This is a highly controversial question, with very few definitive answers. There are probably equal amounts of pros and cons to the decision to autoplay your video as soon as your page loads, or to allow your audience the choice to opt in and hit the play on their own timing.
Back in the nineties, when sound on websites was sparkly and new, it could be forgiven that websites might automatically play sound when a user arrived.
So, is it annoying, or even offensive, to force your video content without content from the user? Or is it the perfect way to engage with your audience as soon as they hit your website?
And just to point out; there is no added value to SEO to autoplay or not.
Find below arguments for and against and some kind of conclusion to this vexing issue.
An argument for auto-play
Grabbing attention in that magic 3 seconds of arrival onto a page is hard. When a video plays it can draw the eye and engage a user to stick around a bit longer in order to find out more information from the video. Not only is this great in feeding the user along the purchasing funnel, it has the added benefit of getting users to stay on the site for the length of the video, and in doing so tells the search engine your site is relevant to that user (and others), aiding SEO.
Video content has been proven to increase on-site conversion rates dramatically, so you want as many eyes as possible to view your video.
When videos are in a prominent visual position on the site, and unmissable on the page, then the autoplay works best, as the user is ready for the experience. There is no starling effect from the noise of the video as it can be expected.
When not to auto-play
Auto-play can be problematic in certain settings. The content may be personal or sensitive, for example a video about treating gum disease. The user may not want this broadcast across the office or any other public setting.
There are a number of reasons why people like to make the choice themselves to watch the video or not. They want to make sure they have the volume at an appropriate setting, they want the option to connect their head phone to the PC first, or they may want to read the information first without distraction. Also, your website might be open in the background and do not want to listen to the video going over and over again.
Many ‘older’ sites use the autoplay function A LOT. Often ads pop up on these sites and play videos automatically and there is an associating with this behaviour that you’re unlikely wanting to replicate for your potential patients.
From a conversion standpoint, your primary goal should be to make sure that every person who reaches your website doesn’t leave without seeing your video, whether you do so by auto playing the video or designing elements that convince the audience to press play.
I think there are some guidelines to consider when it comes to the ‘for’ autoplay camp;
1) Ensure there is a little silent intro to the video, to avoid a sudden blast of sound when a user clicks through.
2) Make it easy for them to turn down the sound, pause or stop the video.
3) Avoid videos that re-run
4) Keep it relatively short and engaging, and relevant to the page. It should supplement the page content.
I personally feel that a nice intro image as the cover of a YouTube or other video, prominently placed on the page, with clear call to action (e.g “watch our video for more information about our teeth whitening process”) , makes it more likely that I will click and actually listen to the video.
It’s worth querying that when the video does autoplay, how much is actually taken in by the user?
Always try to think of the user. For example what situation or frame of mind are they likely to be in when visiting a particular page of your website or your home page? Think about getting the user comfortable and then engage in your content.
There are many aspects of design that come into play here, and we’d be happy to discuss your thoughts on this subject. Give Dental Design a call on 01202 677277 for more information.