(Before You) Background Video

Before jumping-into adding background video to a website, you should review considerations and limitations:


The Just Because Clause

Don’t just use this technique because you can: video content must amplify a site’s message, not just be shown because it’s pretty. Unless it's really-really-really pretty.


Sound Off

The video will likely be set to autoplay, but it should be muted by default; ideally, it should not include sound at all. Please, and for the love of all things holy, MUTE. THAT.



The video should display a placeholder image, falling back to a static background image for browsers that do not support HTML5. The placeholder image will also be used a background on mobile devices: most phones and tablets do not support auto-play, for obvious reasons.



If too short, a video can feel repetitive (as most such videos will be set to loop), while too long becomes a narrative unto itself, and therefore deserving to be a separate design element. 
A runtime of approximately 12 – 30 seconds will be ideal.


Accessibility & Contrast

Any text or (logo) image placed on top of the video should remain in high contrast throughout the length of the video. Considering that every frame of the video is different, this can be hard to achieve, but it's totally possible to add an "overlay filter" to the browser with CSS code to better add to the contrast. Users should have easy access to a UI control to pause the video*; ideally, the video should play through only once.

* It's an accessibility issue; flashing or strobing content can trigger epilepsy and migraines in susceptible individuals, and some will find it difficult to read content with moving images on the page. Those visitors should not visit the Squareflair 404 page.


Browsers Still Suck at HTML5 Video?

Is it a truth that all other browsers besides the one I use are horrible? OF COURSE! That's one way to look at it, but in reality, we always need to be aware of what users use (what people surf with sounded worser). For this, it's always a good idea to deliver the same video in various formats. The HTML5 <video> element works in the latest versions of all major browsers (IE9+, Firefox 7+, Chrome 14+, Safari 4+, and Opera 11+). But because different browsers prefer different native video formats (of course, why wouldn't they?) — a typical implementation of <video> in HTML5 looks like this: 

Typical HTML5 video implementation

Typical HTML5 video implementation

In horse racing terms: 

Frontrunners MP4 and running mate WEBM are on-course to the bank, and washed-out OGV (OGG) is still hanging on. 

Another way to remember it: 

"WHO DOWN WITH O.G.G.? ... some versions of Firefox, um... homie."

The fallbacks are necessary because not all browsers support MP4 playback. Those that do not will skip to the WEBM format. If the browser doesn’t support MP4 or WEBM, it will default to the OGV format. Between these three formats, you should have compatibility with just about every common browser. 

A closer look at the <video> attributes used above:

  • poster – a link to an image that will be displayed while the video is loading or prior to the visitor clicking on the play button
  • controls – tells whether or not the visitor can see the video playback controls
  • muted - this mutes the sound on the video
  • source – the link to the video file’s location
  • source type – the video format of the referenced file
  • fallback text – the text within the <p> tags will display if the browser cannot play any of the three video formats

If the video content is of utmost importance that it must be viewed, well then— don't put it in the background of your page. But seriously, if you want to provide a link for people to play it, then the fallback text could read something like this: 

Your browser doesn't support HTML5 video. Here's a <a href="#">link</a> to download the video.

Stepping back out of the Nerd Forest and back to considerations and limitations; there's much more to adding video to the background of a page, like adding CSS styles using javascript, and all the testing. We're only scratching the surface here, people!


Bandwidth is Still a Major Concern

The video needs to be small, and compressed as effectively as possible. Try to keep the video under 5MB; ideally, under 500K. Additionally, the video needs to scale across different devices and their associated screens. 

After calculating all the other content that has to load on the page, ask yourself this important question: 

"what would it do to the visitor's experience if I added another 8MB to this page?"


What About YouTube?

Meh. Despite the popular belief that YouTube is all you need, it does have some notable downsides. For example, at the end of your YouTube video a series of other recommended videos is displayed, which is hideous. YouTube also adds a small watermark to every video, which isn’t always acceptable (also hideous). There are plenty of other cases where YouTube is not a viable option, so to be safe, go the extra mile and make things awesome by using custom code that's made for the site.

Converting Word docs to PDF files in Google Drive

This is great news for any medical practice!

Without access to a Adobe Acrobat Pro, it's been difficult in the past to create PDF files. But today, you can use several (free!) third-party apps that integrate with Google Docs to convert your files to PDF (or virtually any other format). You can also combine multiple files into one PDF, which makes things easier to manage on a website.

What about HIPAA?

It's true that you can actually set up your practice on the "Professional" version of Google Apps/Docs to keep all of your docs accounts fully-HIPAA-compliant. 

However, in this example, you can use any Google Docs account to create your file(s), because you're going to export the final file(s) from Google Docs, to later upload/add to your own site. There's not a real concern for HIPAA regulations— assuming you've made it clear to the patient that, instead of emailing or faxing, you want this type of documentation mailed or brought-in on their next visit.

Example practice statement for "New Patient Packet" downloads

Example practice statement for "New Patient Packet" downloads


To support the needs of our customers in various healthcare industries, Creative Component, LLC ("Squareflair") suggests that HIPAA compliant security measures are in place and followed. 

This video serves only as an example of the possible workflow.

How to sell video content online using Gumroad

In this quick demo, I'm showing how you can set-up Gumroad's video streaming to allow the sale of rental content online. You can then embed the product on any website, or share the link socially in seconds.

Easily offer the option for your audience to rent or purchase your film/video content. Rentals are available for 30 days after purchase. Once started, viewers have 72 hours to watch the rental as often as they’d like. / Upload files up to 12GB each in any format and bundle them however you like. Create unlimited offer codes for your viewers.

The "product" I built in the video can be viewed here:  https://gum.co/itsademo

Check-out Gumroad.com for full features and tutorials.

Squarespace Hack: "Image Needed" (image replacement)

When working on templates for clients, I'm typically inserting temporary image content to get through training. 

In this case, I'm using the default Squarespace "Default Image" to show the client admin: "you need an image here"

Simply, on mouse hover, the user would see an image is needed when they see the image I've provided.

Another class could be selected to normally display the helper image, or a logo could be added to replace the default image JUST IN CASE the site is launched with this "hack" in place.

Quick Responsive Squarespace Tip: Formatting Text using a Spacer Block Instead of using a Line Break

When adding site content, sometimes it's hard to remember that a site's text content should adapt across all device widths. This is the essence of Responsive Design.

Specifically, within Squarespace it's easy to adapt content to work across all devices.

The following is a bit of a hack, using a "Spacer Block", one of Squarespace's built-in content blocks.

Squarespace Summary Blocks: Featured and Latest Posts

This tip is based on the signalvnoise.com blog — At the bottom of the blog, they have "greatest hists" and "latest posts".

This is easily re-created in Squarespace using built-in Summary Blocks and CSS tweaks to make it pretty.