I’ve been trying to pay more attention to page speed and figuring out how things load on and that sort of thing lately. Generally, I haven’t bothered too much because I like simple things and work a lot on mobile so I just figured if I can upload something on a 3G connection, then someone else can probably download it. The more I've started learning, the more I realise that's not true and there's a bit more to it but there's one fashionable marketing technique that I would like to see killed with fire and possibly bees so long as the bees don't get burned in the fire because we need them to pollinate things.
What gets me with a lot of brand work though (UX and marketing designers I’m looking at you) is that the high temple of page load fastness seems to go out the window when it comes to video. While the designers wail at me wanting to put an analytics tracking code into the page, dumping a hipster Vimeo player with a giant HD video file in there is no problem at all because… pretty. Look we all love Jony Ive and the Apple things but group-think generic stripping and bleaching out of everything doesn't make you a better designer. The genius of Apple design is understanding the user in context which is generally not a giant white room with mega screens and super fast internet connections.
For example, a typical call to action from an email or social media lead generation card will send the user to a landing page with a snappy campaign headline and a button to start a free trial. All the elements are super well designed and fast and that’s all lovely. Then, a massive video player gets dumped in the middle of the page.
As much as this Dropbox landing page looks nice there are three things you might want to thing about:
1. I have to play the video to find out what your new app or feature does. If I’m on mobile, I may not want to play the video yet or at all because I’m on a slow connection or just tapping away on a train. Please just explain to me in a couple of text bullet points what your new feature or app does. Note I said text, not a massive image to hold your text. Most people have never heard of your app or service.
2. It’s the attention economy and you haven’t earned enough of my attention yet to justify a 90-second walk through video or customer story. I see this with a lot of smaller apps where they might get a shout out at a conference or a startup demo. You might want me to download or trial your product and I’m OK with giving you an email address for that. Getting my email address should be the priority and not video plays. I’m more likely to see you app mentioned again in my email and then you can use my lead for follow up emails and conversion. Send me the video link then if you want.
3. If your video is cranked up to ridiculous-HD and I can’t turn it down this makes me sad. I generally run video on the lowest setting available because I want it to go fast. Sometimes I just want to hear the audio running and tab away until you say something interesting I need to see. For example, if I’m watching a Google Hangout, I turn it to the lowest quality (fastest speed) and leave it playing like a podcast and tab back. I do the same with livestreams and webcasts so I can do other things while the stream is running. In this scenario, when you app gets mentioned, directing me to a landing page with another video doesn’t really work. If your video keeps stuttering and buffering then obviously I’m going to click away, the same as for a slow web page. Make sure your player has quality settings that can be adjusted and remember that not everyone is sitting on a giant screen plugged into a satellite dish.
I would much rather go for something like Dollar Shave Club as it contains more information. Even if I don’t watch the video, I can see what the product or service does, benefits and key features, pricing indication and customer testimonial. The Do It button provides a call to action and turns me from a window shopper into a paying customer or in a very least, a warm lead.
Also, have a look at Facebook and Twitter lead generation cards and how much faster they can do the same job with simple elements on mobile
Designers probably spill their organic tea with horror at the thought but the landing page has a job to do, it’s not just there to look pretty and provide a backdrop for a cool video that I'll never watch on mobile.