Auto Play: Need Research to Back Up Why It's Bad for User Experience

10 Sep 2010 - 2:47pm
3 years ago
13 replies
2177 reads
candiRSX
2010

I'm trying to teach the people at the small agency I work for that auto play is not advisable.  I need not only reasons why it's bad for users but also stats of how it can give them less than desirable numbers for analytics like bounce rate.  I've been able to find posts about why it's bad but I need more evidence. 

Thanks in advance.  I appreciate the help. 

Comments

10 Sep 2010 - 5:05pm
Hugh Griffith
2007

I would think this would be as simple as asking them if they like it! I would bet the majority does not. Rather than trying to find articles about why it's bad, look for ones that say it's good. (Or challenge them to find them.) I can't imagine there are many out there.

Or, try a quick poll with a group of strangers.

Good luck!

On Friday, September 10, 2010, candiRSX wrote: > I'm trying to teach the people at the small agency I work for that auto play is not advisable.  I need not only reasons why it's bad for users but also stats of how it can give them less than desirable numbers for analytics like bounce rate.  I've been able to find posts about why it's bad but I need more evidence. > > Thanks in advance.  I appreciate the help. > > (((

10 Sep 2010 - 5:05pm
Hugh Griffith
2007

I would think this would be as simple as asking them if they like it! I would bet the majority does not. Rather than trying to find articles about why it's bad, look for ones that say it's good. (Or challenge them to find them.) I can't imagine there are many out there.

Or, try a quick poll with a group of strangers.

Good luck!

On Friday, September 10, 2010, candiRSX wrote: > I'm trying to teach the people at the small agency I work for that auto play is not advisable.  I need not only reasons why it's bad for users but also stats of how it can give them less than desirable numbers for analytics like bounce rate.  I've been able to find posts about why it's bad but I need more evidence. > > Thanks in advance.  I appreciate the help. > > (((

10 Sep 2010 - 5:05pm
Hugh Griffith
2007

I would think this would be as simple as asking them if they like it! I would bet the majority does not. Rather than trying to find articles about why it's bad, look for ones that say it's good. (Or challenge them to find them.) I can't imagine there are many out there.

Or, try a quick poll with a group of strangers.

Good luck!

On Friday, September 10, 2010, candiRSX wrote: > I'm trying to teach the people at the small agency I work for that auto play is not advisable.  I need not only reasons why it's bad for users but also stats of how it can give them less than desirable numbers for analytics like bounce rate.  I've been able to find posts about why it's bad but I need more evidence. > > Thanks in advance.  I appreciate the help. > > (((

10 Sep 2010 - 8:05pm
Diana Wynne
2008

Well, even if they do like it, they may not be representative of customers or customer environments. I'm sure somebody likes those blaring billboards in Las Vegas too.
For example, full on video and audio can be great when you have an office, and you've chosen to watch it. And hellish on a floor of desks and cubes, or on a phone on the bus, where you're blasted by everyone else's choices.
Diana

On Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 3:52 PM, Hugh Griffith <hgriffith@vfs.com> wrote:

I would think this would be as simple as asking them if they like it!
I would bet the majority does not. Rather than trying to find articles
about why it's bad, look for ones that say it's good. (Or challenge
them to find them.) I can't imagine there are many out there.

Or, try a quick poll with a group of strangers.

Good luck!

On Friday, September 10, 2010, candiRSX wrote:
> I'm trying to teach the people at the small agency I work for that auto play is not advisable.  I need not only reasons why it's bad for users but also stats of how it can give them less than desirable numbers for analytics like bounce rate.  I've been able to find posts about why it's bad but I need more evidence.
>
> Thanks in advance.  I appreciate the help.
>
> (((

(((
10 Sep 2010 - 9:05pm
KejunXu
2010

IMHO, I don't think "trying to teach people" is a best attitude. Whether a design element work or not really depends on the context. I can cite some auto play feature in many websites that do work, such as hulu, surveymonkey, mailchimp; and I also experienced the failure in my own usability testing that participants felt lost and didn't know what happened with the auto play.

So it really depends on how you design and present it, context, audiences, and I would say maybe a good way might be to pull some users, even in your own organization to do a quick and dirty user testing with your prototype. Decision making on data is better than opinion.

Thanks,
Kejun

10 Sep 2010 - 5:05pm
Hugh Griffith
2007

I would think this would be as simple as asking them if they like it! I would bet the majority does not. Rather than trying to find articles about why it's bad, look for ones that say it's good. (Or challenge them to find them.) I can't imagine there are many out there.

Or, try a quick poll with a group of strangers.

Good luck!

On Friday, September 10, 2010, candiRSX wrote: > I'm trying to teach the people at the small agency I work for that auto play is not advisable.  I need not only reasons why it's bad for users but also stats of how it can give them less than desirable numbers for analytics like bounce rate.  I've been able to find posts about why it's bad but I need more evidence. > > Thanks in advance.  I appreciate the help. > > (((

10 Sep 2010 - 5:05pm
Hugh Griffith
2007

I would think this would be as simple as asking them if they like it! I would bet the majority does not. Rather than trying to find articles about why it's bad, look for ones that say it's good. (Or challenge them to find them.) I can't imagine there are many out there.

Or, try a quick poll with a group of strangers.

Good luck!

On Friday, September 10, 2010, candiRSX wrote: > I'm trying to teach the people at the small agency I work for that auto play is not advisable.  I need not only reasons why it's bad for users but also stats of how it can give them less than desirable numbers for analytics like bounce rate.  I've been able to find posts about why it's bad but I need more evidence. > > Thanks in advance.  I appreciate the help. > > (((

11 Sep 2010 - 10:42am
penguinstorm
2005

Could you (or an admin) maybe delete on of the seven identical responses on this thread? It makes it very hard to read.

11 Sep 2010 - 8:30am
aronoff
2010

I would agree with Hugh. 

Ask them if they like it, and ask other questions of them, to gauge whether or not their a part of the audience that you're designing for. I've found a lot of times, that I've thought one thing about an interaction or a subject, and then when I've asked people, they've told me very valid reasons why they think the exact opposite.

It's all about context, your audience, and those two things should be enough to truly get to a basis of whether autoplay would work or not.

11 Sep 2010 - 11:19am
penguinstorm
2005

It's not obvious from your question what context you're talking about "auto play" in . When I read your question my brain instantly flashed to inserting a DVD or CD into a computer and having it start playing automatically.

My first reaction was that it's not inherently bad: it's that sort of user experience that I would generally categorize as "it should do what people expect."

If you're talking about having a movie/audio or its ilk automatically start playing when a web page loads, my logic would be the same. On mySpace "auto-play" seems to be the norm...this might explain why I almost refuse to visit mySpace pages, despite being a music nut.

I still think most readers tend to assume when they visit a web page it's going to not be noisy, but there are probably markets and audiences where that's not true.

11 Sep 2010 - 3:05pm
Janna Cameron
2004

There's some good accessibility arguments against autoplay, especially when videos are not the primary, expected content of web pages.

Why disable auto-play? • prevent seizures triggered by flashing video content • prevent interference with screen readers • prevent distractions for people with ADD

NB - Short clips (<3s) are ok-ish according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

-----Original Message----- From: ixdaor@host.ixda.org [mailto:ixdaor@host.ixda.org] On Behalf Of candiRSX Sent: Friday, September 10, 2010 5:05 PM To: Janna Cameron Subject: [IxDA] Auto Play: Need Research to Back Up Why It's Bad for User Experience

I'm trying to teach the people at the small agency I work for that auto play
is not advisable.  I need not only reasons why it's bad for users but also
stats of how it can give them less than desirable numbers for analytics like
bounce rate.  I've been able to find posts about why it's bad but I need
more evidence. 

Thanks in advance.  I appreciate the help. 

(((Please l

11 Sep 2010 - 5:02pm
pabini
2004

Hi Candi

Since you're talking about getting analytics like bounce rate, I'm assuming you're talking about video and/or audio autoplay on Web pages. You're right. Autoplay on Web pages is always a bad idea. The site context doesn't matter at all. It's the larger context of using the browser and other other Internet apps that matters.

Autoplay on Web pages violates the basic UX design principal of giving users a sense of being in control. In this case, I'd go even further and say that users must have control.

I wrote about this very topic in one of my columns on UXmatters: "First, Do No Harm," (http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2009/11/first-do-no-harm.php) in the section "Playback That Interferes with What Users Want to Do.

As regards getting stats like bounce rate to prove this is a bad idea: I don't think that's a reliable approach at all, because of the types of problems autoplay cause

Instead, tell them a story that illustrates both why autoplay on Web sites provides a bad user experience and why they won't get reliable Web analytics. This one would do. It's a true story.

Pabini just started up her Mac, because she's got a conference call on Skype in about 20 minutes. She knows she'll need to use her browser during the meeting, so she's started Chrome up, too. As always, Chrome automatically reloads all of the pages from her last session, as she's requested. There are often a lot pages—maybe 20 browser windows and 100 tabs—some for work, others for play. The pages take time to load.

Yesterday, she watched a video of a talk from a UX conference. She wanted to explore some of the other videos, so she didn't close its tab. All of a sudden, the video starts up. Maybe she was listening to some trance music on YouTube, so that cranks up, too. Her browser hung, and she didn't restart it afterward, so she didn't close that tab either. Neither of these videos was the last thing she looked at. Since Chrome doesn't provide any good way of seeing what's on all of the tabs in a browser window and the videos don't show up in the list of open Windows, the only way she can find them and shut them down in time to start that meeting is to frantically search through all of those tabs, one by one.

Since that can take considerable time, if it's a short video, it may even stop before she finds it. In either case, from the standpoint of Web analytics, it looks like she's watching the video and perhaps even remaining on the site after it's finished playing. Not good data. The best data you could give them would be survey data answering a question like: Should videos on the Web autoplay when you navigate to them? Why?

Anything as disruptive to a user's work as audio must be under the user's control.

Hope this helps. With all the work I have to do for UXmatters, I don't usually have time to participate in these discussions anymore, but autoplay on the Web is one of my pet peeves, so I couldn't resist.

Regards, Pabini

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Publisher & Editor in Chief

UXmatters

www.uxmatters.com

Founding Director of IxDA

IxDA Local Leader for Silicon Valley

 

11 Sep 2010 - 6:25pm
candiRSX
2010

Thanks Pabini! It's a pet peeve of mine too.  

Thank you everyone for all your help as well.  If you have any more resources I can use, I'd greatly appreciate it.  I also tried to delete Hugh's multiple responses but I couldn't see where I could do that.  I emailed ixDA to see if they can help me. 

Thanks again!

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