All the digital trends of 2020 pointed to one thing: video. Video, video, video. And while the Vine Digital team doesn’t completely disagree with this trend, we believe that video has a time and a place. We’d suggest thinking twice before you slap that video on your homepage, as doing so will possibly cost you in the long run. Let’s talk about it.
Videos Are a Good Thing… Right?
The general consensus is that videos on homepages are a good thing. Common catch cries include:
“It showcases the product!”
“It adds interest to the page!”
“It tells our story!”
But let’s look at the facts.
While boosting engagement and attracting attention, videos generally have no impact on SEO results – nor do they boost conversions. In fact, they possibly reduce them.
It’s important to treat any page element hailed for its cure-all qualities with caution, and think about how it aligns with your goals.
It Slows Down Page Speed & Affects Rankings
The purpose of your homepage, for the most part, is to create a first impression for the user. It’s where you receive the most visitors, from both referrals and organic search. While you might think that a video is a great first impression to give these videos, the reality is often a blank screen as the video loads.
Is that video worth it, at the expense of the user’s page experience?
At full bleed, a 30-second video will quadruple the amount of data needed to load the page. That’s with a good WiFi connection. For users accessing your site via public WiFi, mobile data or a weak connection, a bandwidth-intensive video is problematic.
People make the decision to leave a site very quickly, and with the frustration of having to wait, it’s no surprise that after 3 seconds of load time 57% of online shoppers abandon their cart, 80% of which will never return.
This can all affect your search engine rankings especially considering Google’s upcoming algorithm change, which is expected to place more importance on page speed.
Sudden Movement Triggers Fight or Flight
There’s a concept in psychology called cognitive load.
Cognitive load refers to the degree of mental effort required to achieve a task.
Good user experience reduces the user’s cognitive load, and the user is able to easily complete their desired action without too much thought. That’s why users love simple and intuitive interfaces.
An autoplay video, for the most part, will increase cognitive load if placed on your homepage. Sudden movement and flashing images not only make it harder for the user to convert; it’s jarring, all as you try to locate relevant links and navigation.
Try this as an alternative: use slow-moving images instead. Sitting somewhere between static image and video, this gives the user a chance to see the main CTA before viewing less relevant information.
Your homepage is one of your main opportunities to encourage action, placing users in the conversion funnel. If we asked you what your company goal is, would it be to accrue video views? Probably not.
An autoplay video distracts the user from your main CTA; watching the video becomes the main action that the user takes. Rather than downloading that free PDF, filling in that lead gen form or going deeper into your website content, you’re encouraging the user to sit there and watch your video. A video adds an extra step to that funnel, as well as more mental effort for the user.
This in turn can increase bounce rate, reduce click throughs and make the user feel like they’re being sold to rather than engaged with, meaningfully.
Don’t bombard the user. Simplify the page.
Of Course, There Are Exceptions
Though we’ve made a case for not using autoplay videos on your homepage, as with everything there are exceptions. Sometimes, videos can be positive if used for:
- Social media
- Boosting engagement and conversation on specific inner pages of your website
- Giving your brand personality or emotional experience on your About Us section
- Media and film companies (or other industries where it’s essential)
When you put the same video on a product overview page deeper in your site, this makes a lot more sense. The user at this stage of the conversion funnel will have likely understood a bit more about your brand, and has shown an interest to learn more about your offering.
Think for Yourself!
There’s no hard and fast rule here – exercise caution and use your judgment. You know your business best, so ultimately it is your decision. There are certain situations that call for the use of an autoplay video, but for the most part, we don’t believe it’s necessary. But that’s our opinion (albeit backed by trial and error and years of experience in the field). If you’d like to have a chat about whether an autoplay video belongs on your homepage, give Vine Digital a call. We’d love to learn more about your business before we weigh in on whether it’s right for you.