This was a really difficult page to implement. Lesson learned? Balance.
Video can be a very powerful design feature. We’re instantly drawn to it as it allows us to sit back and be instructed/informed/entertained. It is the opposite of reading. In short, we’re lazy creatures and would rather be shown than to arrive at an organic understanding.
On the other hand, the subject matter just simply lends itself to be seen. I could write many, many pages about jellyfish or octopuses but those words, no matter how many, would completely fail the impact of the graceful moves of a jellyfish or the other-worldly nature of the octopus. But I have to write for many reasons and, most importantly, my main job is to get the consumer to buy my goods. So I’ve corned myself. Do I write about it? Do I show it? Do I make a call to action? Do I try to do all three things at once?
I place most of my faith in the written word simply because it’s what I’m most familiar with (English Lit. guy here). And I can go overboard — the very grumpy editor who lives in my head tells me so. But, I also like bright, shiny, moving things since, well I don’t know why, but I do. But my task is to sell something.
I went through multiple iterations of this page. It is by no means finished and I may scrap it altogether for another design. A large part of web development is soul-crushing self-doubt, anxiety, and failure. Fun! In this case, though, I began to learn about balancing multiple functions simultaneously. Here are some things that I learned while creating the Inner Space Collection page:
LOOK AT ME!
Video backgrounds are seriously powerful. So much so that they can cease being a background and become the main focal point. The key here is to keep it relevant and illustrative to your main thesis. You’ll need to scour the available sources and probably alter the video’s brightness, contrast, etc — in other words, tone it down so that it’s a true background actor and not the star. Technically, it’s not too hard to pull this off. I strongly suggest using some video conversion software that can take existing video and make it web-friendlier. This also allows you to host it locally instead of depending on the whims of another’s site (i.e.: self-host, don’t embed or link),
- I use Divi, but most WP themes have the ability to use video as a background. Look for anything that offers a container for a background image and then poke around, it’s usually there.
- I use https://www.onlinevideoconverter.com/youtube-converter which makes it a snap to download video in both .mp4 and .webm formats. Place both in your media folder for use on your site.
- Videos will almost never play on mobile devices, so have a fall-back image that approximates the video. Even a still from it will work.
- Keep it short and small! I never use a video (unless it’s streaming) that’s more than :30 seconds or larger than 3Mb. You risk pissing people off when they are forced to stare at the spinny loading thing.
- Respect and honor copyrights and the artist’s intentions. They probably didn’t have you mind when creating their video and they certainly didn’t do it so you could profit off their backs.
Your written word needs an equally as compelling reason to occupy space as the video or it won’t be read. You can write effusively, and in-depth. Or you can create a juxtaposed headline — it’s a matter of style, but you will need to spend more time on your text than you think. Too much and people click away pretty damn quickly. Too little and we’re back to The Shiny Thing in the Background Problem all over again. My strategy is to make the text relevant, short and meaningful. Keep in mind that text on ecommerce serves three purposes:
- To get you indexed, categorized and noticed
- To distinguish yourself from other sites
- To begin larger communications with your audience (i.e.: make a sale). Which brings us to:
WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR FUNCTION?
Let’s get real, you’re creating a web page to sell something because you’re not going to win an award. I know this sounds obvious, but it should be at the core of your idea.
Try this: make a copy of your page and eliminate all design features: video, formatting, shiny things and all. Does the remaining written text compel you or anyone to buy what you’re selling? Does it explain what the thing is? What it does? What is your unique proposition? Clear? OK, NOW add things that only reinforce that core message.
cgk.ink develops, maintains and grows ecommerce sites for fashion, decor, design and other companies. I am attempting to create a site that both serves as a learning tool for business owners and other designers/developers. I truly welcome your comments below or by using my contact form.