I started thinking about autoplay videos last night, after I had closed my laptop for the night. I remembered something else I wanted to do after brushing my teeth, so I came back to reopen the laptop. A video I had in the background started playing, but I couldn’t turn the sound down or get to it while the laptop is still waking up. That level of annoyance made me just close the window when I finally could, never to watch the video again.

Autoplay Video

That got me wondering — I can’t be the only one who hates autoplay video, right? And what does autoplay do to the usability of your website? To help you with those questions, I present to you three reasons why you should avoid autoplay video.

1. Many People Hate It, and Feel It Is Disrespectful

What I discovered through a bit of research is that I’m not alone in this sort of thinking. I looked around the internet and asked some friends, and the comments were pretty universal:

Hate it. autoplay anything, and I’m outta there.

It’s annoying, and sometimes my audio is set very loud, which makes it worse. I am often on the computer in a room with other people or in situations where I need to be quiet, so having a video just start playing unexpectedly is awful.

Dislike them. In fact, I usually click away if a video starts playing without me pushing start.

I’m super sound sensitive and I usually have a physical reaction….and you can guarantee I’m going to click the big x.

If I see a video on auto-play I leave immediately. I consider that to be an attempt to control me.

I usually have a ton of tabs open, and can’t always get to stuff until later. When I reopen all of my tabs, all the ones on auto-play all start playing at once.

Is this really the way you want your viewers to feel about you and your business?

2. You Might Embarrass Your Viewers, or Get Them Into Trouble

If your videos are about a sensitive topic, I doubt your viewer wants them autoplaying at full volume. Just imagine being in a public place and suddenly a video about fungal itching starts playing at full blast.

For many of my clients, they are either people considering leaving their jobs for entrepreneurship or they work with people about to leave the workforce. People in those situations generally wouldn’t want your videos to start autoplaying while they are researching you on a break (or on company time).

3. The Conversion Rate is Unclear

I have seen people boast about their conversion rates with autoplay videos, but they are not looking at the whole picture. Are these autoplay videos also increasing your bounce rate? Sometimes it is hard to tell what the effect on the bounce rate is, as the video will start playing before the tracking script loads, thereby causing people to close the window before their hit is counted.

If You ABSOLUTELY MUST Use Autoplay…

Okay fine, if you read this whole thing and you still insist on using it, then you could at least follow these tips to lessen the blow:

  1. Don’t remove the timer and controls from the video. This seems to be the worse offense of the autoplay video, and it just makes people angry.
  2. Include dead time on the beginning of the video, such as 3-5 seconds of quiet to let the rest of the page load. If the page is fully loaded, at least they can stop the video with the controls if need be.
  3. Consider mobile devices by testing the controls on both desktop and mobile, and by not using flash technology. (Most modern video servers like YouTube and Vimeo will have non-flash options but that is not the same for older video players.)
  4. Only have the video autoplay once, when the visitor first arrives, so that it won’t start replaying every time the user’s computer comes out of sleep mode.
  5. Warn people. For example, use a link like “click here to see my video” so no one is surprised.
  6. Consider where you are using it. Autoplay video has been shown to be unhelpful on websites, articles, posts, and e-mail — but useful on landing pages and sales pages.

What do you say?

Autoplay: Love it, hate it, meh? Share in the comments below!

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