"If a picture is worth 1000 words then a video must be worth at least a 1001 words"-myself

Many phenominal user experiences and messages involve powerful videos. For example sonys this is how you share games on the ps4.

However users may be in a setting where it is unacceptable to play the video with the sound on (at work, in a library on the train etc)

What are good strategies to mitigate them from not receiving a missing experience?

  • Ie should you sum up the video after in a few setences?
  • Should you sum it up beforehand?
  • Should you put subtitles, should you put a link to a subtitle version?
  • Should you offer to email them a link to the video so they can watch it when they get home?

What are the best practices to make sure the user gets the as close to the full experience if they cant participate in the original experience with the sound of the video?

This thought as spawned when i saw a Ford Gt350 article and I coudnt hear the sound of the car which really made the experience however i forgot to look it up later and it would not have kept my interest had it not been for a friend insisting I watch/hear it again who originally sent me the webpage at a time when i could not view the video with sound.

2 Answers 2


This is a very interesting question and I really never thought about this. What I could say is that if I make a full audio visual experience, I want the user to enjoy it, thus I won't be happy until the user actually gets the site the way I intend to. While this is one of the reasons I never fully rely on video and I prefer written text, I acknowledge your scenario is more than possible, so here's what I would do: detect whether his/her device has sound, and if no sound, I'd use something like this

no sound warning

This way, I create a connection with the user, if he chooses to be reminded I already gained his trust and then I can include a more direct and targeted message for this user.

Just an idea and a quick mockup, of course, but now that you mention I think I'll start to include something of this sort every time the video becomes important in any site

  • +1 love the mockup the problem is detecting if his device has sound. He could have sound just not be able to use it at the current time. Ie almost every smartphone has sound but not everyone has a set of earbuds nor can they put them in to listen if they browse the video during an all hands meeting while they are sitting in the back (or some other situation where using the sound is frowned upon, is you work a library and don't have headphones). Jun 22, 2015 at 23:49
  • well, obviously the text could differ, the idea is to communicate this: "if you for any specific reason can't hear this video, then add your mail to be reminded at a later time." As a matter of fact, I have found another caveat: the user has sound and s/he's convinced he has sound, but it's really low and can't hear it. So maybe the whole approach would be to detect sound. If too low or no sound, then tell the user something like "Blast your sound!!!!" and then "if you can't hear this at full volume, include your mail yadda yadda yadda"
    – Devin
    Jun 22, 2015 at 23:57

In the Sony example you shared the video is on youtube itself and I think users who are visiting youtube expect that having the sound on is part of the experience.

In situations where the content is embedded in a webpage that isn't video focused you could try a few of the options you've suggested above however I would sometimes avoid summarizing the video content in the video before or after, this would be quite unconventional and would just appear odd to the users who do have the sound on.

However(!)...this is all very context and content specific. If you are producing educational or instructive videos it's quite normal to outline what is going to be discussed in written form at the beginning and summarising it at the end. If you're making an advert though it would be odd.

Having the option of subtitles is almost always a good idea - even if everyone had sound available on their devices you'd still then cater for those with hearing problems as well.

Also some kind of call to action suggesting you share the content with them via email is not a terrible idea so yeah you could do that.

One other thing to remember is that most videos will come with a title or description and the clearer this is the better idea you'd have whether or not sound was fundamental to the experience. If it's clear I'm opening a music video I won't expect the full experience with the sound off but perhaps if it is a video titled 'The beautiful landscapes of Iceland' I'd feel okay with pressing play with the sound off and expect to not miss the primary thing the video wants to communicate to me.


  • I think generally there is an acceptance that video is a visual and auditory experience so people know better than to hit play and expect to get the full picture with the sound off.
  • Subtitles are important for those with hearing issues and could be used by others wishing to consume content whilst the sound is off so do include them if possible.
  • Label/Title content clearly and appropriately.

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