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I am developing a website for a new dance club. I am trying to decide if my idea for using a background video homepage would be acceptable from a UX standpoint. I know that videos are not generally ideal because of the potentially slow load time and lack of user control, but think there are some big benefits to having the video as well.

I would like the video (which has no sound) to auto-play as a background. I have a separate music file that is meant to go along with the video. The sound file will only play when unmuted. I would like to put a play/pause button and a mute/unmute button in the lower right hand corner with some sort of tool tip to highlight the feature. Both the video and audio will automatically loop. On mobile, I plan to replace the video with an image.

Here are the benefits I see with the video: The video showcases current members dancing, chatting, and taking dance lessons. Visitors can get a sense of the dance atmosphere(the venue, cool lighting, informal attire), types of people who come to dance(various ethnicities and wide array of ages), the style of dance, and community(friendship and socialization between dancers). I think the video does a good job of making the club look fun and exciting to be a part of.

  • I think this is only good when only small parts of the video are moving. I wouldn't like it if the cideo is filmed directly in the crowd because then there will be rapid movement all over screen. Using slow motions like a slowly spinning disco ball (with visible reflections) or people dancing in far distance would look really cool. Of course it wouln't look "wild" if thats what you want to show – BlueWizard Dec 12 '15 at 21:20
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My suggestions :

1) Video backgrounds make a website seem more lively and interactive to a user, but they are not very easy to pull off.

2) Figure out the demographics of your target audience. If it aims to target users coming from a developing world, do know that they have lower than average internet speeds, and the experience will be jarring to them.

3) Keep the video clip small. 10-15 seconds tops with looping.

Pro-tip : Load a low res video, stretch it to fill complete screen and blur it using css. This has three advantages : you pack in less bytes, and the blur effect provides for a less distracting background, and there is no visible pixellation.

4) Make sure the there is enough contrast between text and background at all times.

Pro-tip Apply a overlay color to the video, and make the text white.

5) DO NOT use audio on the homepage. If there's anything more jarring than moving pictures without sound, its a video clip that stops every second to buffer. Very bad UX in my opinion.

6) Since the video serves as a background, avoid capturing too much detail, or framing lots of people and sudden movement. The more diffused it is, the better. It can still convey motion without seeming like you're trying too hard to get user's attention.

7) Also remember that the homepage background is not the right place to showcase your product, or tell a narrative. Rather, make it a separate embed. Take a look at site I created, and a few popular sites that do it.

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This is a question that has been made many times, so you can do a search for more detailed answers.

However, you ask for a very specific question in your title:

Acceptable use of a homepage background video?

well... the easy answer is: Frankly, there aren't acceptable uses, or at least we should define "Acceptable"

See, you mention a lot of good points. Now, think that ALL of them could be added in a regular video, with an immersive experience, sound, quality, focal point, etc. Without the drawbacks.

If you consider this important, then why do you want to use it as a non-important element? If this is THAT important (and based on your description, it seems to be the case), why would you want to hide it and on top provide a bad user experience?

Personally, I'd go with a static image and use the video with all the people, attire, music and such to actually mean something.

However, I see like you're kinda convinced this is the right path so, in this case, the only thing I could say is... test and see how it goes

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It seems to be a good decision for your site. The suggestions of user3210476 are great, some additions:

  • Keep in mind that the background video shouldn't 'pop out', don't make it too bright and saturated.

  • Instead of an mute/unmute button you could also have a popout button, which would show the video in it's original aspect ratio while this page behind is dimmed.

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