Web users are consuming media more than ever before. Videos (both short 6-second types and full-length options) and images (including gifs and infographics) are now everywhere, and are as important as text based content; in many industries they are more important than text. It is no surprise that more people are exploring their options for creating more interactive, engaging websites that are not just content heavy, but media heavy too.
With that context in mind this article highlights important points you should keep at the forefront of your mind when setting up and running a media heavy website.
Even when a site is predominantly text based, user experience is a vital factor. Users should be able to find what they are looking for and derive a sense of assurance and peace from their content consumption; they need to feel at home!
This is even more the case with media heavy websites. Content should be arranged properly, navigation should be straightforward and all forms of clutter should be stripped away. Avoid anything confusing and follow the age old maxim, KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid).
Get a sufficient web hosting package
“A media heavy website naturally takes up plenty of CPU, Disk Space and RAM; especially if you are self-hosting the media content rather than displaying it from a third party site” says Brendan at https://www.umbrellar.nz/. “You need to ensure that you go a fair way above the entry level hosting plans. In the early days of your site, you may get away with shared hosting, but, as time goes by and visitors start to flow in, you will need to upgrade to a VPS hosting plan or a dedicated server.”
The key is making sure that your hosting plan matches your site, taking into consideration both your file hosting requirements and traffic. This is the foundation of a successful website, as your visitors won’t stick around if they are served a subpar experience as a result of inadequate web hosting.
It’s also important to think about web hosting scalability. If your site enjoys massive growth you want it to be exciting, not a logistical headache.
Running the website
Managing Images (pictures, gifs, infographics)
Name your images properly
It is often tempting to use generic names, or default camera names for your images, but this is the wrong way to go. Well thought out keyword rich file names add a greenlight for SEO rankings, and can thus help increase your user base. Additionally, this practice highlights professionalism and makes it easy for users to find specific content.
Avoid large image sizes
What does that tell you?
You should use image sizes that don’t hamper the performance of your website. A good tip is to open your images in Adobe Photoshop and use the “Save for web” option. The image quality can remain top notch while the size of the file is dramatically reduced.
How large is too large? As a rule anything north of 100kb should be avoided.
Use the right image formats
JPEG format provides the best quality for everyday images, so media heavy websites use it a lot. The format also provides the smallest file size. Avoid using GIF format for large images. The file size turns out to be very large in general. Where PNG format is the only option, use PNG-8 over PNG-24.
Don’t jump on the CDN bandwagon too quickly
Content Delivery Networks are very popular, and for good reason. They can help you improve page load speed and solve bandwidth issues. However, your backlink profile may suffer when you use CDN for your images. When your images are hosted on a CDN, any links to the image are actually to the CDN. So until you start seeing thousands of visitors a day, this trade-off in using CDNs is not always worth it.
Optimise your videos
As with images, videos need to be optimised if you are to deliver a quality experience to your target audience. When poorly optimised, videos will not stream quickly and they will be more likely to buffer even with a high quality internet connection. There are many applications that can optimise your videos and rearrange the video file settings to create a better playback experience. Use them.
Host your videos in the correct way
Irrespective of your webhosting plan, it is sometimes unsustainable to host thousands of videos directly on your server. They will take massive server resources and you will quickly fill the largest dedicated server. If you can afford to take on several servers and really boost your processing and storage capacity you can, but it’s much more efficient to use one of the services that host millions of videos on their servers already. They have the resources to take your videos so why not leverage on them? YouTube, Vimeo and DailyMotion are the main options but there are others.
Host your videos on these sites and then embed the videos on your site. It is more sustainable. The default video player buttons and frames on these sites may look out of place on your site, but this can easily be remedied by your web developer.
Keep your videos short to make them shareable
The most shared videos on the web in 2012 were just over 4 minutes long on average. This means you need to keep even your most comprehensive videos within this range. However, in a time when Vine and Twitter videos have made 6-second videos and 30-second videos hugely popular, you will be doing your site’s discoverability a disservice if you only have 4 minute length videos. Mix it up and make the length appropriate.
Hopefully, this article has given you some new things to think about as you build your media heavy website. We’d love to hear what you think of the article, and about more strategic concerns that you think need to be considered.