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Why do websites have autoplay videos?

Thats the question bouncing around most website owners minds. Just like music, photos and maps, videos can enhance your visitors experience and lead to more conversions.

When placing the video on the site, youcan either set the video to play automatically once a visitor logs on or play after the visitor clicks on a play button. I recommend the latter.

Frankly speaking, it is annoying and sometimes offensive when someone tries to force video content without the consent of the viewer.

It is this fact that makes your effort towards making your site more engaging and dynamic counterproductive. Instead of retaining the visitor, it may instead lead to a lost customer.

If photos are worth a thousand words, then videos are worth millions. But the autoplay feature might detract from this. I have compiled ten reasons to show you why having videos autoplay on your site is not a good idea.

Here they are:

  1. Surprise.In this case, its not a good thing. Imagine this; you are working in a quiet office with your boss a yardstick away, then you decide to make a quick purchase from a certain site. As soon as you click on the link, the room is filled with noise or music coming from your computer. This might get you into a bit of trouble. It is for this reason that you should give your visitors an option. Let them play the video once they are ready and have made the necessary adjustments to their electronics.
  2. It makes a lot of assumptions.By enabling the autoplay functionality of your sites video content, you are making a lot of assumptions. You assume that all your visitors:

Have browsers capable of playing the files without crashing That all your visitors will be intrigued by the video That the visitor is not listening to something else such as music as they surf the web And that the person visiting your site is situated somewhere where the sudden noise will not disturb other people.

If any of this assumptions happens to be wrong and the video causes problems with the browser, disturbs someone working nearby or causes the visitor any grief, they will close the site and probably never return.

  1. Its not the industry standard.Take a look at some of the most successful websites on the internet such as Google, Amazon, Ebay or Facebook. Do they play videos automatically on their sites? These companies have put in thousands of research hours and millions of dollars to find out what web surfers like; if they dont do it, neither should you.
  2. Its not good for multi-tabbed browsing.If your visitor has opened several tabs on his/her browser, an auto-playing video will force the user to flick through several tabs to find the source of the noise. This might be annoying and the user might end up closing your sites tab.
  3. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) does not recommend media autoplay for websites.They discourage auto-playing media that produces sounds.
  4. It will interrupt people using screen-reader software.This means that people who rely on screen readers to navigate your site will have to wait until the video is over (thats if it doesnt loop) to continue browsing.
  5. It forces data down a persons connection.This discourages users who are on fixed data plans or pay for their connection according to use. This is because videos need more data to load.
  6. Distraction.Auto-playing media (not just videos) will distract your visitor making it hard for him or her to concentrate on the other parts of your website.
  7. It takes control away from the user.We all like to be in control. We want to control how the browser or the website functions. Taking this control from your visitors might annoy them or seem arrogant on your part.
  8. Its a gamble.Not all your visitors will like the auto-playing video or media. This may lose you some visitors who cant stand watching the video each time they visit your site.

Although videos have the ability to enhance your sites user experience, then can also do the opposite if poorly implemented.

If you must have auto-playing videos, make sure they are:

Mute if they are set to autoplay. No longer than five seconds. Have large and well-positioned control buttons.

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