Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will agree that video on websites is here to stay. However, I’m one of 10% of people that would rather read information than watch a video. I can scan copy quickly and decide whether I care, while video requires that I commit time to watching it. Nothing irks me more than having to sit through many minutes of preamble before finding out whether there is any useful content.
But that’s immaterial, I’m in the minority and I know it. Video increases website conversion, engages your reader and adds a human touch to a website. It’s a great tool and high time I started familiarizing myself with it. A project to embed a video into a wordpress site presented itself with a great learning opportunity.
First things first. I’m not talking about embedding a YouTube video on your site. That’s quite straightforward and doable for anyone that can copy and paste. The main tip I can give there is to be sure to preserve the aspect ratio when you tweak the height and width parameters in the object code. So if you adjust your width to be 500 (rather than 680) to fit in your post, make sure you adjust the height by the same percentage .. this goes for images as well and avoids the distorted look. If that seems like work to you, there are a number of wordpress video plugins that make it even easier for you.
What I wanted to do is create a flash video, upload the file to my server and have it hosted and play on my site. The reason? It looks more professional and you avoid the distraction factor (such as the “watch more” presented at the end of a YouTube video). This takes a little more work.
Why Flash? Flash appears to be the most favored video format for the web due to it’s smaller footprint. There is a reason YouTube converts uploaded video to flash. When you are hosting your own video, you need to be mindful of the bandwidth and filesize. If you have a homepage with a lot of traffic, you may not want to have a video automatically playing, even if it is flash. If you have that lucky problem, consider hosting your video with a cloud service such as Amazon S3.
Using Camtasia I created a video that combined audio and screen capture and then produced it into the SWF format. That’s when my struggle began. The WordPress Upload/Insert video button did upload the SWF file into the Media Library but all that did was create a link to the video that played in a separate window, not exactly what I wanted. Always wondered what that button did, now I know.
Nevertheless, this reminded me that videos need players and I decided the best approach was to install one on my site. I started researching WordPress video player plugins. And surprise, there are TWO types of Flash formats, SWF and FLV. FLV was new to me. I found a number of Flash FLV plugins, but not much for SWF. I reproduced the video as FLV and installed the Flash Video Player.
One thing about FLV videos is that they start off with a blank screen rather than the first frame of your video. However what you can do is specify a preview image in the Flash Video Player properties (under settings). You will need to know the pathname to the JPG or GIF image that you want to use. That image will then show up with the play widget.
Kathy Alice Brown is a traffic and conversion expert specializing in SEO, Copywriting and Facebook Ad Campaigns. In her spare time she loves to get outside.