There is a promo page that sells some app or game. It has a grid of thumbnails, click on which shows videos about an app. Something like this:

enter image description here

After user clicks on thumbnail, modal (lightbox) appears with YouTube video in it and starts playing immediately:

enter image description here

If user clicks on "Close" icon, or grey area behind modal - it closes.

Now, here is what user does:

  1. User clicks on thumbnail and watches video for some time.
  2. User closes the modal (lightbox), we do not know if it was intentional or accidental.
  3. User clicks on the same thumbnail

So the question is: should the video start from the beginning or from the moment the user closed the modal on the first time? Will your answer change if the user refreshes the page between step #2 and #3?

  • 1
    YouTube does automatically continue where you left off on videos longer videos (20 minutes?). In shorter videos it does not matter. I have no idea if it works in embedded youtube videos though, thats why comment!
    – Mico
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 12:41
  • Some more context would help here. How long are the videos? Is the user likely to come back to a video after partly watching it? Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 13:22
  • @Mico, doesn't look like they do this for embedded videos.
    – Marvin3
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 13:45
  • @MattO'Keefe 3-10mins each, but this might change in future. It's quite unlikely that user will come back, but user might close the video accidentally.
    – Marvin3
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 13:45

4 Answers 4


If you're going to make the choice for the user, I'd suggest using "Resume" since it's much easier for the user to revert back to the start than it is for them to find their place in the video.

An alternative is to give the user the choice. For example for an unwatched video the option is "Play" and for a partly watched video you use both "Resume" and "Play from start" as the possible actions from the thumbnail.

This gives you the opportunity to use your analytics to measure how frequently each option is used. You can always drop one action in future based on the data.

  • 3
    Yes to giving the user a choice. Personally i would keep autoplay for unwatched videos, and add an additional step within the modal ([play] [resume]) for previously watched videos. Although for short sales videos, i cant imagine many people will be rewatching them anyway.
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 15:00
  • I like that solution. Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 15:12

Instinctively (I can't really provide any research to back this up) I'd say that when you close a modal the implication is that it's stopped existing, and when you open it again that's a new modal, rather than the same one that had been hidden all along - so based on that I think generally it'd feel more intuitive to start from the beginning again.

That said, I can think of use cases where this behaviour wouldn't be desirable - for example, if the YouTube videos were 40-minute training videos then having a record of the user's progress could be preferable.


I think we cannot give you a valid answer because we don't know why the user has opened the video for second time? What brought him back to view it again? If you can understand that you will definitely know what to do.

It depends also on the contents and length of the video. Is the video showing some guide on how to play or is it just showcase of game features?

  • If its only 30 sec showcase it would be better to start the video from the begging.
  • If its long 10 min guide better start -10 seconds from where the user has closed the video.

It also could be a bug and that is why they are refreshing. The best way is to try to find answers to the question is by researching why they reopen the video.


I prefer the option when the video starts from beginning and have an alert box before (not modal, just a section) with a button for "Resume".

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