Picking the Right Video Format
Publishing video on your website is now relatively simple. But with all the formatting options available, it can be difficult to choose the platform and video player that perfectly fits your needs.
The first step is to decide whether your video should be self-hosted or hosted on a social video platform such as Youtube or Vimeo. Making this decision, there are several important questions to consider: What is the purpose of the video? Who is your target audience? How many videos are you hosting? How would you like to integrate these videos into your website? Do they need to be optimized for search engines?
Self-hosting is optimal if you want complete control over the appearance and delivery of your content, but it is only recommended if you’re working with a small number of videos and if you have sufficient technical resources internally. The most common option for self-hosted video is Flash. Flash is customizable and consistent across all browsers while maintaining small file sizes. However, it tends to reduce quality, requires a third-party plugin, it is not search engine friendly, nor is it playable on most common mobile devices. This is why Flash is rarely used anymore.
An alternative solution to Flash is HTML5 video, which has seen a recent spike in popularity. HTML5 is fully customizable and supported by all modern browsers without a third party plug-in, even on mobile devices. In the case of older browsers, it can be configured to fall back to Flash. However, it is still a work in progress and in order for your video to be cross-browser compatible, it must be compressed in multiple formats. This can be quite time consuming and expensive.
If you’re not opposed to hosting your video publicly, Youtube and Vimeo are free and easy to use. They also carry weight in Google’s search engine algorithm which can improve the overall performance of your site. YouTube makes it easy to create your own video channel and publish all your videos in one spot, which means your video could show up as a “related video” giving you free, high-quality traffic. Not to mention, both of these services offer anlytics such as view totals and insights into the demographic of your audience. It also provides an easy-to-use format for feedback and ratings.
The downside of this method is that you have limited control over who sees your video, and there are very few custom settings. There is also the possibility of distracting visitors and driving traffic away (cat videos, anyone?).
Dedicated hosting platform
A dedicated video hosting platform is another good option, though it comes with a fee. This is practical for businesses with a lot of videos who wish to distribute their own video content. Most online news channels opt for this method, but we always recommend doing your research and evaluating your needs. Some example are Brightcove, Veeple, and VideoPress for WordPress.
Here’s a list of videos we’ve produced, and the corresponding platform: