Web video for the rest of us

This post originally appeared on Mod7.com. Mod7 is now a part of OpenRoad Communications. Please visit our About page to learn more.

cat-video

A drastic shift in web video poses new challenges. How does it affect you?

Video is a large part of the internet, and it’s not all cat videos. Organizations use video to extend their brand and engage their audience. The rise of video on the web has traditionally relied on Adobe’s proprietary Flash™ technology; however, with the shift to mobile devices, video has very quickly moved away from Flash™ and towards HTML5.

Why the shift?

The reason is simple: most mobile devices can’t view Flash™ content. This problem is solved through the recent introduction of HTML5, which enables us to play video on nearly any modern device.

But not everything’s perfect. As with all technology shifts, there are growing pains. Users view the web from many web browsers (for example, Firefox or Internet Explorer) and while newer versions of these browsers support HTML5 video, they often require different video file formats. As a result, content editors need to supply two copies of every video. To further complicate things, older web browsers can’t play HTML5 video, so websites still need to offer a Flash™-based solution.

Mobile users are limited by both bandwidth speed and data restrictions. Large, high-quality videos download slower, and use up the users’ limited data. To offer good mobile experience without negatively affecting desktop users, you should provide videos at a smaller size for mobile users.

So, if you want to offer video on your website, you’re looking at the following:

  • Two video files for desktop users
  • One or more video files for mobile users
  • Both HTML5 and Flash video players

It’s more complicated, more error prone, and more work for content editors.

Staying ahead of the curve

So, how does an content editor manage all of this? Don’t. Sometimes leveraging a third-party video host can be the answer.

A good video host will let you upload a single video file and they’ll automatically convert it to all the required formats for you. When a user views a video, the host will check which browser they are using, check if they are on mobile or desktop, and serve the appropriate content to them.

Recommendations

There are several options available when looking for a third-party host. The right one for you will depend on your needs and budget. At the higher end of the budget scale there are services like Brightcove, which offers features like live streaming, customizable video players, and detailed analytics. If you’re looking for a free solution, look no further than YouTube. The downside of YouTube is that it’s an ad-supported service. Vimeo offers services that are in between those other two options.

The right provider will depend on your goals, but leveraging one will increase your productivity, reduce risk and complexity, and provide a better overall experience for your audience. In the end, that’s what it’s all about: successful engagement with your audience.