One question I often get sent is how do I get my videos on my website?
Most people have heard of YouTube these days, and I think it’s a great place to put a video that shows on the front page of your website or any of your public pages.
Using YouTube for Online Video
YouTube has a few advantages depending on what you are wanting to achieve.
- It’s a source of traffic to your website as YouTube videos can be listed on google (and other search engines) as well as YouTube.
- It’s very easy to embed a video or give to your web person to set up for you by just sending a link and they can just add the content.
There are some limitations of using YouTube to host your videos:
- There is a restriction on the length of your video (maximum 10 minutes) so is not suitable for longer videos.
- Its not a good idea to use it for videos that you want kept as private or paid access only, as they can be found publicly and listed in search results.
One recent change is that you can hide your videos from public listing on YouTube now which is suitable for shorter private videos, but that doesn’t get around the time limit issue.
Can I host my videos directly on my website?
It’s possible to do this but you you need to be aware of these technical aspects:
- Video format: When you create your video, it is likely to be in a format like wmv, avi or mov. These formats are not compatible with all computers and devices who may want to view it on the web. If uploading somewhere like YouTube, it will be automatically converted. However, for self hosted videos, you need to use software to convert it yourself before uploading to your website or server.
- Hosting: It depends on your host and how many visitors will watch them at the one time. If more than a few, it may not play effectively. These days people expect your video to stream as they watch them, so this needs to be supported by the server that they are hosted on. A great place to host your video instead is AmazonS3 which is cheap hosting for video and can handle any amount or traffic or people watching your video, as it expands based on need.
- Player: After hosting, the second component you need to host videos on your website is a way to play them. This is in the form of a ‘player’, which is a piece of code that takes the video and shows it on the screen in combination with the play buttons etc. An analogy is that the video file is the DVD, but the player is like the DVD player, so the file is no good without the player.
- Compatibility:Until more recently, the most widely used video type has been flash. flash plays on most computers running modern browsers. Although you do need to have downloaded the adobe flash player at some stage for it to work. most computers will have this though just from browsing the internet or watching any kind of videos online as you will be prompted to download it.With the more recent rise in use of apple products like the iphone and ipad, flash video does not play on these (as apple decided not to support flash).
How do we play video suitable for Iphone/Ipad?
Fortunately more updated technologies are becoming available, and its much better to use a video format called mp4 (or mpeg4) in combination with a type of player called HTML5 player. This is now the most widely used player that can play on all computers (except a computer running only older versions of internet explorer) and also iphones/ipads.
However with this, some of the player technologies available for your website are slow to catch up with the new technology.
My recommendation for the easiest way to get longer videos online, is to use a service called EZS3. EZS3 allows you to connect to your files hosted on amazon S3 and easily create the flash or HTML5 players, giving you the code to add to your website, similarly to how you get the code off YouTube.
If some of this has gone over your head, don’t worry. Here are the 2 things to remember to get your videos online:
1. For shorter videos to display in the public area of your website, host them on YouTube for ease, compatibility, and benefits of potential additional traffic.
2. For longer videos that you want to be kept private (eg for paid access), use the EZS3 service connected to an Amazon S3 account for a low monthly fee, for better streaming, compatibility and security.