When to use video

It’s a challenge to deliver video via the web. The file sizes are still large and motioned videos with details are not displayed well on low quality videos. Nonetheless some videos are already presented in HD and soon this will be the expectation for online videos.


  • Use videos to show things that move in real life (animals, hurricane).
  • Use video to give your audience an impression of something (dancing class, concert).
  • Use videos for software demos.
  • Use videos for informative movies which the user can use to learn about something like a product or a service.


  • Don’t use videos with single persons staring at the camera.
  • Don’t use videos that are created for televisions or movie screens.
  • Don’t automatically launch videos on your website.

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What’s Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video and interactivity to Web pages. Flash can be displayed on various computer systems using Adobe Flash Player.

The Adobe Flash Player plays the SWF and FLV format and is available free of charge for Web browsers and some mobile phones.

What’s SWF?

The SWF format (ShockWave Flash) is used to display animated vector graphics on the web. It’s a compiled Flash file that can be played by the Adobe Flash Player and can no longer be edited with Adobe Flash.

What’s the problem with Flash?

  • You need the Adobe Flash software to create an SWF file.
  • Adobe Flash is difficult to use and requires Action Script programming.
  • If your site visitors don’t have the Adobe Flash Player or they don’t have the proper Flash plug-in, they will not be able to see the animation.
  • Adobe Flash handles text poorly and is criticized due to the fact that it is not accessible for everyone. Apple for example no longer supports Flash on mobile devices.

What are the alternatives to Flash?

A new technology called HTML5 is now coming up. HTML5 doesn’t require a plug-in and it’s user friendlier. But the technology is still in its infancy and doesn’t work well with all browsers.

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When to use animation

Animation dominates the user’s attention. It tends to distract your site visitors and make it hard for them to concentrate on the page content. For this reason you should use animations sparingly.


  • Use instructional animations to show procedures or tasks that are hard to describe with static pictures. Accompany the instructions with text that explains the animation.
  • Use animation to draw attention to a single element on the page.
  • Use an animated progress indicator with a short text to keep your users interested while they are waiting.
  • Use only one-time animation.


  • Don’t use animation if it’s not relevant and should not draw attention.
  • Don’t use intro animation on the home page.
  • Don’t animate the following elements: logo, tagline, page titles, and headline.
  • Don’t animate the navigation.
  • Don’t use animation that looks like advertising.
  • Don’t combine animation with animated text. It’s difficult to read text while watching a demonstration.

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How to use multimedia on the web


Multimedia such as animation, slideshows, video and podcasts offer a great opportunity to combine text, graphics, sound, and moving images to deliver meaningful content.

Use multimedia content only when you want to attract attention. The animation, video, or sound must be closely related to the context of the page. Use only stable technologies that work for Windows, Mac and Linux/Unix machines.

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How to make images accessible for everyone

It’s important not to exclude people with visual or hearing impairments from visiting your website.

Site visitors who cannot see your text and images will use an assistive technology such as a screen reader to access the content.

How to describe images

Every image offers an alternate text alt=” ” which you can use to describe the content and functionality of the image in a few words. Google also uses the alternate text to catalogue the image.

Try to make your images comprehensible. Don’t describe every detail of the image but describe the meaning of the image within the context of the page.

  • Describe the function of buttons and icons.
  • Describe the content of logos, banners and images.
  • Label navigation graphics with the names of the site sections.

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