The use of video backgrounds has become an increasingly popular web design trend in recent years. Rather than a static image, some webmasters embed a video in their site’s background. Considering that one-third of all internet activity involves watching video, you may feel compelled to use background videos. However, this web design trend can hurt your site’s ability to attract and retain visitors in several ways.
You can expect fewer conversions on a sales or lead-generation web page that’s designed with a video background. This is because video distracts visitors away from the call to action (CTA). Rather than seeing the CTA, visitors will automatically be drawn to the video. Whether you’re trying to sell a product, acquire email newsletter signups or generate call inquiries to your business, you’ll experience fewer conversions on your site when using a video background.
Longer Load Times
Video backgrounds will also affect your site’s speed, forcing visitors to wait longer for it to load. According to Kissmetrics, 40 percent of internet users will abandon sites that take longer than three seconds to load. While many factors can increase a website’s load times, the presence of video is one of the most influential. When you embed a video directly on a web page, it increases the total file size of that page as well as the number of HTTP requests. A single YouTube video, for example, triggers nearly a dozen HTTP requests, each of which increases the page’s load times. When a visitor lands on the page, his or her browser must execute these requests to render the video.
Mobile Compatibility Issues
You may encounter mobile compatibility issues when using a video background. According to TechCrunch, mobile internet surpassed desktop internet for the first time in 2016. With more users browsing the internet on mobile devices than desktop computers, a mobile-friendly website is essential for online businesses. Even if a video background is compatible on a desktop computer, though, it may not be compatible on a smartphone or tablet. Mobile devices have smaller displays and different software than their desktop counterparts. Therefore, some mobile device users may struggle to watch a video background on your site.
Furthermore, a video background will consume more bandwidth than a traditional background with a static image or images. For desktop users with broadband-connected Wi-Fi, this typically isn’t an issue. But for mobile users with a 4G LTE connection, a video background may consume a significant amount of their monthly data limit. Some mobile users may be hesitant to use your website if it consumes a significant amount of their data, resulting in less traffic and fewer returning visitors.
You have to be careful when choosing a video to use as your site’s background. Grabbing the embed code from a YouTube video and pasting it into your site’s HTML could result in ads being displayed. Thousands of YouTube publishers enable ads on their videos to generate revenue. Some of these ads display at the beginning of the video whereas others display as an overlay at the bottom 20 percent of the video. Regardless, you probably don’t want ads displaying on your website. Google explains that only the original publisher and YouTube generate revenue from an embedded video’s ads. This means you’ll be sending free traffic to the publisher’s video and helping him or her generate revenue if your site has a video background with ads.
Lower Search Rankings
If you want to achieve a top search ranking for your website, you should avoid using a video background. Search engines pay close attention to a web page’s content when determining a ranking for it. In fact, Google says that content quality is the most significant ranking signal used in its algorithm. Content is available in many different forms, including text and video. The former, however, is more beneficial than the latter.
Search engines can easily crawl text content to understand what it’s about. If you publish an article that explains how to housebreak a puppy, Google and Bing will see the exact context of this article. As a result, you may discover your web page ranking at the top of the search results for the phrase “how to housebreak a puppy.” Unfortunately, search engines struggle to crawl and understand video content. Granted, Google and Bing can see the video’s title, description and other elements, but they can’t understand the context of the video. This otherwise subtle nuance makes video content less effective for search engine optimization (SEO) than text content.
Poor User Experience
Creating a positive user experience requires a clean, functional web design. Numerous studies have shown, however, that autoplay video hurts websites’ user experience. Google has even taken steps to discourage websites from using autoplay video. In April 2018, the search engine company updated its Chrome browser to mute autoplay video, citing the negative impact of autoplay video on user experience. Autoplay video, including a background video, forces visitors to watch the content, which can leave many feeling dissatisfied.
Difficult to Update
Finally, a video background can be difficult to update. With a traditional background, you can easily make changes in Adobe Photoshop or any other graphics editing program. Modifying a video background, on the other hand, requires editing the video or recording an entirely new video. If you’re tired of looking at your site’s video background, you must exhaust significant time and resources into updating it with a new video. If you’re a business owner, you may lack the necessary time and resources to make these changes.
As you can see, video backgrounds have some serious flaws. They distract visitors away from the CTA, create mobile compatibility issues, slow down your site’s load times, promote lower search rankings and more. You can still use video on your website, but don’t integrate it into the background. Rather, use video as a supplemental form of content to help convey the messages of your web pages.
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