September 16, 2013

Kickstarter Turns to HTML5 for Video, and More May Follow

Recently, Kickstarter made the announcement that the company was making the move to HTML5 for its video needs, and was using the <video> tag (NewsAlert) as the main means of bringing video to its crowdfunding platform. Coming with the move is not only a new way to serve up video, but also the potential for more video functionality on the site as a whole.

Formerly, Kickstarter depended on Flash to serve up video, only using HTML5 as a fallback measure should something go awry with the Flash functions. But given that Flash these days is primarily supported by older browsers that can’t handle h.264 video, that leaves using Flash as a primary video source these days something of an anachronism. At last report, the move was made, mainly, as a nod to mobile devices that don’t support Flash video, which is to say, most of said mobile devices. Even desktop machines these days take a little extra software support to run Flash video, and Flash has posed some unpleasant security issues as well in its own right.

But Kickstarter, meanwhile, has been rolling out its own HTML5 player over the course of the last couple weeks, serving up the new player to those who didn’t have HTML5 installed, as Kickstarter explained via its blog. This gradual rollout, in turn, allowed Kickstarter to iron out any wrinkles in the larger overall user experience, then opening up the HTML5 player to Kickstarter employees, which in turn ramped up the user base and provided more information about the overall experience.

This doesn’t change much, overall, in terms of the larger site’s operation, but does however allow Kickstarter to offer up more changes in its video player since it can now do such things without turning to outside consultants to make said changes. Some are even expecting that the Kickstarter video player will start making its way to the user base fairly soon as a result of all the modifications and the gradual, multi-staged rollouts.

Indeed, this is probably the best way to stage such a rollout. It’s being done a little at a time, with an eye toward improving the experience at every level rather than just throwing the update out and hoping the user base figures out how to swim before it sinks instead. These kinds of rollouts are often the best for the users, and turn out well with repeatedly vetted experiences getting regular retooling and modification to catch small problems before same can turn into larger issues.

The end result is that the the Kickstarter video player, when it arrives, should be a reliable and useful force for promoting Kickstarter projects. Video on Kickstarter can have quite a bit of impact, and using video properly has likely helped a few projects get funded that otherwise wouldn’t. So this improvement will likely not only benefit Kickstarter, but also Kickstarter’s users, all thanks to HTML5 video.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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