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However cute you might think it is to look at animated GIFs of dancing hamsters all day long, it's unlikely that the hamsters are doing much to make your site useful to your visitors. In comparison, although it initially seems frivolous, a video of an iPhone being shredded in the blender might be totally acceptable. If your site is the one selling the blender, it demonstrates just how strong the motor is. Graphics, videos, and such can be entertaining, and definitely the entertainment value adds to their capacity to go viral. But, the big question is, does the multimedia element you're adding enhance the experience for your visitors? Splash screens might well set a mood, but the typical mood they set is impatience.
There aren't many messages that can be put across better on a splash screen than on your site's homepage. They aren't doing anything to enhance the experience for your visitors. Instead, they are just telling people how much the site cares about its own looks rather than about providing useful information. Think about times when you've been on sites, and the media has done anything but enhance the experience. I'm talking about when you navigate to a site, and music starts playing in the background, or a video auto-plays. Not only is this shocking to us, it can also be embarrassing if we are in an office with other people who not automatically think we're goofing off.
It's even worse when the video that plays is an advertisement on the site rather than the content that's even produced by the site itself. Apart from the obvious frustration issues, there are other reasons not to auto-play the content on your site. If the media isn't at the top of the page, then it might be halfway through playing before people get to see it. Instead, have a clear Play button and a clear Mute button. Another issue is when you use media formats that require special plugins, or need the latest and greatest version, when do this, you're immediately limiting the number of people who would be able to use the media. Everyone else sees a really ugly space in the page, and maybe an error message from their browser.
In my experience, users tend to associate these plugin requests with broken sites. In other words, they will think that the problem lies with your site, rather than with their computer. And in some ways, they are right. The problem is that you didn't anticipate the technical environment your users would have available. Sometimes, it's hard to be objective about a piece of multimedia content. You love it, and you want to share it with the world. However, remember that your site visitors may not share your tastes. Think carefully about your visitor's goals on the site, and ask yourself, does this content really enhance their experience?
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