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I have just been in a meeting to discuss our company's new website. There was a lot of support for video being included on the home page. The video would include key messages and client's saying how good we are etc. the feeling around the room was that this would be the best way to communicate these messages with the visitors to the site.

I suggested that this was not a good idea but struggled to come up with any concrete reasons other than it could slow the page load down. My gut feel is that it is wrong to do this and will make the content harder to consume, but I could be wrong.

Are there any reasons why video should not be added to the home page?

We are a small business that offer bespoke eLearning services, the site is to generate leads and promote the business etc.

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8 Answers 8

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Some hard reasons against videos:

  • Videos require sound. This is not appropriate - or even feasible - in some scenarios.
  • Videos take over control. I can't reliably skip a paragraph, read thoroughly or across - it's your pacing, not mine
  • Videos usually offer no navigation. The goal of your home page should be for visitors to quickly find what they are looking for

In sum, videos have a higher acceptance barrier. That is a significant problem for casual traffic, or when users compare different offers they found through a search engine.


This doesn't speak against a well-made animation . The main problem with the "central video" is the expectation that visitors come to your site to learn just how good you are:

Scenario: I have to come up with a suggestion for "some inhouse e-larning". I have allocated 2 hours, and would rather go home right now. Inhouse IT could develop it, we could get an intern, or we look for a 3rd party. To get some idea about the 3rd party market, I google "e-learning".

After five refinements of the search term I have 17 home pages. One of them says

"Do you need e-learning? We have the solution. Click here for examples of our work".

The other has a five minute video starting with a guy saying "Hello, this is Tyler Durden, CEO of company name."

Where do you think I spend five minutes?


Never expect the full attention of the visitor. Never expect the problem you solve is the problem your visitor has. Consider what message you got across in the first 30 seconds.

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Good recap of "hard reasons"--particularly loss of control. –  Ray Mitchell May 9 '11 at 15:28
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It's not a scientific reason by any means, but the reason I always give when presented with this is that users absolutely hate that sort of thing. Not as much as they hate a splash screen before they are taken to the real site, but it is a close second.

Unfortunately, I don't have a link to a specific study on this, but my testing has always shown that users prefer easy, scanable content on the home page of a site. If they can't scan those key messages quickly, they are just going to leave the site and go somewhere else. And you can't scan points made in a video quickly.

There is also the problem with search engine optimization of your home page, but if you do it right, you can still achieve that with a video as your content. However, companies rarely do so, which is why it becomes a problem.

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+1 for splash. That's totally useless. –  ern0 May 6 '11 at 13:53
    
Hate it, want scannable, give up and leave. Everything I came here to say. +1 –  gef05 May 6 '11 at 17:00
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Video is an "elephant in the china store". When I go to a company web site's main page I expect:

  • navigation bar on the top or left side,
  • search box in the header, mostly on the right side,
  • a short description of the company, what the heck they are (e.g. is it an ATL agency or a bike shop or whatsoever?),
  • some bullshit (story of the company),
  • title and head text of some news-like things,
  • a bigger logo than usual,
  • links for different types of visitors (customer, partner, job hunter etc.),
  • registration box for newsletter,
  • flagship product photo and link (learn more about our product).

I will be suprised and confused, if there is:

  • a product item with "add to cart",
  • too much text,
  • video.

Video should be put on the "about us" page. Don't forget, visitors are looking for something, and it's pretty rare case, that they are looking for videos with smiling CEOs saying nothing while boring music is playing. I think, it's needless to say: never use video players' auto start function.

The main function of a company site's frontpage is to provide quick selector to go to a specific page. Video doesn't helps it.

EDIT: if your site is well structured (SEO-ed), the landing page (which the visitor sees first) will be other page than front page. Don't think, that you should put everything on your frontpage, just because it will be the most visited page: no, your "free gift" page will be the most visited.

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+1 for well-structured comment. Nowadays there is less reason for the homepage to be particularly prominent as we should be identifying what people are searching for and sending them to the correct area of the site directly, not to the homepage by default. Homepages are for Marketing and CEO's, the landing pages and content pages are for the actual users. –  JonW May 6 '11 at 14:27
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I'll be a contrarian. If used properly, there is a place for video on the front page. I do not mean a flashy flash logo with blinking lights dancing around the page, or even worse a self-playing abomination as a landing page.

Think of the user experience of one of your likely visitors: "I know we want a e-learning solution, but I know nothing about this "small business that offer(s) bespoke eLearning services". If only there was a way that I could see they aren't talking about vaporware."

A short, well produced video (30-45 seconds) has the ability to display the product in use, showcase typical users and help generate enough interest to cause a prospective customer to read the about page. If you want to add testimonials you can do that on an "Our Customer" page. Front page video should entice the viewer to want to learn more.

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on newspaper homepages I've seen video used and that's fine . the video is serving as a kind of proxy for a story....but this is about the only example I can think where video is appropriate for a HP –  colmcq May 11 '11 at 13:14
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To an anonymous visitor, watching a video is much more intruding than scanning a nicely formatted wall of a text. Unlike with screenshots, you can't really tell if a video is going to be enjoyable without actually playing it. As a result, clicking that play button is pretty expensive, psychologically.

One way to get over this hurdle is to automatically play the video, but have it muted. Steam uses this for their store pages. That way the video is still eye-catching and interesting, but it's no longer intruding. On the downside, viewers can decide to unmute it at any point (so you can't control the flow as well), and you'll waste a lot of bandwidth, theirs and yours.

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no to video

the vast vast vast majority of your users will be scanning for triggers or signposts; they will not be prepared to stop, sit down, and watch a video.

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You may find the IKEA website inspirational. They use plenty of video with it seamlessly blended in to the design rather than stuck in a 16 x 9 box.

Car manufacturers are doing similar for their sites, not that I can cite an example right now without Google searching.

Both IKEA and as mentioned Steam have thought this out so video is not a strict no-no.

If going video route then you should be interrogating the browser to make sure it is capable - develop for the mobile, put some javascript to detect a PC/Mac and then have a redirect to the content-heavy video version.

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I wish i had enough rep to comment on someone else's answer >.>;;

Having a video is a very nice thing, so to not take that away, I would suggest a relatively flashy link that invited the user to watch your video. The homepage should have text information about your software, but after the brief introduction it should link to the various pieces of information a person would be interested in, and the video would be a nice casual way for someone (with some space time) to lazily absorb what your company and software is all about.

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There is some rep for ya! ;) –  jonshariat May 13 '11 at 0:05
    
Why thank you sir. Getting started on stack exchange is pretty rough with so little privileges =P. –  Jason McCarrell May 16 '11 at 13:07
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