Background Videos On Web Pages

Posted By Debbie on April 20, 2015

A friend recently asked me what I thought of background videos on websites. I often think they are distracting. I think of the PayPal website. It used to have a background video of a woman using a smartphone. What did that tell me? How did that enhance my experience? Could it be a distraction from the real messages on the page? But it’s already gone, replaced by a static stock image.

My friend sent me to look at a website of a company I’d never heard of. Their “who are we” page had a background video. The amazing thing was that I still didn’t know what they do. The video could have been real people who work there and really their office… or it could be stock images or actors. I have no idea.

The video is vanilla. It’s just people walking around, looking at devices, being pretty pleased, and agreeing with each other. But what does that tell me about the company? And since my brain wants to look at the movie (and not read words), is it a distraction? Or does it enhance the experience?

Let’s Watch It

I Camtasia’ed a video on a webpage. I have no idea who this company is. They might be the best company in the world at what they do. I don’t know. But before they take this off their site, I wanted to share it so we can ask ourselves some important UX, branding, attention span, and other questions.

You’ll also see when I start paging down, the “dynamic elements” that pop up as you scroll don’t pop up. Why? I was hitting page down instead of smoothly scrolling. Not everybody smoothly scrolls.

Video has no sound, so don’t turn your volume up. And YouTube picked that still as the pre-play image.

What’s The Point?

What’s the point of having that video there? I kept waiting for it to tell me something about the company. This is the Who We Are/What We Do page, and I’m not sure what they do. They make information available to you quickly and you can make dashboards. I didn’t know I wasn’t getting information fast enough and in too few dashboards. With the cloud and SaaS and so many apps, what info am I having a problem accessing? How will using whatever you are change my day or processes? I get the feeling this site is for people who already know they want this company.

Videos are “in style” right now, but we’re already watching sites take them OFF their pages. Square and others have already taken the parallax off their long scroll pages.

Visual design styles change once or twice a year. If you chase trends, make sure you have time and money budgeted to redo the visuals when the style changes again. Last year, you rushed to build a parallax page with background videos. This year, you’ll budget to undo those and replace them.

Bonus: Tell Me Something Meaningful

It might have gone by quickly in the video, but the page has the following description of their product:

… organization-wide platform capable of aligning your company, its conversations, and its actions around business objectives that deliver real business results. And it transforms the way you manage business.

Ptype is a UX agency capable of aligning your company, its conversations, and its actions around business objectives that deliver real business results. And we transform the way you’ll manage your business.

Could every SaaS, enterprise tool, or consultancy say that about themselves? Copy like this doesn’t really sell me on what you do, how you are different, and where you will change my work life. You might also choose words that are more compelling than “capable.” And why start a sentence with and? 🙂