WWJD (What Would Jakob Do?)

So many clients have been struggling with web video and video podcast issues, it’s great timing that Jakob Nielsen has weighed in on the web video issue again. New media types often find Nielsen to be a bit too stodgy, bemoaning eye candy in favor of usability, but TV types will find him downright dictatorial. TV people are used to a passive audience. Entertain them and they won’t reach for the remote. In other words, the audience is theirs to lose. It’s a diffferent world on the web users rarely take their fingers off the mouse and multiple content items can occupy the same screen.

Often clients assume more is more in web video. When in doubt put it up there. That’s a terrible approach. Bore them too many times (usually once is enough), and the users stop trusting you. I’m not sure I agree with Nielsen’s recommendation that web video be limited to one minute or less in duration, but it’s refreshing to hear a voice of reason on the topic.

Some other things to consider…

  • Do you really need video to tell the story? So much of TV is radio anyway. Why waste the bandwidth on talking heads? An audio-only experience might be better for both the user and your bandwidth budget.
  • Is a transcript in order? Reading is a far more efficient data absorption method for the average person. Often reading a transcript is better than waiting for a media player to launch and the buffer to fill.
  • Move longer pieces to the podcast model. Again, consider whether an audio-only experience would be better for the user. An audio podcast can be safely experienced while walking or driving, and the media player’s batteries will last longer.

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