Video content is at the heart of the modern website. Of all the different content types you can add to your site, video is the most likely to spark conversions and holds user attention the longest. But when it comes to adding video content to your site, what’s the best approach? From plug-ins to links, these 4 factors can help you choose the ideal format.

The Downside Of Uploads

When you dig around in the WordPress interface, one of the first things you’ll notice is that the site gives you the option to directly upload your video rather than embedding it from an external site. And on the surface, that seems like the most convenient route. The problem is that, when you upload the video to WordPress, you don’t have a hosting platform. This diminishes viewing quality for your users and is less reliable from a performance perspective. Skip the WordPress upload and host your videos elsewhere.

Consider A Plug-In

Instead of directly uploading your video to WordPress, a better option is to use a plug-in to embed your content. Tools like Nivo, Slider, and FooBox are lightbox plug-ins that provide a simple, easy to use means of adding video to your site. They make it easy to add video content hosted elsewhere, such as on YouTube or Vimeo, and display it on your site. Lightbox displays also increase user engagement with videos.

In practice, direct embeds are what most users are familiar with. For example, if you take a look at the well-known Story of Stuff website, you’ll see a lightbox-style display of their videos, such as The Story of Microfibers or The Story of Microbeads. The display provides quick access to their full library. If your website features multiple videos, it’s an ideal choice.

Head Off Site

Though on-site video is the gold standard for engagement and conversion, sometimes it’s just not a good fit for a website. If you’re looking for more of a clean, minimal appearance, it may be better to provide links so that users can watch videos off site. On the RISE Credit website, for example, users can select “Building a Budget” or “Taming Debt” – links featuring a play button, suggesting they’re videos – and it will direct you back to YouTube. There, users will get the consistent playback experience they’re used to.

Know Your Goals

Ultimately, when choosing the right video format for your website, it all comes down to understanding your goals. For example, with YouTube cracking down on external links, particularly for fundraisers like Patreon or GoFundMe, small sites may want to opt for a different host. But considering YouTube’s additional ability to monetize content for pages with over 1,000 subscribers, it remains a strong contender for bigger names.

The most important factor in selecting a video format for your WordPress is always performance, and in that regard, external hosting is always the way to go. Beyond that, your choice largely hinges on aesthetics – do you want the excitement and engagement of onsite content or the simple, clean appearance of off-site viewing? Either can provide performance, but the final product should be a coherent vision that drives conversions.

So how do you imagine your website?