Effective Design & Usability: Embedding Video

By in Web Design & Usability,

With the most recent major release of WordPress, version 3.6 (or “Oscar Peterson” for all you jazz fans) came one of the most long-awaited core features of the platform.  You can now upload and embed audio and video to your website in a variety of formats directly through the media uploader.  Before this update, you were forced to rely on a plugin or develop custom upload/embed functionality.   With the functionality being added to the core, you can expect support and continued feature rollout to be provided by the WordPress community.  For a non-technical user, this means counting on being able to add a video to your website, and it will “just go” without having to worry about how (or if) it will work. For website developers, it means there is a solid foundation to extend features with the new audio/video API and style the embedded media.  The embedded video will be output in HTML5 for browsers that support it, with a Flash fallback for those that don’t, so you can rest assured that most visitors will have a consistent user experience.

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To try out the new feature, make sure you have the latest version of WordPress installed.  On the post or page edit screen, click the ‘Add Media’ button above the text editor. Just like uploading images, you can click and drag the video file from your computer into the browser, or click ‘Select Files’ to browse.  The file should be .mp4 for the widest browser/operating system support.  (If you are an advanced user, you can include fallback file locations within the inserted shortcode, see the post on worpress.org for more details.)  If the video is large, it may take several minutes for the file to be uploaded.

If you want to resize your movie player to be smaller than the original dimensions, just change the attributes within the shortcode, making sure to keep the structure intact.

So, should you start uploading videos to your website, instead of embedding from a video streaming site like YouTube? Well, there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.  Uploading videos directly through WordPress means that the files live on the same server as your website, bypassing the need to use a third-party to host your videos.  However, because the file is served from the same location as your website, if you have a high traffic site with a lot of users viewing videos at the same time, you could eat up a lot of bandwidth.  If you host your site with Webolutions, we can keep an eye on bandwidth issues, and adjust allocated resources as necessary. If you’re using a sub-par hosting company, though, high bandwidth could result in a slow site or increased usage charges. Video streaming sites like YouTube are built for massive traffic, and embedding video from their site allows you to leverage their servers to send the video to the visitor’s browser.  The decision to upload directly through WordPress vs. embedding from a streaming video site will vary from website to website, and possibly even video to video, but there’s no doubt that WordPress has taken a huge step forward with this feature.  Have you been embedding video in your website?

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