How do I add images, animation, video and audio to my website?

Multimedia  content on the web can be divided into two types:

Still images

Images can communicate concepts quickly and increase the attractiveness of web pages. Common images displayed on business and organisation websites include:

  • Photographs of business premises, people and products
  • Company logos
  • Diagrams and other illustrations that describe business products and services
  • Maps of business locations.

importantIMPORTANT

Make sure that you either own the intellectual property in the images you use on your site or that you have permission from the copyright holder(s) and acknowledge them appropriately.

For more information, see ‘Legal tips’.

Sourcing images

There are several options for sourcing website images, including:

  • Creating your own
  • Licensing or purchasing images from photo libraries
  • Using pre-cleared images that are licensed under a Creative Commons licence

Browsing image libraries can also help give you some ideas if you need to present a concept, service or activity visually.

If you need to purchase images, some image services include:

external linkAustralian Stock Images  (Australian)
external linkOz Stock (Australian)
external linkAustralia Stock Photos (Australian)
external linkiStockphoto (international)
external linkGetty images (international)

One of the largest repositories of  Creative Commons licence images is Flickr. You can find CC-licensed images via the Flickr advanced search function.

Creative Commons–licensed media and businesses

Not all Creative Commons licences allow for use by businesses. If you are a business, look for a tick box that says something like ‘Find content to use commercially’ when searching a database of CC-licensed media.

You may want to read more about Creative Commons on Flickr.

Icons and symbols

Icons and symbols can be used to reduce the amount of text on a page.

Many social media sites also have their own icons or symbols that are commonly recognised and used, for example:

linkedintwitter

These icons can provide useful signals to inform users of your presence on related social media platforms. Make sure that you use these and any other icons and symbols according to the guidelines provided by the owners for their use.

Audio, video and animations

Including animated and multimedia content on your site can provide even more of an engaging and attractive visual experience for users.

Animation

Animated content is presented in a short, visual sequence that usually plays automatically. This can include words or images that appear and move across the screen when a user opens a page on your website. Options for tools to create animated content include:

external linkAdobe’s Flash  product
external linkMicrosoft’s SilverLight 
external linkScalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 

The canvas feature in the HTML5 coding standard.

Flash is currently one of the most commonly used tools but has the limitation that it is not supported on many mobile devices, including the iPhone.

Animation software is usually quite expensive, and you may need a significant amount of training or practice to learn to use these software packages effectively.

Many institutes of technology or private training organisations run short courses on web application software and animation tools. Alternatively, if you are hiring a web designer, they might be able to help in this area.

Audio and video

Video differs from animation because it is usually a recording of a real-life event.

Video can come from professional-grade video cameras, digital cameras, webcams and even smartphones.

Web users usually expect to be able to watch a video by pressing a ’play’ or ‘►’ button.

The simplest way to put video on a website is to make use of a video hosting service. These services are usually free, but may charge you if you want to use more advanced features or host large video files.

Popular video sharing websites include:

external linkYouTube — a large-scale video-sharing website that supports sharing, storage, embedding and user-comments on each video page.

external linkVimeo — a video-sharing website with a smaller user-base than YouTube, but with a greater emphasis on community and creativity. Organisations that are particularly interested in creating a specific look and feel for their site may be more interested in hosting their videos on Vimeo.

The sites listed above allow you to embed your own videos (or videos shared by others) within your own website. This means that your visitors will be able to play videos, but you do not have to worry about the cost of  hosting services, which can be expensive.

Alternatively, if you want to handle all aspects of video yourself, you can host your own video. Depending on the format you choose, some users may need to download  plugins before viewing it.

Common video players include:

external linkAdobe Flash Player
[external linkMicrosoft Windows Media Player
external linkApple Quicktime
external linkDivX
external linkVLC which is an open source alternative

Audio files are usually presented in a similar way to video files and using the same media players.

Popular audio hosting sites include:

external linkSoundcloud
external linkTindeck

Files with video content are often extremely large. You will usually need to make a compromise between the size at which the video is displayed (its resolution) and the time it will take to download. The duration of the clip is also a factor in file size.