GIF and video backgrounds are spreading. 

Focus on enjoyable customer experiences has led many to create focused, unfussy websites that provide clear messages and unforgettable images.

Open source platforms and social media have played a large part in perpetuating this trend. The rise of the smartphone means we're more comfortable with scrolling experiences, so content can be dispersed down the page.

As the big tech companies work to decrease load times on mobile, this trend will surely continue. I've gone through some top agencies and brands and found 10 websites that eschew the measly written word for GIF or video backgrounds.

Click on any of the images to see the sites for yourself, and for more on this topic read our post on 17 crucial web design trends for 2015 or book onto our Usability and User Experience Training Course.

1. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

I'm starting with this one as a bit of fun. As it goes, the Japanese model/artist doesn't have a brilliant website. But the homepage couldn't be more striking.

If you have strange fantasies about zombies in My Little Pony colouring, this is the site for you.

kyary pamyu pamyu

2. McCann London

McCann simply uses looping videos of its colourful campaigns, teed up in a slider (there's also a welcome message below the fold and three news items).

As most good creative agencies realise, there's nothing more impressive than the work.

Whilst we're here, I might as well mention the About page, which uses a hero image of the agency's stunning offices, the 1930s former Daimler Hire garage (which, urban legend has it, was the inspiration for the Fisher Price garage).

mccann homepage

3. Land Rover

More slider video goodness here. I don't know why a Range Rover traversing a classical stone bridge with a backdrop of Scots pine is quite so arousing. It certainly made me aspire to something better than my Citroen.

Product pages use full-screen imagery, too.

land rover homepage

4. British Higher School of Art & Design

This might be my favourite example. This time it's GIFfery and not video.

I love the way the imagery inspires a collegial atmosphere. I would enrol, but I draw like a dog.

british school of art and design website

5. Diesel

Classic stuff. Angry looking models in spotless apparel.

diesel homepage

6. Airbnb

Airbnb's homepage has a heartwarming/voyeuristic hero video pane featuring travellers waking up and generally having fun in other people's homes, towns and villages.

airbnb homepage

7. Hilton

Not to be out done, Hilton goes for the same vibe. It starts with a woman in a swimming pool (not quite as folksy, obviously) but continues to show videos of places in a similar vein to its competitor.

In fact, it's remarkable how similar the two homepages are, even the same call to action on the booking engine!

hilton homepage

8. Apple Music

The distinctive Gap-like, Nike-esque visuals of an Apple ad feature on the backdrop video to Apple Music.

apple music website

9. Powerhouse Company

What better company to use a video homepage than a firm of architects and designers? Head through to the buildings pages themselves and you'll again find full screen video on top of beautifully designed text and imagery.

This is coffee-table glossy, architecture porn (if i'm allowed to say that).

powerhouse company

10. Ru Bespoke

This Chinese tailor evokes sinister levels of luxury with a stylish background video showing experienced hands lovingly caressing scissors and some suit pants (I think).

ru bespoke homepage

Ben Davis

Published 13 October, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Deputy Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

1085 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

Hi Ben,
"10 successful homepages", how do you know they are successful? Is there any evidence that this is an effective design trend?

almost 2 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Deputy Editor at EconsultancyStaff

It's my entirely subjective assessment, based on the brand impact of each website. TBH I was so impressed by McCann and Land Rover (blame a love of campaign inculcated by Mad Men, and a hatred of identikit automotive websites), I thought I should look for some more that stand out.

I think video is more useful for services or considered purchases. I guess designer fashion could fall into the latter category, but it would be interesting to see what impact video has on conversion for a website such as Schuh's. I imagine 'successful' might not be the right word.

Horses for courses. In lieu of me finding some stats to back it up, what do you think?

almost 2 years ago

Ivan Burmistrov

Ivan Burmistrov, Usability Expert at interUX Usability Engineering Studio OÜ

The fact that modern smartphones make users scroll, scroll and scroll doesn’t mean that users are “comfortable with scrolling experiences”. Actually users hate scrolling. This is a recent research on this topic:

Johannes Harms, Martina Kratky, Christoph Wimmer, Karin Kappel, Thomas Grechenig (2015) Navigation in long forms on smartphones: Scrolling worse than tabs, menus, and collapsible fieldsets, pp. 333-340 in: Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2015: 15th IFIP TC 13 International Conference (Bamberg, Germany, September 14–18, 2015): Proceedings, Part III. Cham: Springer | http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-22698-9_21

It is obvious to any specialist in usability and ecommerce that photo and video backgrounds are a wrong trend in webdesign and that adding background photos and videos can’t lead to any “success” because:

(1) this is a meaningless waste of the most valuable screen real estate (above the fold);

(2) photos and videos distract user’s attention unnecessarily;

(3) they make users scroll;

(4) menus and texts printed on photos and videos are unreadable (see examples above);

(5) photos and videos increase page load times for no good reason.

It can be recommended to the author to read some basic books on human perception, usability and conversion before writing articles like this.

Anyway, thanks for adding several more examples to my “design idiocy” collection…

almost 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jules PleasecallmeMister !, Director at Nito

I'm with Ivan in this.

Visiting AirBnB and Land Rover - my first reaction ???
Scroll down to get rid of the annoying motion.

Are you not aware of the widespread resentment towards auto-carousels - or inpage movie-ads?
In short -ANYTHIING moving is a distraction to the ability of MOST people to absorb content - and decide whether - or how to proceed.

There is nothing inherently wrong with a video - as long as the User clicks to start.

And while I'm here....
Just because visitors do scroll - doesn't mean that they want to scroll.

AirBnB recently re-designed - and the UX is AWFUL.
Enforced scrolling and minimal navigation (or is it hidden??)
Large photo-panels with place names.
A HUGE screen-filler with "BELONG ANYWHERE". (What value does this add ????)

Land Rover's includes an annoying side slider. - obscuring content.
What do the site-owners think they are doing allowing such features?

about 1 year ago

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