It seems like many people are jumping on the online video bandwagon. With Google's recent purchase of YouTube more people are looking to integrate video in to their web site. As with everything else in life, with every virtue comes a vice. There are a number of things you should consider before using video on your web site.
The virtuous side of video is that almost anyone can easily post their videos online. In years past video production was a very expensive process. Today people with camera phones are capturing video and quickly posting it online. Video allows you to easily present messages in different ways. A number of companies and organizations are pushing online video through their web sites. You can show your users or potential consumers something that words might not always be able to convey. Video also allows you to pass along sound and music with your imagery. George Lucas, states it best: "sound and music are 50% of the entertainment in a movie."
How can video be a vice? With so much video going online very little of it is high quality content. The quality has nothing to do with how nice the video looks, but the quality of the information you convey. The more time passes, the more low quality video makes it online. How many times have you sat through a two minute video and found it to be a complete waste of time?
Use video responsibly. If you are going to post video on your web site make sure it relates to what you are trying to convey on your site and to your target market. Tease people with your videos. There is a reason why movie trailers are only a minute or two long. They want to get you wrapped up in something without boring you or giving too much away. Many people forget to optimize their online video presentations. They'll post large files that take a while to download even with broadband connections.
Take a look at how YouTube.com presents video. After you select a video to watch, featured video is presented in the main window with related videos (presented as static images) off to the right. You don't want to overload your user with options. An example of information overload can be found at: http://www.dosomethingamazing.com/. The videos are nice but presented poorly. They are task saturating the users as soon as the home page loads with sound and video.
Online video is here to stay. Make sure you use it tastefully and responsibly. One of the most important things to remember is because you can have video on your site doesn't mean you need to have video. You can create highly effective messaging with words and pictures. Some of the most effective messaging comes courtesy of the written word. Make sure you don't load your site up video just so you can say you have video.