Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Does anyone have any evidence or could point me in the direction of a web page that explains why video and audio autoplay is bad practice. I know it is but i'm struggling to find anything to back this up.

share|improve this question
    
What exactly will be autoplayed? Will it be an embedded video among other attractions (embedding Youtube video on your personal site). Or will it be a video that is the only video on the page and is the main attraction on that page (directly visiting a Youtube page)?. Obviously the former should not be autoplayed and the latter should. People go to Youtube to watch videos, not to read the title/description/comments and then decide to watch the video. –  JoJo Apr 15 '11 at 20:16

5 Answers 5

I can give a few points from my own experience why auto-playing videos/sound can be a bad practice and how decide when to auto-play without these points being an issue...

  1. If the user has a slow connection (or busy connection) then the video keeps freezing - no time to cache it prior to playing.
    (Can be fixed by auto-playing only when caching is complete.)

  2. If user opens up multiple tabs/windows from search results, then they all start playing together instead of only active tab/window.
    (Can be fixed by auto-playing only if tab is in focus.)

  3. If the video isn't expected (e.g. an advert or product demo, not intentional opening of youtube), then sudden playback of sound is very annoying.
    (Relevant only to non-requested videos/sounds.)

To summarize things up; if you auto-play only requested, fully cached videos when video is in focus, then it might not be a bad practice.

share|improve this answer

I wish there was an official document published by some large consulting firm that one could present that simply stated "Annoying your users is a bad idea". I could use that type of documentation in SO many situations.

share|improve this answer
    
I know they're dirty words, but both Gartner and Forrester have some interesting UX reports, and they're not actually terrible. alacrastore.com/research/…. We've used it where I work, as exec types love those types of reports and trust them (even though they're usually terrible). –  Alastair J Dec 11 '10 at 12:49

If you have a couple of hours to invest, this isn't hard to test for yourself. Just find a few "users" (3 at least, 5 would be fine) and ask them to perform some tasks on a website with autoplay (maybe the site you are working on, if that's the case). After the test, ask them for their general impressions. I bet they will mention the music/video autoplay, and not with a positive note.

share|improve this answer
    
Agreed. Did the same myself, and most were surprised by the autoplay. That's why we test :) –  Alastair J Dec 11 '10 at 12:45
    
DiD they like it or not? –  JeroenEijkhof Feb 29 '12 at 18:36

Video autoplay is not great if you are a screenreader user. Imagine you open up a new page with a video of Aqua's 'Barbie Girl' and you need to listen to the page in order to navigate your way to the controls of the video but can't hear the screenreader because Barbie Girl is blasting out in the background.

Robin Christopherson from AbilityNet gave a demo of this once and it really illustrated how bad autoplay can be for accessibility.

share|improve this answer
    
The number of people using screenreaders is small. If your video site is catered for people using screenreaders, then by all means, don't autoplay the video. On the other hand, if you want your site enjoyable for the 99% of web surfers, then you'll have to ask those people what they want - to autoplay or not to autoplay - that is the question! –  JoJo Apr 15 '11 at 20:20

This is the best article that I'm aware of on this topic: http://www.punkchip.com/2009/04/autoplay-is-bad-for-all-users/

share|improve this answer
2  
PS - Note that the article includes citation of WCAG 2.0 guidelines regarding autoplay of sound (and by implication video), which is surely the most authoritative source of ammunition to help your argument, but the article itself is probably still the best overall refutation. –  MarcusT Jun 24 '10 at 10:36
    
Thanks, this is really useful. –  Lisa Jun 24 '10 at 20:01
    
You're welcome! Incidentally, I notice you haven't yet marked any of the answers on this page as the "best answer" - please do if you feel that your question has been adequately answered, it's integral to how this site/community works... –  MarcusT Jul 9 '10 at 10:58
1  
Thanks Marcus -- that's a really useful link. I recently came up against this issue, and asked a few users what they expected. The result was that the video "should have a round play button in the middle of the video". One user commented "I might want to put in some headphones so as not to disturb other users", which I thought was UX testing gold :) –  Alastair J Dec 11 '10 at 12:44

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.