Video — A Usability Option
We all like to think other people use a website the same way we do; however, this simply isn’t true. Some people only scan or search sites, some dig deep into sections while others do both—everyone uses a site differently. These interactions are also affected by how usable your site is. People often think usability comes down to one thing—how easy your website is to navigate. But an often-overlooked aspect revolves around how easy it is for users to consume, interact or appreciate what you have to offer.
You might think video is an easy way to make your site more usable, especially since it has become increasingly easy to include on the web. But just putting video up on your site doesn’t automatically make it better or easier to use.
It’s About Options
The driving factor of including video on your site should be to make your content more accessible and enriching to site visitors, not what other sites are doing. If your videos are of poor quality, it will be just as big of a detriment as having messy navigation. In addition, a lengthy video is just as ineffective as having too much copy. People will quickly tune out if they feel their time is being wasted, so it’s important to keep videos and related content useful, effective and concise.
I find it refreshing when I visit a website that offers multiple ways of interacting with the content. If I can watch a short video or quickly scan a list of specs to easily make the choice of what to do next, I can decide which I have time for and get the experience I need at that specific moment.
Giving users content options has just as much to do with the environment they are in, their time availability and the type of content as it has to do with their behavior patterns and learning behaviors.
Learn by Watching vs. Learn by Reading
Unless you have a niche website, your visitors are likely to be from all walks of life and locations—viewing from home, libraries, offices and on the go. And just as peoples’ computers are different, so are their learning styles—some people like to watch to get the idea, whereas others want to read carefully before jumping into things.
Your site might have the best video that perfectly depicts what you offer, but if a visitor is working in a crowded office without headphones and doesn’t want to fire up a video that will make co-workers snub them for watching at work, having equally effective written content is just as useful. Bandwidth for on the go users could lead to a choppy mobile experience with just video.
Conversely, by watching a quick video, users may be able to quickly jump to taking the next step to buy, subscribe or join when they might not otherwise take while visiting your site.
More Than Just Cover Your SEO Bases
The SEO improvements of having video from YouTube or Vimeo included on your site are obvious, but the benefits go beyond simple searches on the greater web. Technology keeps changing the way users are able to customize the Internet to work for them, which may lead to your content being found on other networks than your own site. Many people now skip leveraging search engines to find pertinent content and instead go straight to the likes of YouTube and Facebook to find what they need.
For example while recently deciding whether I should jailbreak an older iPhone, a friend suggested I directly search YouTube for video tutorials instead of the broader Internet for how-to information. Likewise, content tends to get posted on Facebook faster than it takes you to update your site. For the user that lives on Facebook, having a short paragraph and video that can be easily shared is a great way to ensure multiple audiences can quickly access your content.
Conclusion and Best Practices
People learn and consume information differently and in more ways than ever before. While you don’t need to double down on content entirely, making content effective for more audiences will only help engage your users. Augmenting the experience to fill gaps should be the goal. With the ease of including a YouTube or Vimeo link on your site, you can use video to engage users and successfully deliver the content they seek.
Best practices should include:
- Keep it simple. Your video doesn’t have to be high production to be effective, but it should inform the user quickly and efficiently.
- Keep it short. A one to two-minute video should be sufficient. If your video is longer, consider breaking it up into segments.
- Keep it relevant. Accompany your videos with related textual content so people who can’t interact with a video immediately can still obtain relevant information.