Beah recently complained about my short blog entries, so I just found an easy way to make a long one: copy and paste from an email! I was recently asked to help out a friend of a friend with video content on a website. Since this advice can apply to a lot of people, I see no reason to keep it exclusive to a few people. I haven’t edited this so it may not read very well for a blog entry, but in any case, here’s a snippet of the message:
Flash video is great for drive-by viewings by people who are new to your site. It plays right in the web browser, almost anyone with a computer will be able to watch it without installing anything, and the quality/size ratio tends to be reasonable. However, if your visitors will want the videos to be more portable, or if you have a lot of repeat visitors (subscribers), then you might want to consider doing an actual video podcast instead of simply embedding a file in a webpage.
In case you’re unfamiliar, here’s the deal with a podcast:
It’s an XML feed that your users subscribe to, just like they may subscribe to an RSS feed for a blog. That way, instead of users having to constantly check your site for new videos, they can simply subscribe and be notified when new content is available. And, if they subscribe using a podcast-capable aggregator such as iTunes, the video is automatically downloaded in the background, ready for instant viewing anytime even if the user is offline. It can also sync to portable devices such as the iPod/iPhone, and can be listed in podcast directories, such as the one built into iTunes.
I design my podcast around Apple’s specs, since iPod/iTunes is likely the most popular solution for viewing podcasts: http://www.apple.com/itunes/store/podcaststechspecs.html
For my own personal videos, here’s what I do:
– Podcast feed, containing iPod-compatible videos, hosted on my site for subscribers
– Videos syndicated on a YouTube playlist for YouTube subscribers, as well as for embedding videos on my site for those first-time/drive-by visitors who want instant gratification.
I create the Podcast feed using Podcast Maker, which is $30, but I think you can actually do it for free now using the current GarageBand. If you’re not on a Mac, I’m sure your favorite search engine will be able to help you out in finding similar software.