Video backgrounds are a great way to enhance the visual appeal of your website, but like any design feature, there are a number of guidelines that must be adhered to ensure that you don’t sabotage that appeal. With that in mind, here’s our Video Backgrounds 101.
Things to consider when adding a video background
Loading times matter
Even a spectacular video background is of little value if it creates a big burden on page loading times. Slow speeds are bad for two reasons; they frustrate your visitors and they’re of detriment to your search rankings.
Never add sound
This is a cardinal rule that must never be broken when it comes to implementing a video background. Don’t ever add sound to it. It’s sound that makes autoplaying media so utterly infuriating.
Add a placeholder image
Unfortunately, even a wonderfully crafted and thoughtfully optimised video can go to waste if it refuses to play. Ensure you always have a backup image to take its place in case of emergency.
Avoid using video backgrounds on mobile devices, as the autoplay nature of it can tarnish the experience for mobile users. Also, remember that some users may only have a limited mobile data allowance, so it will only aggravate them if it’s being spent on your fancy video backgrounds.
Less is more
Video backgrounds are best used to strengthen a visitor’s first impressions. As the majority of visitors enter your site through the home page, it’s a good idea to only use them on the home page, as well. Using them liberally throughout the site will lessen their impact and may even begin to irritate users, as video backgrounds are not necessary and they’re not typical, either. They’re purely there for the ‘wow factor’.
Ensure maximum legibility
Most video backgrounds have text overlayed upon them to convey a message, so it’s important that there is a clear contrast between the elements to provide maximum clarity. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use a monochromatic video background. Then it’s just a case of using light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background.
It should be exclusive
The whole point of adding a video background is to enhance your brand. You’re only going to achieve this if your background is comprised of content that is exclusive to your brand. If it’s some stylish yet ultimately generic video that has no real ties to your company, then it isn’t going to captivate your visitors.
Video backgrounds give you an opportunity to showcase something that is unique about your business, whether it be your revolutionary products, your methods or simply the ‘good old fashioned service’ that you offer.
If you don’t yet have the resources to create your own unique video, consider using any number of stock video sites. There’s a whole host of premium video options available from vendors such as Adobe, Shutterstock and iStock, but there’s also some great free alternatives as well, from sites such as:
No pause button
This goes against conventional web design wisdom, which dictates that a visitor must be given complete control over their experience. However, provided you have an excellent video background that conforms to everything we’ve discussed in this list, your visitors should have no need to stop it from playing.