If you haven't already grew a distaste towards website videos on autoplay, then you most likely haven't encountered one yet. After all, many modern day mobile devices have been designed to entirely ignore the autoplay function as a step towards creating better user experiences. It also doesn't come as a major surprise then that Apple made a decision to disable the automatic playing of videos on all iOS devices.
So why all the hate towards video autoplay? Hasn't our society fallen head over heels for everything and anything automatic by now?
Well the answer is "no".
While a vast majority continues to follow in trend and enjoy things being automatically executed, some of us still prefer manual work - one of which involves having agency when it comes to viewing videos.
In this article, I will explain the problems of video autoplay as well as exceptions in which this function can be used.
There is a reason why designers and developers describe videos on autoplay as a user experience nightmare.
Just think about it for a moment here - imagine being on your mobile phone listening to your favorite tune while visiting a website that contains a video automatically playing. Because sounds from the video unexpectedly overrides or conflicts with other sounds you are currently listening to, your first instinct would most likely involve closing out of this tab ASAP, leaving the site completely.
Such interruptions affect desktop users as well. Think about how frustrating and distracting it is to have a video automatically playing upon opening a site in a quiet area.
Autoplay is a terrible idea not only for accessibility but also for usability purposes. It's disrupting to a user's experience, whether on a mobile or desktop site leading to high bounce rates or, at worst, unusable websites.
Videos on autoplay can hurt, rather than help lead/traffic generation.
#2. Credible Sources Do Not Recommend Autoplaying Videos
If the big names say so, you better believe so. According to credible sources such as Vimeo, their autoplay function does not play on mobile devices for reasons stated above as well as for the sanity of user browsing.
Different OS developers have also deliberately disabled autoplay on mobile devices to protect user’s bandwidth. Because many data providers charge based on the amount of data consumed, OS developers have decided it was in the best interest of the user to not have a video automatically playing when a site loads as this can seriously rack up data charges.
Instead mobile web videos are only initiated when manually clicked on. This is also applicable to users of Android Version 4.1+ to prevent unsolicited cellular download.
Autoplay is a "no-no" because it is...
- intrusive to mobile and desktop users currently listening to music or browsing the web in a quiet area
- perceived as aggressive and possibly obnoxious to users. Anything pushed on users can cause irritation and suspicion of the products or services you are offering.
- a cause for high bounce rates
- bad for lead/traffic generation
- not recommended by credible sources such as Vimeo, OS developers and Android Versions 4.1+
When is it okay to autoplay videos?
Alright, now that we have combed through all the problems of having videos that autoplay on your website, let's talk about when it is an exception to use this feature, given it is a must-have.
Only use autoplay if...
- the video you want autoplayed is 5 seconds or less in length
- there is a clear pause or stop button on the video
- there is a warning before users land on the page where the video resides