WebM is the online video format used in HTML5, and is the only web-focused video format available that is royalty-free and high quality. Launched in 2010 with the backing of powerful partners such as Google and Skype, the project has since expanded and evolved at a much faster pace than any other web format
Why You Should Care
That description wasn’t exciting enough? Alright then, here’s the low-down. Prior to WebM, web developers were trapped between two equally weak options for video content: Massive, bandwidth-hungry files that would seriously slow down a website, or embedded YouTube streams which often downgrade the video’s quality and take away from a website’s design. So when WebM came along, digital agencies such as ours were eager to get our hands dirty and see for ourselves if it really lived up to the hype.
So, without getting overly technical, let us give you the rundown:
It really only took a couple of tries of playing around with the format to figure out that we were in love. One of the fantastic things about WebM is that the platform is set up in a way that encourages progress and innovation. First of all, it’s completely free and fully open-sourced; This is something web developers love to hear. What it translates to is the freedom to take the project as it is and custom-tailor it to meet your needs while improving it for the greater good – it’s a win-win!
As for functionality, this is one of the only formats that doesn’t make any of the compromises of the previous methods. Not only is the quality exceptionally crisp, but the size of the file upload is laughably small. Take for example the video on Vordik’s homepage. Starting out at an uncomfortable 70 MB, when pushed through the WebM converter it became less than a single MB – that’s over 7,000 times smaller than the original without sacrificing any quality!
WebM Vs. GIFs
Having a format so tiny opens up a world of creative possibilities when it comes to video content on your website. It means no longer having to limit yourself to just one homepage video or explainer. One of the major trends in web design right now is including interactivity through motion on your website- hence the rising popularity of GIFs. WebM allows for similarly snappy little videos, but we found that it does the job much better than a GIF.
An Intuitive Experience
There are many tools that require extensive learning, seminars, training and gruelling hours of practice. If this wasn’t true, web designers and developers would be out of a job. However, the good news is, you really don’t need to be a professional to become familiar with WebM. Wether you’re a pro or an amateur, there’s almost no effort required here.
The only real downside is that users must have a modern Internet browser to be able to play a WebM video. This is where you need to take a moment to think about your user. If they are generally not as up-to-speed on technology, this may not be the right tool for you after all. While most modern versions don’t even require a plug-in for the video to play, users of older versions will simply get a prompt suggesting that they install a plug-in in order to be able to play the video.
The Bottom Line
To be honest, we had a difficult time trying to find something to include in “The Bad” section because, well, there isn’t much of a downside to using WebM. If you’re looking for an innovative new way to add depth and motion to your next digital project, you should definitely give the WebM project a shot.
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