Which video format is best for your website?
This question came in via email from one of the delegates at my 'How To Market Your Website' course...
"I have to get a video clip from one of my DVDs made up to go on a website for a publisher that I am writing an article for.
Could be good free publicity and I have realised that I should post it on to my new website.
My DVD editor tells me that he could either provide it as a Windows Media file or as a Quicktime file.
Which would be the best format?"
Bear in mind that this is an opinion based on 10 years in web development and emarketing, but that it is just my opinion, here's what I'd generally say to a UK based small to medium sized business;
The best format would be a Windows Media (.wma, .wmv) file as this can most easily be converted into a ‘Flash’ movie which can then be embedded in your website. This method has the most ‘cross-platform’ (multiple browsers, operating systems, etc) compatibility and is what I’d recommend. The drawback is that you need to find someone who’ll convert the file into a Flash movie for you. I can do it, and it’s only an hour or so’s work, if you get stuck.
Flash embedded movies are what YouTube use and they look like this:
The second best is QuickTime (.mov, .movie, .qt), but that has drawbacks in that seemingly less people have it correctly installed on their browsers than those who have Flash, so it will reach less of your market. This is strange I think, because QuickTime is a very mature and trusted bit of kit and many people install it as a matter of course when they install itunes... however the anecdotal evidence I've seen would make me put it as second to Flash for this purpose. If you were showing animation created by CAD software or some sort of virtual reality sofrtware, then it would be a different story.
Finally there’s the option of uploading a simple movie file such as .mp4, .mpeg, .mpg, wmv and allowing your web visitor's browser to choose which ever video player it has set as default to play the movie. This is quite widely used, but not much liked by me, as it requires Windows Media Player, QuickTime or similar to work without popping up any errors, and you as a publisher have less control over your movie's performance and projector size.
Also, you should consider your hosting package. Most hosts don’t really care about the size of the files you store on your web hosting server, but they care very much about how much data people download (called ‘data transfer’), so you will definitely need to check that a) you are allowed to host streaming video and b) you have a sizeable transfer limit per month.
If you are planning to add streaming video to your site and want to know how to go about it, get in touch.