Based on our ACTUAL research and testing

We recently developed a site for a client and her request was that her site deploy a video header using a YouTube video (or a native video.) She wanted the video to stand alone, with no slider text or buttons on it. She wanted an easy to customize video header, too, nothing too complex for a client to create. You would think this is an easy find, but we found surprisingly few video-enabled themes that were both fast loading and supported video headers that weren’t in the background.

We started with some themes that we have used often, including DFD Native framework. Native uses the Revolution Slider, which we have used in the past, but this proved far too complex for the client to learn. In addition, Native uses its own page builder, which, in our opinion is heavy and bloated, causing the site to run slowly. The client axed this option almost as soon as we showed it to her.

We then searched for themes that were video optimized and deployed quite a few of these, to discover that they had video backgroundheaders but were not suited for a video foreground header! 

We went back to a trusted theme library, from CPO Themes, one we’ve used before. They’re lightweight, have a few neat customizer tools built in, do not require their own builder (we are using the new WP Blocks Editor formerly Gutenberg editor.) And the tech support is excellent – they don’t provide a CSS style guide BUT they do respond within a day with the exact code you’ll need to customize whatever you ask about.

We ended up using the theme CPO Brilliance, turning off the existing header, and leaving off the built in slider. We then deployed the very easy to use Smart Slider3 – which has a very functional free version (we bought the paid version after testing it), and trained the client on how to use it.  

Our challenges with this search proved a few things:

The industry seems to be using background header video with content on top of it in a slider mode. This is fine, but if you want to have the video take center stage without copy, you’ll have to be creative. 

There are a number of themes that do not have a demo version. This is a problem because by the time we’d gotten through purchasing THREE themes (none of which worked for this client, all of which will take far too much time to ‘return’ to the vendors we bought them from, if we can do it at all), we realized we couldn’t waste any more time or money on themes that appeared awesome, but really were bloated, slow or too restrictive. 

There are a TON of sites that produce content that is just designed to harvest search results and provide little in the way of good information. If I had a dollar for every page that we searched that came up with a poorly-written list of themes that have a video header, I wouldn’t have to develop WordPress websites any longer. And further, while the developers might be non-native English speakers, if they’re producing it in English, it would be worth it to have it edited by a native English speaker. 

But we’ll also tell you that you’re going to do some customization of these themes (not quite to the level of requiring a child theme, but some customization and a few creative workarounds.

We don’t develop and sell themes, so we’re not trying to sell you one (unlike the rest of the search results on this subject.) We DO develop WordPress sites for clients, every day, we purchase a lot of themes and we know our stuff. We’re about as neutral as opinions get on the subject of video header WordPress themes. 

Our result was just what the client wanted, but it took some time to get there, and it wasn’t as simple as it could have been. Our efforts are your gain! We can save you time from having to evaluate three dozen themes on your own! 

But what we discovered was that using any standard WP themewith the video slider plugin Smart Slider3 made all of that not necessary! In fact, we used a theme that did NOT support video in the header (the client liked other things about it) and the Smart Slider worked great.

Our opinion is that if your WP theme has a customizable header that you can turn off, but you can put content on the home page that includes a shortcode for SmartSlider3, you’re well on your way to a really great video header option for WordPress. 

Within SmartSlider3, there’s a setting for a full width (x whatever height you’d like) slider. You can layer video, with text over it, or not, photos, buttons and layer just about anything you could think of in a crisp and modern interface. There’s a handy how-to video right in the slider customizer that makes learning easy.

In short, there are a lot of great tools for WordPress, including a ton of developer-friendly tools, but not very many client-friendly ones. This makes all the difference when we train and empower clients to manage their marketing on their own. Easy-to-use video header tools for WordPress benefit both the designer/developer AND the end client. Designers/developers put together sites faster and more profitably and clients are empowered to manage and maintain their marketing over time.