Auto Start Videos and Audio – Bad Idea

… and suddenly from the office down the hall, at a very high volume:

Hey everybody I’m watching porn in here!

A slightly hilarious prank that went around the office I worked in back in 1999. This was before we all got smart and stopped opening attachments just because the text of an email told us to.

So the 1999 reference might seem dated, but it is this prank that comes to mind every time I come across a Website that loads unexpected audio and video content or I see someone frantically pushing every button on their computer as they try to find a way to silence unwelcome sound that seems to be blasting across the room.

I have also been asked by clients to set audio and video to play automatically and it almost always comes with a tone of evil intelligence. It’s as if my client has found a way to force to people to consume or pay attention to their content… no bounce rate here, it will suck them in (insert evil laugh).

No actually it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter how innocent the audio is. We have all seen it. At a coffee shop or in our office, someone is startled by the unexpected sound coming from their computer speakers. The result is always the same, a small panic attack, an immediate closing of the browser window and/or many other methods of quickly stifling this intruding unwelcome and potentially embarrassing sound.

There is no real lesson here, just some friendly advice based on observation (admittedly not scientific polling), that people don’t like auto playing videos and audio on Web pages. Odds are this will get your page closed, not pull them in, not convert them to a customer or have them share your page because of the pure genius.

Post by Shane Larrabee

Shane Larrabee is founder of FatLab, LLC and has over 20 years experience as a business leader, web developer and online communication consultant.