textual content.
Note: if the page is simply the video plus transcript that is quite different.

* don't simply show the first frame of the vid with the play arrow in the centre. Instead again think of the still vid as an image: what frame from the vid best (1) illustrates the content of the vid, (2) compliments the surrounding text, and (3) grabs the eye.

A very simple usability addition, yet powerful indicator that it's a vid and not an image is to place the running time in a bottom corner. I like to accentuate the obvious by prefixing the words 'playing time'.

There should also be a descriptive caption - think of it as the title line in a search result page.

If you can incorporate a rating ability - only for those who watch to the end - that can be a major benefit. The rating can be either added to the caption or (my preference) shown in the other bottom corner of the initial vid image.

* for longer videos (I consider that 30sec+) on hover (desktop) or touch (mobile) provide a synopsis preview that plays selected (1sec minimum, 10sec max) frames to illustrate what will be shown.
Once the video is playing allow the timeline to be manipulated to show, picture in picture, what will show at each (you control granularity) time point.

* incorporate easy simple obvious enlarging and minimising of video for user determined best viewing.
Note: device default browser behaviour may be sufficient. A business decision.

* the image/caption as vid placement holder is convenient for both bandwidth and initial rendering. I load the synopsis preview asynchronously in the background but hold on streaming the video itself until requested by user.

An option well worth including is the ability to detect and stream a resolution and bitrate appropriate to the device AND available bandwidth while still giving the user the ability to override.

* include accurate descriptive closed captioning.

* offer a linked transcript - some people actually prefer to read. So do SEs.

* if, as me, one has storyboarded a vid as part of preproduction consider creating a slideshow alternative/additional option - especially if the vid is longer than 10 minutes. Think of it as a skimmers transcript.

* for those who sell direct ad space and/or have affiliate presell consider the added value of product placement, product/service info links, affiliate links, etc. incorporated into vid, slideshow, transcript.
Note: still valid, if dated (hold the Flash!) examples of the holistic incorporation of content and revenue is a posts I wrote at Cre8 almost a decade ago:
---Lift Up Your Eyes II [cre8asiteforums.com], 2008.
Tech may change but ideas tend to resist sell by dates.

* etc.
Multimedia is extraordinarily complex. To do well is difficult, to do well consistently repetitively requires creating a methodology from doing it right.

If there is money in YouTube vids there is even more for vids on your own site. Plus visitor retention and return. Plus plus plus...
3:33 am on Apr 18, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 26, 2001
votes: 893

Great post iamlost

Possible problems with self-hosting video files at shared hosting sites has typically been:

Size of the video files are very large. Difficult to keep them small unless the webmaster has editing skill.

Cross platform support for the video player. Better options nowadays, however many users have disabled Flash because of recent security issues.

Hot-linking to the video file can cause overages quickly. Many shared hosts offer something close to unlimited bandwidth nowadays, but remote linking, especially from a high-traffic forum for example, can cause resource hog issues and may attract interaction from the host admins.
1:32 pm on July 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member topr8 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 19, 2002
votes: 76

This is a great post iamlost, thank you.

i'm going to launch a new site with self hosted videos. (they are product demonstration videos of a reasonably niche series of products)
i'm planning just to use html5 video tags on the page, i'm worried about going forwards not backwards, so any browsers not supporting them i don't mind.

can i just ask a quick question: do you use any kind of browser, viewport sniffing in order to serve different 'sizes' of video to different devices?

i was thinking that server side i can populate the <source> tags with different videos depending on the device i'm serving to, available screen size mostly as i haven't worked out a way of discovering connection speed.