You see it more and more these days: You arrive at a website to be greeted by a full screen website background video. It grabs your attention. And it looks impressive.
It’s become a popular trend in web design over the past few years. It feels contemporary, and responds to audience’s increasing appetite to consume video online. And because web video, when done, right, can be more engaging than static text, it gives you a powerful tool to deal with the challenge of audience’s decreasing attention span.
So should you have one on your website? It really depends on a few key factors. Which is what we’ll explore together in this blog post.
What’s the first thing people want to know when they come to your website? What are they looking for in the first 2 or 3 seconds of arriving? Confirmation that they’re in the right place, of course. If not, then one click and they’re gone. So it’s important that there’s a strong correlation between your visitor’s expectations, the search terms they entered into google, and what they’re presented with. All of the elements of the website, from the layout, choice of colours, branding, images etc should reinforce this notion of congruency. So, if website visitors are presented with a full page video background, it’s vital that this video is congruent with their expectations: Your products and services should be reflected in the video. The tone and style of the video needs to capture the personality of your business.
Style of video
The style of your home page website background video is different to other types of videos like promotional or sales videos. Those sort of videos will usually follow a story structure, run for 1-3 minutes, rely on audio, and build evidence to persuade viewers to take a particular action.
Website background video is different: They’re normally much shorter. Around ten seconds. They don’t tell a story. They set a tone and feel. They’re there to grab attention, and give visitors a taste of the style and approach of your business.
So it’s not just a matter of inserting the video that you already have into your home page. The chances are that the video you already have relies on audio, is too long, an demands too much sustained attention from your website visitor. Your home page video background needs to be purpose-built.
Here’s a home page website background video we created for Timeless Legal. It gives visitors to the website an experience of what it will be like to use their service:
Understanding the purpose of your website video background
Once you’ve signalled to your audience that they’re in the right place, the next challenge is to win their continued attention. In journalism the job of the newspaper headline is to win the reader’s attention to continue to the first paragraph. The job of the first paragraph is to sell the second paragraph. And so on… In the same way, the purpose of the website video background is to win the attention of your visitor so they’ll scroll down and continue to engage with your content.
You don’t need to tell a story. And you don’t need to convince them of anything…other than to simply continue engaging with your website. If you’re a service provider, give your audience an example of what it will be like to engage with your team. If you sell products, show what it’s like to use your products.
The most important thing is to enhance or clarify what your business does. Avoid using generic stock footage or images. Avoid using content that looks ‘nice’ but doesn’t really enhance the understanding of what makes you unique. Use content that helps to demonstrate your professionalism and expertise, and build trust and credibility.
Potential downsides of using website video backgrounds
The time it takes for your website to load has an impact on engagement. As a rule of thumb, the longer it takes for your video to load, the more chance there is that a visitor won’t stick around. And a website that’s slow to load can be penalised by Google in it’s search rankings. So it’s important to make sure that the file size of your video is not too large. So it doesn’t slow down your website.
If the video is not immediately engaging you could immediately lose your visitors.
The other risk is that the video could be so engaging that it overpowers the other content on the home page. So it’s important that the video neatly integrates with the rest of the site. And that the visual flow of the home page naturally leads your visitors down the page to engage with more content.
How to make your home page website video background a success:
– Carefully and purposefully conceived
– Keep it short
– Don’t rely on sound
– Grab attention
– Be congruent with the personality of your business
– Be relevant with the types of products or services you offer
– Give a deeper insight into your business
– Be properly integrated into the overall design of the home page
– Naturally lead visitors to engage with content lower down on the page
Ryan Spanger is one of Melbourne’s most respected and sought-after video production professionals. Ryan founded Dream Engine in 2001, and specializes in helping medium to large corporates, government departments, and the non-proﬁt sector to connect with their audience by using video.