Adding video to your website

Embedded video has the potential to enhance a web page, but they are not without pitfalls. Consider whether video is the best medium for your message and, if you decide it is, implement videos using best practices.

Is video an appropriate way to present your content?

Before committing to using video, you should determine whether video is an appropriate medium to present the information your website users are looking for.

Although the popularity and value of video is undeniable, text is still the most prominent and useful medium on the web. Text is scannable; accessible; easy to refer to; can be easily copied and pasted; is relatively easy to update; and indexes well in Google and other search engines. Text is also easier, and usually faster, to initially produce and post.

Video can be a chore, both to users and maintainers.

Reserve video for those things the medium is most adept at:

  • storytelling
  • interviewing
  • demonstrating complex procedure 
  • documenting events

University requirements and best practices

If you have determined that video is an appropriate medium to present or supplement your content, there are university requirements and best practices.

Make sure the video is accessible

Videos are a trouble spot for accessibility. Users with either visual or hearing impairments cannot get the full benefits from video, so all video should make available open or closed-captioning, sometimes supplemented with text transcripts. These materials should, in addition to making all spoken text and sounds accessibility, also account for "text as images," such as titles and credits. The only exceptions are videos that contain neither audio nor "text as images."

YouTube and Vimeo both have support for open or closed-captioning, so refer to their documentation for more information. If you begin by preparing a text transcript yourself, you can upload that transcript to YouTube and it will turn it into open or closed-captions.

In addition to aiding accessibility, text transcripts also provide an additional benefit — they make the spoken text in videos available for indexing in Google and other search engines. Although it is not required that text transcripts be included with every video embed, they can provide nice page content for those pages whose sole purpose is to present a video.

Only embed videos from reliable sources

Whether you are embedding video that somebody else created, or you are creating brand new video content, the video must be embeddable from a reliable source. This means an appropriate channel. Both YouTube and Vimeo use the channel model, where all videos belong to a channel maintained by a YouTube or Vimeo user.

If the video you want to embed already exists, determine whether the channel it is posted to is reputable and sustainable — reputable in that the channel is owned by a known company, organization or user and that the other videos in that channel are appropriate; sustainable in that the video is not likely to be deleted or its URL changed (either of which would break your embed).

If you are creating a brand new video, determine which channel it should be posted to. Don't post new videos to personal channels. Always look for an official university channel that would make an appropriate home for the content. If you do not have an official channel, go up your chain of command until you find one. eg. If you are in an academic department and your department does not have a channel, contact your college of school to see if you can use their channel. Do not create new channels without University Communications approval.

How to embed your video

Our Drupal 7 documentation provides the following resources that will help you embed video into your pages:

How to prepare a text transcript

Text transcripts are pretty straightforward. YouTube allows you to upload a simple text file of the spoken words, and their software will do a pretty good job of matching the text to the video and deploying captions at the appropriate timestamps.

YouTube also provides automatic captioning, and, although the accuracy is pretty good, proper names and appropriate punctuation are sometimes an issue. It is always best to prepare your transcript by hand, upload it and then tweak the captions as necessary.

If you plan to include your text transcript on your web page, make a copy of your transcript, edit it and precede each paragraph with the speaker's initials in boldface. For the first paragraph for each speaker, replace their initials with their full name to provide necessary context.