Multimedia is a way to make your Web pages more active and fun. But if you're not careful, you can drive away your customers. Before you add any multimedia, be it sound, video or animation, you should ask yourself how this is going to benefit your customers.
The sites that use multimedia the best are the ones that use it to solve a problem for their customers or are sites about a multimedia element (sound, video, or animation). Using gratuitous videos and sounds may get your readers' attention initially, but it quickly becomes overwhelming.
Before you put multimedia on your site, consider these five things:
Don't Auto-Play Any Multimedia
This can't be said too many times. Don't auto-play multimedia. Your customers may be visiting at work, and music or video instantly tells their boss and co-workers "I'm not working right now." Nothing will lose you customers quicker than if you get them fired.
And even if they aren't at work, sounds that are pleasant to you might be jarring to someone else. And they may already have music playing that your multimedia ruins.
Don't Limit Multimedia to One OS
The first time I built a video for playback on a website, I built it on my Mac, and it played great for me. But when my brother (Linux) and my mom (Windows) tried to view it, they couldn't. Ironically, even my father-in-law (Macintosh) couldn't view it because he had an older version of Quicktime. I quickly learned that videos were not platform independent.
Be sure to test your video playback on as many operating systems and browsers as possible. And remember that people may be viewing your videos on a smart phone or other smaller device as well as a computer.
Create Accessible Multimedia
Multimedia doesn't have to be inacessible. You can create closed-captions for videos and animation. You can also provide transcripts of audio and video files. Creating these options will help people who have hearing or vision problems as well as people who simply can't download the videos or sound because of bandwidth or speed limitations.
Multimedia Takes Up A Lot of Space and Bandwidth
When you're planning to create a multimedia site, you need to plan for more space than a traditional website. Video files are larger than image files and the bandwidth required to transfer them can be significant as well. Make sure that you have bought enough space and bandwidth from your hosting provider.
Online Services Are Good for Hosting Video
Services like YouTube and Vimeo are great for posting your videos and you can use them to embed your videos in your Web pages. This helps you avoid bandwidth and space issues, but also makes your videos easier for most people to use. Just be sure you understand the terms and conditions for any video sharing site you might use.