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Auto playing video

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Monday May 19, 2008 )

Before allowing video to automatically play when a page is loaded, there’s something very important to consider.

A bit of background. I just visited a site with a rather long home page and began reading. I noticed my drive churning away and that the connection icon in my system tray was flashing, indicating that data was downloading. By the time it registered with me what was going on; over 30 megs of video had downloaded.

For someone on an all you can eat account, that’s probably not a problem. I’m on wireless broadband at present; it’s expensive and my allowance is 3 gig a month. That video I was never going to watch chewed up an appreciable chunk of my bandwidth and as a result I’ll never visit that site again.

I’m not alone, there’s lots of folks who even on wired broadband have quotas as little as half a gig a month. I can’t provide any stats on percentages, but I personally know quite a few on these sorts of restrictions and they curse the world of rich media at times; particularly since it can scream down the lines before they know what’s happening. These are all potential customers.

As I keep saying, just because the bandwidth is there, it doesn’t mean it absolutely has to be used – there should be a real benefit to the user. Very short video ads aside (which can still be annoying), I don’t think anyone is opposed to clicking on a “play” button to see a video they actually *want* to watch; so my recommendation is to use that function.

We shouldn’t assume to know user intention all the time as it can really backfire.


Optimizing page load times


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