Web Conferencing vs. Video Conferencing: What’s the Difference?

by in Features, Lifesize, Products, Technology, Trends, Unified Communications

As technology evolves and expands, so it goes with our technical lexicon and business speak. Which is why it's often good to take a step back, and apply some practical thinking around the appropriate use of terms today. 

Looking at the opposing conferencing solutions in the title of this post, web conferencing and video conferencing could be seen as the same thing. Or as evolutions of sophistication of the other. But which one comes first? And more importantly, which solution should you be looking for for your organization.

Lifesize shares how web conferencing and video conferencing are different from each other.

What’s the difference between web vs. video conferencing?

There are some notable differences between web conferencing and video conferencing to take into account when looking for the right systems and software to meet your needs. Web conferencing is an online event based on one-way audio or video communication, where the entrance point is a web browser and a link to an event. Video conferencing, on the other hand, connects two or more locations via webcam for interactive meetings, and can work with or without an internet connection.

Web conferencing

Web conferencing was designed as an upgraded audio bridge with pictures. It made it possible to share presentations with participants located around the globe, and its features (like recording and presenter video) are great for the dissemination of information from few to many. While web conferencing can still be used for smaller meetings, it does lack the nimbleness that today’s savvy user has come to expect with collaboration tools.

Video conferencing

Video conferencing is intentionally designed around collaboration by giving everyone facetime at the meeting. In a survey we conducted with our user base, 89% of remote employees noted that video helps them feel more connected to their colleagues. Thanks to video conferencing, teams can join in with other conference rooms and remote users on laptops, tablets, and mobile devices for online meetings with maximum reach.

What is web conferencing best used for?

Web conferencing is best used for sharing information that doesn’t call for collaboration, such as webcasts, online courses, or quarterly updates. With web conferencing, companies can combine the advantages of a phone conversation with a live video feed to effectively communicate strategies, instructions, or other pertinent materials.

Smaller meetings

Web conferencing often involves a smaller group of participants, and can be beneficial when those participants are located in different places. Web conferencing is a great way to connect via computer or mobile device when fostering collaboration is not a priority. In times when you need to deliver a large volume of information to a smaller number of attendees (like a classroom or boardroom setting), web conferencing would make a good fit.

Hosting an impromptu meeting

Impromptu meetings are a quick way to initiate a web conference, as they don’t require set scheduling or prolonged preparation. These meetings typically involve fewer participants, which is why web conferencing is the preferred method for such events. Hosting an impromptu meeting is an opportunity to share thoughts on any number of topics, and may be especially helpful with issues or announcements that are time-sensitive.

Delivering one-way information like webinars

Web conferencing is often used to facilitate presentations and implement distance learning, as is true with webinars. Webinars are a solid option for online meetings and events that do not need live feedback, since they’re set up to support one-way communication. In general, webinars are less collaborative and more informative in nature, but may be useful for businesses who are looking to broadcast a single speaker to a remote audience.

What is video conferencing best used for?

Video conferencing is best for businesses who prioritize engagement, and who want to have real-time conversations to learn from their team’s input and ideas. Video conferencing software takes the traditional voice-only conference call and creates a more connected and productive experience for everyone involved.

Collaborative meetings

A terrific advantage of video conferencing is the ability for participants to make eye contact and respond to each other’s body language, rather than simply relying on voice or online messaging. This visual component makes it easier for all attendees to get involved in the meeting, rather than losing focus or becoming distracted by something. By supporting two-way communication, video conferencing likewise enhances collaboration and workflow among teams, as well.

Remote screen sharing

Remote screen sharing makes virtual collaboration a breeze, by eliminating the need to print documents or send files to fellow participants. Screen sharing allows attendees to share information from any program or file on their computer, including web browsers, images or videos, and interactive interfaces. Given its versatility and simplicity of use, screen sharing is a practical and purposeful tool your team can utilize during any video conference.

High-quality video conferencing

With high-quality video conferencing, users can create their own large-scale conferences with hundreds (or thousands) of attendees, all without the cost to travel. When it comes to hosting a business meeting, corporate discussion, or seminar with live feedback, video conferencing systems are the superior choice. Video conferencing incorporates numerous interactive elements and software integrations, as well as having an obvious leg up in image resolution.

Meeting reliability

The best conferencing software ties together a few key components, like scheduling integrations, HD audio and video, recording and cloud storage, and improved security. When video conferencing combines these features in a navigable, easy-to-use package, the possibilities are endless to what you can achieve. A simple, cloud-based system with user-friendly tools will boost meeting reliability and increase productivity at every level.

Which option is best for you?

When comparing web conferencing vs. video conferencing, the differences are quite clear; if collaboration is critical to the success of your meeting, you’ll definitely want the high-definition image and audio quality that only video conferencing can provide. Our words convey just a fraction of our full message, which is why collaborative solutions are so necessary for video meetings and face-to-face communications.

With innovations like screen sharing, a centralized admin console, directory-based calling, the ability to stream and record your meetings, and a series of high-quality video conference room systems, Lifesize provides a premium solution for all the different ways people meet -- regardless of device, location, or even language. Click here for a more in-depth look at the award-winning, cloud-based conferencing software available from Lifesize.