Brass Tacks Web Design ident

Autoplaying Media - A Bad Idea

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Some of my clients are in the creative industries and occasionally require audio or video media on their website. This can sometimes lead to a discussion about the wisdom (or otherwise) of playing media automatically as soon as the page loads. 

This is regarded by many people as poor web design and something that should be avoided. It's regarded as obtrusive and distracting, not to mention downright rude. When someone visits a web page they're usually expecting passive content  - words and images. Automatically playing unsolicited sound or video may be inappropriate for their environment - it might be the middle of the night, or they may be at work or in a library. They may be listening to their own music, so your unwelcome intervention might not be appreciated. By suddenly playing your favourite song or a helpful video you're showing disrepect for the visitor, not only to their setting but their bandwidth. Many will quickly seek out the pause button, or if they can't quickly find it, the back button, which means they're leaving your website.

In all such cases the user should have control. By all means offer them the content but allow them to choose when to play it.