Advantages & Disadvantages of Using Multimedia on Web Pages
By David Nield
In its early days, the Web was largely text-based. As Internet connections have improved and computers have become more powerful, it's now rare to find a Web page without a selection of images, video, or audio files included. Using multimedia in this way has its advantages and disadvantages, which should be weighed carefully when deciding how to structure your own site.
More Engaging Content
Still images, video, infographics, and other multimedia content break up the text of a Web page and make it more interesting for the viewer. Careful use of media files can make a blog post or a report far more engaging, emphasizing key pieces of information perhaps, or adding life and context to an otherwise dry story. For example, a rundown of the top five music sites looks far more appealing with thumbnails of each site.
In most situations multimedia content can be embedded on a site to allow visitors to view a picture or video without having to leave your site. Rather than providing a link on your site to a YouTube video, for example, you can embed the video itself, which ensures that viewers stay on the page and are encouraged to move to another article from your site rather than another video from YouTube. Audio files and images can be uploaded to your own Web server, reducing your reliance on external sites for interesting content.
Slower Loading Times
Adding multimedia content to a Web page inevitably slows the page's load time. With today's modern broadband connections and Web browsers, this difference may be barely noticeable, but packing many large pictures and videos into the same page can be off-putting. Consider splitting up the content across several pages instead.
While most Web browsers accommodate many audio, video, and image file formats, problems can happen. Adding multimedia increases the number of codecs and plugins a browser needs to load the page. The number of opportunities for bugs to creep into your site goes up as well. Multimedia also leaves you open to a third-party problem, such as a video being removed from YouTube, which will leave a blank space in any post in which you have embedded the video.
An information technology journalist since 2002, David Nield writes about the Web, technology, hardware and software. He is an experienced editor, proofreader and copywriter for online publications such as CNET, TechRadar and Gizmodo. Nield holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and lives in Manchester, England.