Online video

Many government websites now include videos. They are attractive because they are easy to use and have an established audience. Users can either link to their video on a third party site or use an embedded video player on their own website.

Why should I?

Adding video content to a site increases its visual appeal and attractiveness to the user. You need to balance the benefits of using online video against the disadvantages inherent in its service conditions. The content, its distribution strategy and the proposed audience will all have a bearing on the decision.

What should I do?

Users’ expectations of online video are becoming increasingly complex. Video provided online should aim to be:

  • Playable on a wide range of devices
  • Controllable with easy-to-use pause/play/stop/rewind/mute buttons
  • Accessible through transcripts/captions or other alternative formats
  • Discoverable by internal and external video search services
  • Watchable in full-screen modes

Additionally, sophisticated users often expect online video to be:

  • Shareable, typically with permanent, easily shared URLs
  • Embeddable in third-party websites

Licencing, bandwidth and copyright issues will need to be considered before these additional functions are made available.

Agency video publishers should also aim to create video that is:

  • Citeable as an official government publication or announcement
  • Archiveable to ensure longevity
  • Measureable through extensions to traditional web analytics tools

How do I?

While online videos are useful tools, there are a number of issues to consider. First, you need to determine the type of video to make, whether it be instructional or promotional. Then you need to understand the implications of either hosting the video within your own site or using a third party hosting service. With the latter, you need to review the licensing, terms of use, check the branding and trailers, other videos or links which might appear surrounding your video.

On the technical side, firstly decide whether to progressively download or live stream the video. Ensure the codec you use is widely available and consider what type of video player to use. For both agency- and third party-hosted video solutions you will need to consider accessibility. There are a number of applicable Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) Success Criteria at both Level A and AA to consider. Lastly, you need to ensure that you have sufficient reporting capabilities to provide meaningful analytics.

Last Reviewed: 2012-09-04