January 26, 2007

Webshots Integrates User Videos

Posted in Usability, webshots at 5:17 am by mj

Just before the holidays, Webshots launched videos. What I love about this is that videos are just another way to tell your story, and fit seamlessly into your albums. The coolest part of this, IMO, is the new slideshow.

(See an example slideshow at Webshots. *ahem* wordpress.com doesn’t yet support inlining Webshots videos or slideshows.)

While we do have a Video channel, our intent is for videos and photos to complement one-another, and to coexist on the page. Mark, our lead designer, has done a great job since mid-2006, and the natural fit of videos is one area where our August redesign is starting to pay off. (More payoffs will be apparent in the coming months.)

The one thing I think we did wrong is having a separate video search. This was a product decision made early on, with some technical ramifications. While it’s great to be able to effortlessly see the latest videos–overall, or by keyword–it’s the one area where we’re intentionally segregating photos and videos, and I’m not sure if that fits in with what our users will want. I think we should improve on that by making photos and videos searched together by default, and supporting a photo-only or video-only filter as an advanced option.

It’s interesting to note that, at launch, we supported higher resolution and better quality videos than the obvious rival YouTube. I was blown away by our team’s tests that showed the same video uploaded to each, and ours was obviously far superior.

Alas, that did not last, as many DSL connections could not support the increased bandwidth, so we had to scale back. Now, our videos have only a slightly greater encoded quality than YouTube, and our resolution is comparable. Longer term, I’d expect us to support multiple encodings/resolutions, and serve the best version that your connection will support.

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