Video backgrounds suck and should be banned from your website

“I just love those video backgrounds and we need them on our new website.” No, you don’t. “They are so engaging and set a friendly mood.” No, they don’t. “It’s an amazing new feature and it helps conversion.” No, it doesn’t. Besides that, the conversation is annoying me. Video backgrounds suck big time. Our good friend Karl Gilis of AGConsult said it perfectly: “Video backgrounds are the new sliders. They’re a distraction.” And just like sliders suck and should be banned from your website, so do video backgrounds.

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Why do you need that video background?

I dare to state that video backgrounds were invented by web agencies trying to convince customers of a particular design:

  • Hey, this will make you stand out!
  • Now this really sets a mood on your website, don’t you think?
  • Of course we can create that video for you at a mere x dollars extra
  • Video backgrounds will keep your visitors’ attention, so time on page goes up and that’s good for Google.

What!? You’re not maintaining that site for Google, but for your users. The second reason for video backgrounds is that we all have said at one point in time: well, that looks nice. We should have thought about it before saying that. Our customers have seen that video background as well and now they want it.

Video Backgrounds: you don't want one

This GIF file probably got your attention already, but background videos are worse, IMHO. I honestly can’t think of any additional benefit of that background video for your visitor.

Why video backgrounds suck

Think about it:

  • Video backgrounds increase loading time for a page (source: common sense).
  • They distract from the primary message/call-to-action on a page. Even if that button or whatever is bright orange and your design is monochrome, a video is distracting!
  • Video backgrounds usually use videos not hosted by you. But if it doesn’t load, you’ll get the blame anyway and your design will look like crap.
  • ‘Cover the entire screen with video and set white text on top of it as the homepage’ probably is a trend. Let’s all put an end to this trend.
  • Autoplay sucks, and how on earth would it be logical to have a start button for a background video!? A call-to-action for your background? C’mon!
  • Video backgrounds only might perhaps work on very specific landing pages in very specific niches, most of the times you’ll just hurt conversion #alwaysbetesting
  • The things that go for informative products videos do not apply to video backgrounds. It’s a different thing! Really! Sigh.
  • Why do you think successful sites on the web don’t use video backgrounds? Right!

Video backgrounds suck and should be banned from your website. Even with all the nice looking examples in this article: Dos and Don’ts for Using Background Videos on Your Website, I still think the don’ts outweigh the dos. And that post is two years old. How come we haven’t put an end to that trend yet?

And what about mobile data plans and such?

Yes! Now that we have established that you just don’t need that video background for any reason, think about how much data you will have left at the end of this month! You’ll be able to watch another episode of The Ranch while commuting.

No, seriously. On your mobile website, that video background simply makes even less sense. We talked about mobile UX in this post, and video backgrounds don’t fit in with recommendations like ‘tone it down’ and ‘optimize for speed’. It’s a bad idea. Period.

The world doesn’t need video backgrounds

We have to start somewhere to eliminate the evil that is video backgrounds. Heal the world, start at your own home. Convince your customer that there are little upsides to video backgrounds. Show them a dozen websites that either support your claims or that fail to convince the visitor to use a video background. And please, please stop recommending them. On behalf of the entire internet, I thank you.

Read more: ‘Sliders suck and should be banned from your website’ »

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