Including Video on Your Website
Nov 9, 2009 12:00 PM, By Don Kreski
A high-end web designer shares his thoughts on where the Web is going.
The popularity of YouTube has been a bit of a shock to many videographers, who have worked hard throughout their careers to uphold the highest production values. But perhaps it just indicates what's really important in visual media, suggests Gary Ricke, founder and owner of Orbis Web Design, which creates higher-end Adobe Flash and database-driven websites for mid- to large-sized organizations.
"One of my customers suggested that the lower production values that are acceptable on YouTube do not change the need for a good idea and a good story," Ricke says. "'You can use a cheap camera,' he said, 'but if what you're saying is a bunch of junk, then it's going to come off as a bunch of junk, whereas a well-thought-out story will work.'"
Ricke says there's still a need for high-quality images and sound on a corporate website, though there's a place for YouTube-quality work as well. Either way, the story you have to tell is fundamental, although the way you tell it is changing with the changing technology of the Web.
The Web as a multimedia format
Ricke says that most websites today function a lot like printed brochures or catalogs. You have a certain amount of text and a photo or two, and hopefully everything is well-written and well-designed. Sites like this are less expensive to produce and may offer much more detail than printed materials, but the basic model is print.
As you start to add video or animations to your site, however, the possibilities open up. "We have one client, the Falkor Group, [that] offers IT consulting and services. Some of [its] competitors are doing really heavy animations to explain what they do," Ricke says. "Consulting services can be hard to digest in text form; you need pages and pages of content. Our idea was to hire a really sharp actor and create a really well-written script so we could get our points across quickly and visually." You can see the result at www.falkorgroup.com, and it's worth taking a look.
If you go to the Falkor home page, you'll see an actor walk onto the screen and ask if this is the first time you've visited the website. If it is, he'll tell you a little about the company, then a panel drops down with four options for other pages you can visit to learn more. The programmers at Orbis included code that can tell if it is your first visit or not. If it isn't, the site skips the speech and moves you directly into the menu options.
"A web experience is not a single-page experience," Ricke says. "As people go through a site, they hit this page and go to this page and then this page, and it's the combination of those pages that will tell the story. When we created the Falkor site, we tried to anticipate how people would move through the pages, but we also built code to track where they were actually coming from. In a future phase, some pages may have as many as three different videos, and what the actor says will depend on what the viewer has already seen and heard."
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