To auto-play or not to auto -play video?

23 Sep 2008 - 11:50am
5 years ago
12 replies
3514 reads
Randy Harbin
2008

All.
I have a request from the client to auto-play a video on load for a given
page. The page contains the video prominently at the top and has significant
additional information below. Our internal discussion is that the user needs
to take an inventory of the content of the page and would miss the 1st part
of the video if it auto played. I also suspect that auto play on a page that
has additional content is an unexpected action. Conversely I believe if the
video were the only content on the page it would be OK to auto-play.
Opinions, strategy and rationale either way requested.

Thanks,
Randy

Comments

23 Sep 2008 - 12:57pm
ceciliacase
2007

I have found that the line seems to whether the video is embedded or
not. For example, when I go directly to youtube and click on a video
there, it starts automatically. If the youtube video is embedded in a
blog, it does not start until you click it. I think there are three
good reasons for this:

One is, as you mentioned, there is content to read, which may
influence the user's decision to watch the video.

Second, there may be many videos on the blog, and the user does not
want them all to start at the same time.

Third, when going to YouTube the user knows that they are going to
get a video, so clicking on the link is a tacit decision to watch the
video. If I go to a blog, the user may not expect to get a video, and
it would be interruptive to have it play without a decision being
made on the user's part.

That said, I think it comes down to how important the video content
is. If it is sort of "ambient" AND it is the only video on the
page, then it probably doesn't matter if it starts automatically.
But if it contains important information, then you probably want the
user to direct the action.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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23 Sep 2008 - 2:01pm
netwiz
2010

On Tue, 23 Sep 2008 12:50:11 -0400, Randy wrote:

>I have a request from the client to auto-play a video on load for a given
>page. The page contains the video prominently at the top and has significant
>additional information below. Our internal discussion is that the user needs
>to take an inventory of the content of the page and would miss the 1st part
>of the video if it auto played. I also suspect that auto play on a page that
>has additional content is an unexpected action. Conversely I believe if the
>video were the only content on the page it would be OK to auto-play.
>Opinions, strategy and rationale either way requested.

Randy, this is personal opinion - I've not done any research.

I think that it might depend on the audience, and the purpose of the
page -can you tell us more?

In general though, if the user has clicked a link that implies 'watch
video' it might be OK. If the video is core to the topic, it might be
OK. If the other content on the page isn't related to the video, I
wouldn't like it.

I think it's an independent decision whether to start with the audio
also. Some sites start the video so you see it, but you have to turn
the sound on. Auto-playing sound when people don't expect it is
usually not a good idea, as it can be disruptive in the environment of
the user (office / background recording / blind user etc).

* Nick Gassman - Usability and Standards Manager - http://ba.com *

23 Sep 2008 - 2:25pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Sep 23, 2008, at 3:01 PM, Nick Gassman wrote:

> I think that it might depend on the audience, and the purpose of the
> page -can you tell us more?

It totally depends.

We've done a significant amount of testing on sites that have video
content and one of the key factors we've found is place of access. If
a person is at work, they prefer not to have it auto-play, since they
don't want their boss to know they're watching videos on his dime.

For home access, we've not found this to be an issue.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

23 Sep 2008 - 12:44pm
baruag
2007

Here are my views on your dilemma:

Auto play: I agree with you that if the video was the only content on
the page, it would have made sense to autoplay.

Triggered play: Not everyone likes to arrive at a page and be
surprised by a video playing on screen... more importantly.. if the
user has been surfing non-rich media content for a while he has also
forgotten what the volume his notebook/pc speakers is. Sometimes when
a video autoplays it causes the user to be startled as he might be in
a cafe/library/office, and does not want to attract too much
attention.

Therefore I think you should convince the client that it might not
create the best user experience to have the video in autoplay mode.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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23 Sep 2008 - 3:05pm
Sachin Ghodke
2008

A simple solution: don't want the user to loose relevant data? and
yet want to auto play then put something creatively insignificant at
the beginning of the video. And if the video is the only content on
the website then the usage of creativity to include something not so
important at the beginning of the video would just work fine too.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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23 Sep 2008 - 3:29pm
Chris Maissan -...
2007

I've seen examples where the video begins to play automatically but is muted
until the user clicks the video.

Chris

On Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 1:44 PM, Gaurabh Mathure <gaurabh at desolve.co.in>wrote:

> Here are my views on your dilemma:
>
> Auto play: I agree with you that if the video was the only content on
> the page, it would have made sense to autoplay.
>
> Triggered play: Not everyone likes to arrive at a page and be
> surprised by a video playing on screen... more importantly.. if the
> user has been surfing non-rich media content for a while he has also
> forgotten what the volume his notebook/pc speakers is. Sometimes when
> a video autoplays it causes the user to be startled as he might be in
> a cafe/library/office, and does not want to attract too much
> attention.
>
> Therefore I think you should convince the client that it might not
> create the best user experience to have the video in autoplay mode.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33377
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

23 Sep 2008 - 3:52pm
gjhead
2007

I would ask if the user knows in advance that the page they are
advancing to has a video on it. Are they expecting a video when they
get there - and is it the primary content?

The first example that came to mind to me is ESPN.com. I visit the
site daily as a *user* (i/e I leave my developer hat off when I get
there). They have a video box on their main page that *always*
starts automatically - and I absolutely hate it. Reasons being -
I'm busy reading whats new on the front page and the video is
*always* a distraction.

The example above of Youtube, is an interesting idea. When clicking
on a link, I expect it to play when I get there - so It's not that
annoying.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33377

23 Sep 2008 - 3:24pm
Randy Harbin
2008

More information:
The page is question is a content page for a particular in car
information service. The video gives an overview of that service a
describes it's value. It talks about its features and benfits to the
user. The video is not embedded from anywhere. The rest of the content
on the page is supplemental information, copy, diagrams etc. The
video is the main focus. Users may click on a link that says "watch
the service video" , or also to "learn more about this service"
etc.. I suppose i could pass a variable from those links to determine
auto-play vs not.

In this instance I don't think it would be appropriate to start the
video without audio.

-Randy

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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23 Sep 2008 - 6:24pm
Andy Edmonds
2004

We did extensive testing in an intensely competitive, and highly
deliberated e-com scenario, myWeddingFavors.com.

The winning solution for short product videos had a dramatic impact on
overall conversion, but several of the intervening steps had a negative
impact. Due to the prominence of the player on the page, essentially
replacing the product image, any load time lag for the video player was
detrimental. We use javascript to swap out the player once it's loaded,

Autoplay also proved unsuccessful, though perhaps not for the reasons
you might expect. Average time on product pages is less than the 45
second duration of the videos. With autoplay, we wasted valuable
shopping time on products the user wasn't especially interested in...
Click to play with minimal lag resulted in a lower cart abandonment and
dramatically improved conversion.

Read more:
http://alwaysbetesting.com/abtest/index.cfm/2008/8/1/Product-Video-Boosts-Conversion-Dramatically-at-MyWeddingFavorscom

Watch a video: http://www.myweddingfavors.com/peralized-photo-coasters.html
(note, no audio track)

-Andy

Randy Harbin wrote:
> All.
> I have a request from the client to auto-play a video on load for a given
> page. The page contains the video prominently at the top and has significant
> additional information below.

23 Sep 2008 - 6:41pm
SemanticWill
2007

Hmmm. Here is a test case of one.

I always, guarenteed, leave a site as soon as a video auto-plays without my
consent. And I never go back.

Why? 90% of the time, I work, surf, write with my headphones on, with the
music playing. Autoplay overides what I am listening to, usually at a volume
much more than my music, and in somecases have literally cause pain in my
ears - that is why I will never go to MySpace - ever.

Just sayin.

On Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 12:50 PM, Randy Harbin <randy.harbin at gmail.com>wrote:

> All.
> I have a request from the client to auto-play a video on load for a given
> page. The page contains the video prominently at the top and has
> significant
> additional information below. Our internal discussion is that the user
> needs
> to take an inventory of the content of the page and would miss the 1st part
> of the video if it auto played. I also suspect that auto play on a page
> that
> has additional content is an unexpected action. Conversely I believe if the
> video were the only content on the page it would be OK to auto-play.
> Opinions, strategy and rationale either way requested.
>
> Thanks,
> Randy
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.128 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

23 Sep 2008 - 9:46pm
Jeff Seager
2007

I always err on the side of the user having full control of the
experience. Also, autoplay wastes bandwidth ANY time the sound or
video is unwanted. As Will's own experience tells us, it is often
unwanted when it isn't expected. I've done accessibility testing
with deaf users for whom sound is entirely a waste of time, and you
should see their faces when a website takes a minute to load and they
finally realize it's because of an unexpected sound file. Grrrrrrr.

My feelings are even stronger than Will's. I consider unwanted
content a form of assault. When it comes unbidden by me, it is
disturbing my peace and hogging bandwidth I might be using for
something I DID choose to experience. Multitasking is not merely
possible these days, it's increasingly likely, and we should be
mindful of reducing possible conflicts among simultaneous tasks.

Frankly, I have similar feelings about Flash and other dynamic
content. If I want a fully immersive experience, I'll go to an IMAX
movie. Keep that stuff off my desktop unless I ask for it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33377

23 Sep 2008 - 8:18pm
Tim Wright
2008

I totally agree - automatic movie (or sound) playing is quite intrusive most
of the time. I suspect it's OK when the user can predict it will happen
before they click on the link (like internal "related movies" type link on
youtube), but generally I'd avoid it and give users a chance to comprehend
the page layout first.
Tim
On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 11:41 AM, Will Evans <will at semanticfoundry.com>wrote:

> Hmmm. Here is a test case of one.
>
> I always, guarenteed, leave a site as soon as a video auto-plays without my
> consent. And I never go back.
>
> Why? 90% of the time, I work, surf, write with my headphones on, with the
> music playing. Autoplay overides what I am listening to, usually at a
> volume
> much more than my music, and in somecases have literally cause pain in my
> ears - that is why I will never go to MySpace - ever.
>
> Just sayin.
>
> On Tue, Sep 23, 2008 at 12:50 PM, Randy Harbin <randy.harbin at gmail.com
> >wrote:
>
> > All.
> > I have a request from the client to auto-play a video on load for a given
> > page. The page contains the video prominently at the top and has
> > significant
> > additional information below. Our internal discussion is that the user
> > needs
> > to take an inventory of the content of the page and would miss the 1st
> part
> > of the video if it auto played. I also suspect that auto play on a page
> > that
> > has additional content is an unexpected action. Conversely I believe if
> the
> > video were the only content on the page it would be OK to auto-play.
> > Opinions, strategy and rationale either way requested.
> >
> > Thanks,
> > Randy
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
>
>
>
> --
> ~ will
>
> "Where you innovate, how you innovate,
> and what you innovate are design problems"
>
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Will Evans | User Experience Architect
> tel: +1.617.281.128 | will at semanticfoundry.com
> aim: semanticwill | gtalk: wkevans4
> twitter: semanticwill | skype: semanticwill
>
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

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ai tiki tāua.

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