Many websites that embed videos now seem to follow the trend of automatically playing them. I believe that facebook is one of these types of websites, but it is probably the exception rather than the norm. There have been other questions around whether this is a good UX practice, but I want to explore the question for what the best strategy is.

I think some of the issues involved are:

  • Type of website - whether it is video-centric like Youtube or mostly text/graphics based
  • Nature of video - whether it is advertising or content
  • Mode of play - automatic, timed delay, manual
  • Speed of connection - mobile data network or direct ADSL connection

Is the case where a video-centric website showing content on video using automatic play mode the optimal user experience strategy? Should other websites that do not conform to these parameters seek an alternate strategy in the interest of better use experience?

  • The YouTube.com website doesn't auto play. Nothing autoplays until the visitor chooses to access a specific piece of content - ie opening a link to a specific video. – JonW Aug 27 '14 at 23:47
  • Thanks for the correction. I have changed the question to remove the reference to YouTube.com. – Michael Lai Aug 28 '14 at 0:36

In my opinion, Youtube, Vimeo etc are exceptions to the rule. If it's a video site, autoplay is acceptable. However, if it's an embedded video on a non-video based site, autoplay is a bad idea.

I absolutely hate when videos autoplay. Especially when I have my speakers turned up from some other video that had poor audio quality. It's jolting.

If the video looks interesting, I'll watch it. I don't need it to autoplay.

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  • +1 for Youtube, Vimeo etc are exceptions to the rule. If it's a video site, autoplay is acceptable. – Vikram Deshmukh Aug 28 '14 at 10:53

Videos overcome everything else on a webpage. You can either read content, or watch a video at a time. Also, many times before I play a video, I grab my headphones and plug them in. So surely from a user's perspective, videos shouldn't auto-play. Background videos without sound seem to be okay, without considering how good or bad having them is.

Sydney Morning Herald does delayed auto-play. While the video is related to the content, its immensely distracting. I start to read an article, and then the sounds from the video (playing at the top of the page and not even in the viewport) always make me frantically find the stop button.

I find videos interesting when the write-up builds up the story and creates a reason for me to watch them.

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As a user of the websites, I would not prefer videos getting autoplayed as and when I scroll to that frame. It's really annoying in cases e.g. You are at home having your speakers turned on, or at office where accidentally your laptop speakers are unmuted.

Many news websites start autoplay of the news hour stuff as soon as you load the page. Some of the sites do autoplay of ads also. This is unacceptable in case of limited data availability to the user(in case he is using prepaid data cards with a data limit).

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  • 1
    Good point about the data availability and also interruption to what you are doing whether it is at home or work. – Michael Lai Aug 28 '14 at 6:22

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