With the rise of broadband internet and the wealth of online video content available from the likes of YouTube and BBC’s iPlayer, there’s never been a more compelling time to add video to your website.
Years ago video was problematic on the web. Slower internet connections meant most people couldn’t be bothered to wait for the download and a variety of different video plugins made it difficult for site owners to know which formats to support. In recent years Adobe’s Flash Video format has taken the lion’s share of the online video market, with over 80% of video on the web viewed via Flash (comScore, Sept 2008). The format supports both ‘progressive’ and ‘streaming’ download. The former stores the file on your website and plays as soon as a small part of the video has downloaded. Full streaming, via dedicated servers, is required when your visitor numbers are large or you need live video streams.
To add Flash Video to your web page you first need to encode a video in the Flash Video format. This basically means converting it from a standard video format, such as .mpg, into Flash Video format, which has a file extension of .flv. This is easily done with Adobe’s Flash Video Encoder, which comes bundled with Adobe Flash. There are also a variety of third-party suppliers who offer Flash Video encoders.
Once you’ve encoded the video you need to add this to your web page, again easily done using Flash or Dreamweaver which has a simple-to-use import feature.
If branding is important to you, the Flash Video playback user interface can be customised to include your company branding or other features as you see fit. Flash Video also has support for captioning via easy to update XML files, an accessibility requirement and a good idea if your audience includes deaf users.
Finally, if you don’t want the hassle of creating videos yourself there’s also the option of uploading your videos to YouTube and embedding the video in your web page.