Improve video engagement by adding a preview on your website.

In the internet era, people have grown accustomed to skimming through text and looking at photos. Still videos remain a great way to connect with the visitors.  I see many entrepreneurs  investing time and energy in crafting  beautiful videos to sell their product and services. These awesome creative people spend hours trying to come up with witty, clever words delivered confidently in front of the camera.

Once the camera is turned off, cuts have been edited, background music has been added and timeline has been adjusted – video is finally ready to be uploaded onto the website! 

Now, we have few choices to make when you are pushing the video on the website. 

You can host your video on YouTube and embed it on your website and call it done. Using a fast, free,  reliable and universally recognized video streaming service such as YouTube is tempting. 

Recently, I made an effort to improve on the video embedding – and here are my findings.


First leap-frog step towards improving user experience is to generate a professional looking video thumbnail ( poster). I see videos embedded on a  website that didn’t pick this low-hanging fruit. I am a huge fan of Canva.  Canva has pre-built templates that takes minutes to build professional looking Thumbnail. Give Canva a go – and you are more than halfway ahead.

Preview on Hover: 

Another improvement you can add is to add a video preview. We are familiar with video previews available on almost all major video streaming platforms (such as YouTube, Netflix and almost all). When the user hover cursor over the video, the video starts playing in Mute.  Viewers can get a glimpse of the video to decide if they want to watch it.  The previews are great at convincing users to click the play button. So why not add similar functionality on your own website?

You can add video preview if you are self-hosting or using paid video hosting services. I found AWS Amplify and AWS S3 is cost efficient.  Hosting on AWS S3 is reliable and blazing fast for your viewers and they are less distracted by YouTube’s advertisements. For paid subscription based websites AWS is great video hosting alternative.

If AWS isn’t your cup-of tea, Vimeo and Wistia are great paid alternatives.

To play, or not to play, that is the question: 

One thing I have tried while editing videos is *not* to add name and title in the first few seconds and *not* to start the video with an introduction. 

What value does customers get by knowing that you are ABC at XYZ company? Nothing!   So save introduction for a later part in the video.

Instead, use that real estate to reiterate the video’s core value. There are two ways you can achieve this. 

  • Add burn-in captions in the first few seconds of video frames. This is your chance to convey users they should click Play!
  • For product demo or How To videos – include Product Shots or Screenshots at the beginning. The preview will showcase screenshots enticing viewers to click Play.

Final Thoughts: 

If you like to make this happen for your website, drop me a line at

. Follow me on twitter @meera_datey for updates on front end web development, chatbots and building stuff and bit of personal opinions.

Credit: Stick figure from: