Does anyone know of any quantitative studies that look at the effect of autoplaying videos on the user experience of a website (i.e. a page loads and—BOOM—a video + audio starts playing)? My UX senses tell me this is a bad experience for many users, and I know that many qualitative arguments have been made against the practice (like in this UX.StackExchange thread). What I need, though, is hard evidence of how autoplaying videos degrade user experience (or improve it—I'm willing to admit that I may be totally wrong).

So, anyone know of studies that offer such evidence? Peer-reviewed studies would be ideal, but any studies that have actual data to back up their assertions would work.

  • 1
    It's good to have hard evidence, but I think we sometimes distrust our own observations of the obvious. Or, rather, management does. ;)
    – DA01
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 15:13
  • @Niq See my new answer to the linked question, it gives examples of when auto-playing is a bad practice and when it might be OK. (ux.stackexchange.com/a/17966/687) Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 15:35

2 Answers 2


I can't find any hard evidence to back the theory up, but I suppose it would depend on context.

If it's a video site like youtube and the main focus is video then it makes sense to autoplay the video, as watching a video was the primary reason for opening the url.

If the sites focus is not video and autoplaying a video on the page is not required for the primary reason or use case of the site then I would say that autoplaying video would be a bad thing.

My reasoning behind this is mainly centred around users who are listening to music while browsing and users who open multiple tabs at once.

Also, if there are more than one video on the page which one do you autoplay? All of them? The first one?

It's a very interesting question though, and I hope someone links up some hard research behind this.


Try to meet your user's expectations when it matters.

  • There are circumstances when it's useful to play with your user's expectations - however, in my opinion, this isn't one of them:

    • If load a webpage in my browser, I expect to be able to view the page.
    • .. if when the page loads, a video starts to play automatically - my expectation is conflicted.
    • If the user is unable to accurately predict how their actions will influence the application, their experience will be negatively affected.

Provide your user with the control they require

  • There are many circumstances where a user would want to be able to control when a video plays:

    • .. the user is loading the page at work, and the audio track would provide disturbance.
    • .. the user wants to play the video to a group of people and wants to wait until everyone is assembled.

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