Recently there's been a rapid increase in the number of mobile video apps that limit their recording length. These are some popular examples:

What is the user experience rationale for enforcing extremely short videos? Why are nearly all video apps chasing this trend as opposed to the traditional limitless video length of Youtube?

  • I'd say that it's to ensure that the whole video can be uploaded on a potentially unreliable connection - but that'd just be a guess.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 22:43
  • 1
    The UX argument is: Have you ever sat through your uncle's videos of his trip to Branson?
    – DA01
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 23:45

3 Answers 3


This isn't designed for the capture UX but for the view UX. It also goes towards a "business model".

Capture, Things happen quickly in the world and having a mobile device around that can capture video has revolutionized not only how video is captured and delivered to the masses but impacted time. Capturing a small snippet of video only tells a real quick story. From a technical standpoint because the file size is smaller it's faster to send up to a central location. These services are all about speed and how fast something can be captured and shared.

Viewing, People due to the speed of devices and wanting almost instant gratification don't want to sit through a 5 minute video only to find the one real good nugget at 4:55. You see this on YouTube videos where someone will post to jump to X time. Again, it goes back to speed and users want to get to the good part now.

From a UX standpoint. There is no force that they should be short. It's more of working with expectations on how fast I can allow you to capture and then share.


Essentially, these app developers are trying to create a new creative medium for their users, and they know that creativity thrives within limitations. Anyone can convey a message if they have all day, but it takes artistry to communicate succinctly. Ever tried to paint a world in someone's head with just one haiku? Artists thrive on challenges like this! It's also more fun that way... and fun is the experience these developers want to create.

Here's a relevant wired article on why constraints encourage good design, and a wikipedia stub that mentions Stravinsky's methods in this area.

Here's what Shakespeare has to say on the subject:

My liege, and madam, to expostulate

What majesty should be, what duty is,

What day is day, night night, and time is time,

Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,

And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,

I will be brief.

(sorry, I couldn't resist... emphasis mine, obviously)

Bonus: it's easier to be a vine content consumer if you know each video will only take a six second commitment of your time.


Actually the reason is purely psychological. When you put the limit on the length of the video you make it really easy to make bad quality videos. Of course, everyone can make a bad quality video on YouTube, but then it would compete against many good quality ones, and the user would feel pressure against uploading it. If all videos are short and simple, it's much easier to create and share one.

Thus, Vine vs YouTube is like Twitter vs LiveJournal. On LiveJournal there are thousands of great authors who write literate and beautiful and thoughtful posts. But this sets a very high barrier for new participants. After all, not everyone's writings are inspiring and thoughtful. Twitter came to the rescue: nobody can be bad on Twitter because nobody can be good either (ok, there are exceptions of course, but wait until MiniTwitter comes in with only 12 letters per message :). With Vine it's the same: shoot a short clip, then upload. No need to worry about post-processing, sound tracks, special effects, embedded cross-links, and such.

That was the production side. But there is also the consumption side (mentioned in other posts and comments).

Short videos are easier for your friends to watch, and thus can be done quicker -- for example the moment you share it, -- not some time later in the evening or maybe never, as would be with YouTube videos. The file size argument is actually much less important -- today's connection speeds allow me to upload a 10-min clip in just a couple of minutes, and even do that in background if I want to.

TL;DR: Vine is like video-Twitter.

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