Now that you’ve jazzed up your site with pictures, it’s time for something even more
There are two reasons you might put a video playback window in a post (or page).
First, you may want to use someone else’s video to add a little something extra to
your content (which is the ordinary text in your post). For example, if you comment
on a local protest concert, your post will be more interesting if you include a clip of
the event. Similarly, if you review a new movie, you might include its trailer. If you
talk about a trip to Egypt, you might want to take visitors inside the pyramids. In all
these examples, the video adds a bit of context to your post.
The other possibility is that the video may actually be your content. For example, you
might use video to show your band’s latest live performance, a bike-repair tutorial
you filmed in your garage, or a blistering web rant about the ever-dwindling size of
a Pringles can. In all these cases, you create the video and then use your WordPress
site to share it with a larger audience.
TIP Depending on the type of site you create, your written content doesn’t need to be about the video—instead,
the video could add supplementary information or a bit of visual distraction. For example, you may talk
about your favorite coffee blend and add a video that shows the grueling coffee harvest in Indonesia. Used carefully
and sparingly, video accompaniment can enhance your posts in the same way a whimsical picture cribbed
from a free photo service can.
To present someone else’s video on your site, find the movie on a video-sharing site
and copy the address. Most of the time, that video-sharing site will be YouTube, the
wildly popular hub that rarely drops out of the top three world’s most visited websites.
And if you want to show your own videos, you’ll probably still turn to a video-hosting
service like YouTube because the alternative—uploading your video files straight to
your web server—has some significant drawbacks. Here are some of the reasons
you should strongly consider a video-hosting service:
• Bandwidth. Video files are large—vastly bigger than any other sort of content
you can put on a site, even truckloads of pictures. And although you probably
have room for your video files on your web server, you might not have the bandwidth
allotment you need to play back the videos for all your visitors, especially
if your website picks up some buzz and has a hot month. The result could be
extra charges or even a crashed website that refuses to respond to anyone.
NOTE Bandwidth allotment refers to how much web traffic your site host allows. Hosts may limit bandwidth
so that an extremely busy site—one with lots of visitors stopping by or downloading files—doesn’t affect the
performance of other sites the service hosts.
• Encoding. Usually, the kind of file you create when you record a video differs
from the kind you need when you want to share it online. When recording, you
need a high-quality format that stands up well to editing. But when viewing a
video over the Web, you need a heavily compressed, streamlined format that
ensures smooth, stutter-free playback. Sadly, the process of converting your
video files to a web-friendly format is time-consuming, and it often requires
some technical knowledge.
• Compatibility. In today’s world, there’s no single web-friendly video format that
accommodates the variety of web browsers, devices (computers, tablets, and
mobile phones), and web connections (fast and slow) out there. Video services
like YouTube solve this problem by encoding the same video file multiple times,
so that there’s a version that works well for everyone. You can do the same on
your own, but without a pricey professional tool, you’re in for hours of tedium.
For all these reasons, it rarely makes sense to go it alone with video files, even if
you produce them yourself. Instead, pick a good video service and park your files
there. In the following section, you’ll start with YouTube.
The Dangers of Using Other People’s Video
The risk of embedding other people’s videos is that the video
hosting service may take the videos down, often because of
copyright issues, and they’ll disappear from your site, too. This
is a particularly acute danger for videos that include content
owned by someone other than the uploader. Examples include
scenes from television shows and fan-made music videos.
Usually, WordPress authors don’t worry about this problem—if
a video goes dead, they edit their posts after the fact. To avoid
potential problems from the get-go, stay away from clips that
are obviously cribbed from someone else’s content, especially
if they’re recent. For example, a video that shows a segment
from last night’s Saturday Night Live broadcast is clearly at
risk of being taken down. A decades-old bootleg recording of
a Grateful Dead concert is probably safe.
Showing a YouTube Video
Hosting a YouTube video in WordPress is ridiculously easy. All you need is the video’s
To get it, start by visiting the video page on YouTube. (If you’re one of the six people
who haven’t yet visited YouTube, start at http://www.youtube.com.) If you haven’t already
found the video you want, you can spend some time searching around.
When you find the right video, click the Share link under the video window. A panel
of information pops open, including a text box with the URL you need (Figure 10-17).
The URL will look something like this:
The first part, youtu.be, is a more compact form of the video’s full web address
(which starts with http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=). The string of letters and numbers
after it uniquely identifies the video you want.
The next step is even easier. Paste the video URL into your WordPress post, on a
separate line, in the location where you want the video to appear,
Now publish your post. You’ll be rewarded with another transformation, courtesy of
WordPress’s auto-embed feature. This time the URL turns into an embedded video
Uploading Your Videos to YouTube
The process of playing your own videos through YouTube
is essentially the same as the one for showcasing someone
else’s. The only difference is that you begin by signing up
with YouTube (if you don’t already have an account) and then
uploading your video. The steps are fairly straightforward—
click the Upload link at the top of the home page, next to the
YouTube search box, and then follow the instructions YouTube
gives you. Make sure you designate your video as public, which
means that it appears in YouTube’s search results. If you don’t
use this setting, you won’t be able to embed your video in a
WordPress post. Other settings (for example, whether you
allow comments and ratings) have no effect on whether you
can embed the video.
For best results, YouTube recommends that you upload the
highest quality video file you have, even if that file is ridiculously
big. YouTube will encode it in a more compressed,
web-friendly format, while preserving as much of the quality
as possible. And if the quality of your video is good enough,
YouTube will offer high-speed viewers the option to watch it
in high-definition format, using the H.264 standard.
Uploading videos takes a while, because the files are huge
and transferring all that data takes time, even on the fastest
network connection. YouTube also needs to process your video,
although its industrial-strength servers can do most of that as
you upload it. When you get the video live on YouTube, click
Share to get the URL you need for your WordPress post, which
you can paste alongside your content, exactly as you did before.