Announcing Vulcan: Our Redesigned Video Player that Puts Your Viewers First
June 14, 2016
The player isn’t just a pretty container for your video. It’s responsible for delivering your message.
At Wistia, we take that responsibility seriously. We realize that every interaction with your brand contributes to how your audience perceives you. A video that takes too long to play, buffers in the middle, or doesn’t give the viewer any options won’t hold your audience’s attention for long. It also won’t make a good impression.
That’s why we’re really excited to announce Vulcan, the brand new Wistia player! It was built from the ground up on HTML5 with brand new controls and a minimal, modern look to impress your viewers, even before they press play.
On the surface
We’ve made some visual enhancements to the player that don’t only look great, they give your viewers more options and drive engagement with your content.
New viewer controls
Part of creating a great experience for your viewers is giving them options to watch in a way that best suits them. To support this, we’ve added new playback speed controls and quality controls inside of the player, so viewers can select the playback speed that works best for them. By increasing the speed on your videos, viewers can get through longer videos quickly and better engage with your content.
As 4K becomes more popular for its additional detail and clarity, viewers will have the option of watching videos in 4K. You can adjust the quality of your videos from within the player controls, instead of having to right-click on the video. All of those Ultra HD videos you’ve been creating will look their best in Vulcan.
We also made it easier for viewers to identify the parts of your video that are most important to them. The new thumbnail preview provides individual frames of your video along the play bar to help viewers find what they’re looking for.
Social sharing continues to be the driving force behind video content distribution. When your viewers love what they see, and we’re sure they will, we want to make it easy for them to share with a friend. With new social sharing options right inside of the player, your viewers don’t need to leave the video to spread the word.
Including a video on a page is likely to increase the amount of time a visitor spends there. To grab their attention and encourage click-through, your video thumbnail should be eye-catching and compelling. Along with Vulcan, we’re releasing retina thumbnail support. Wistia players will now include thumbnails up to 4k resolution, which means they look great on any high-pixel density or retina display.
Under the hood
Vulcan’s beauty is more than skin deep. We’ve done work underneath all of the external changes to make sure your videos don’t only look their best — they perform better too.
Embeds built for speed and flexibility
When you’re trying to get the attention of your visitors, every second counts. We optimized Vulcan for speed by reworking our embed codes to load twice as fast.
As website traffic from mobile devices begins to outpace desktop, marketers have started to design the website experience for those visitors. When you embed our player, it scales with the responsive design of your site.
Our new player design will also keep the player controls out of the way on smaller screens, so your message remains unobstructed. This enables your viewers to see your videos on any screen size without any page distortion.
At Wistia, we’re passionate about making video accessible for everyone. That’s why we’re proud of the accessibility updates we’ve made with this new player. Vulcan is now fully compatible with screen readers. Now, all users can use keyboard shortcuts, like tabbing, to control the player. This is an exciting step for us, and we’ll continue to add accessibility features to the Wistia player over the next year.
Adaptive streaming with HTML5
For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when the term “Flash” is mentioned are showy, graphics-heavy websites. What you may not have known is that Flash is also used to deliver video content.
Since Google announced that Chrome won’t be supporting Flash much longer, its time has passed. Vulcan is our first HTML5-only player; we’re leaving the Flash player behind. This means your videos will continue to load and play smoothly on your site, even after Google officially ends Flash support.
We also improved video startup times, mobile support, and adaptive streaming experience with HLS. The HLS format allows our player to monitor your viewers’ connection speed in real time and adjust the quality of the video they’re being served as their connection changes.
These changes benefit the delivery of your videos no matter how long they are and help prevent annoying buffering. HLS is the preferred format on iOS, so we’re in good company by adopting this format for your content.
One of our favorite things about Vulcan is that its development wouldn’t have been possible without feedback from all of you. Our Betapugs tested features along the way and gave us valuable feedback that led to the player we have today. You can turn on Vulcan now by heading to Account Settings to switch over all of your videos to the new player with one click.
With more and more companies incorporating video into their marketing and customer communication, the quality of the experience that you provide will be a key differentiator in growing and retaining your business.
Video interaction will continue to be a valuable part of building a relationship with your audience. Providing the best video player and playback for any device type, network speed, or screen resolution will always be top priority for us. We’re going to continue to make improvements to our tools so that you can stand out among your peers and give your video content the home it deserves.