Vimeo is optimized for HD video (default playback setting) and gives the user numerous ways to share and distribute video. However, Vimeo, like YouTube, works best when your video is exported and optimized for the compression settings Vimeo prefers. Keep in mind that these settings change sporadically, so it’s best to check the Vimeo website for the latest information if you are working on a high profile project. Vimeo is especially well suited for embedding higher quality video as there are numerous playback options and Vimeo sets their default values somewhat higher for video playback. This can be either an advantage or disadvantage depending on your audience.

Vimeo compression website:

If you are using Final Cut Pro to export your video, here are some helpful tips related to settings. Again, it’s wise to check the most current settings on the Vimeo site before moving into a large export project.

(1) Export Type
You can export your videos using File->Export-> Quicktime Conversion or File->Send To->Compressor. The compressor provides more settings and also allows you to save a profile such as “Vimeo Export Settings.”

(2) Format and User Type
Format: MP4
User: LAN/Intranet

(3) Specifications
Click on the Options Button->
Video format: H.264
Data rate: 4500-5000 kbits/sec (may need to drop this to 3000 if you expect “slower” systems playing this content
Image size: 1280×720
Frame rate: current / key frame = 30 fps

(4) Audio
Click on the Audio Button (on top)->
AAC-LC, 320 kbps, channels=stereo, output sample rate=44.100khz, encoding quality=better

Technical requirements for uploading video to YouTube|

You’ll notice that the recommended export settings are very similar to Vimeo although the data rate is “automatic,” which could drop your intended image and audio quality below desired thresholds.

So, should you use Vimeo or YouTube?

This is a difficult question. Ideally, you should use both. The platforms have become very similar in terms of technical features, but YouTube is still the preferred platform for reaching a larger audience. Vimeo plays video by default in HD (YouTube plays HD only when the user selects this option—assuming the video is available in HD format) and still seems to use slightly higher quality settings for playback. So, if you are sure your end users have slower connectivity speeds, i.e. dial up, or are primarily rural–YouTube is often the preferred choice to ensure quicker download. Both platforms allow videos to be embedded on remote websites and allow keywords, channel/album association, customized shells, etc.

Another visible difference concerns advertisements. Currently, even when using a Vimeo Plus account, your Vimeo videos will playback on webpages that contain advertisements—normally at the bottom of the page. YouTube does not push advertising alongside of video playback, but you must be careful when directing users outside of your dedicated channel or embedded pages as videos played outside of this can sometimes associate with “unsavory” or inappropriate videos that show up on the heels of your screen in the form of thumbnails.

Gardening is one of our most popular topics within Cooperative Extension. In the spirit of form following function, we set out to capture some short vignettes from an expert gardener and convey the most important elements of these discussions in video, podcast, and caption-enhanced photo slide shows in a simple and easy to access format. We videotaped the interviews, worked on trimming down content and created an attractive and easy-to-use webpage that organizes the resources into appropriate categories. Before I discuss some of the lessons learned and design tips, feel free to look over the site.

Admittedly, it’s on the lower side of the complexity scale, but as mentioned, it’s mainly a collection of short stories that are formatted for online video. A few brief tips:

1. As always, think about your audience. This goes without saying and is built into any ID model. In our case, we imagined our online gardening enthusiasts swimming in an ocean of PDF files and knew they would welcome visual content that highlighted the experience of an expert in her own backyard.

2. Catchy headers, intros and titles are important. Eye tracking research on newsletter usability points out the dire need to capture reader attention in the first two words of titles and headers. A recent Jacob Nielson Alertbox provides other tips.

3. Modularize video content to ensure clips are short and compelling. Most of our video clips are under one minute and speak to a single topic. Although branded with our university logo, the style is conversational and to the point.

4. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good when you’re shooting video. Case in point, Kahn Academy…. Bill Gate’s favorite online teacher cobbled together a few hundred dollars worth of video equipment and single-handedly crafted almost 2,000 online video mini courses that are viewed upwards of 70,000 times a day. His 20 million page view count suggests he might be reaching as many “non-credit” students as several large universities.

5. Tools? We used video editing software (Final Cut Pro), Slideshow Pro (for the photos and captions), and a basic video camera with a wireless microphone.

Analytics show these online resources are popular and our low bounce rate (8%) suggests users are being pulled deeper into the site after landing on the home page. Our next step in this project is to build a virtual tour of our expert’s garden and allow users to drill down on key characteristics of the garden (water usage, light, native or non-native) based on a seasonal view.