I’m a big fan of having video and even audio on a website. Having that media adds a whole new level to the overall user experience. That user experience is what a great website is all about. What I’m not at all a fan of is having that media, video or audio, set to start playing on its own. The media needs to be set up so that the user has to start playing it.
The problem with auto play is that not everyone wants to sse, or more importantly hear, that media. There have been a couple of times that I’ve been at a coffee house and doing research and I’ll click on a link in Google and be taken to a site and all of a sudden the video start play and the audio starts right along with it. I know it’s a coffee house and I don’t have to be quite, but what if I had been working at a library? What if I was someone browsing the web at work? Any setting and the outcome is the same – I hit the back button as quickly as I could and went with the next site available in Google. Auto play can very frequently have the unintended consequence of scaring away users right away.
When planning and building a website, one of the guiding rules to keep in mind is that it’s all about the user experience. Some users may want the audio or video experience, some may not. Either way, it’s their choice to make. If a media is set to auto play as soon as the page loads, the website is deciding what the experience will be for the user, rather than letting the user choose their experience.