Old habits die hard; even the ones that deserve a swift death. Case in point, it never ceases amaze how many performing arts organizations still have an audio file set to autoplay when users visit the website’s homepage. For the most part, the online community crossed the autoplay=bad threshold back in 2011 and although most performing arts groups seem to have caught up to what everyone else realized a few years ago, a few groups seem to have lost the memo.
What’s Wrong With Autoplay? Everything.
Back in the day, autoplay was just fine, but this was also the brief period of time from the onset of early broadband internet connections in major metropolitan areas and the onset of the Smartphone revolution.
Back then, browsing was restricted to desktop and laptop environments and surfing the net in working environments wasn’t as common as today. There was even time when having autoplay audio was a tool to demonstrate multimedia prowess.
Times have changed.
Today is a completely different story; mobile devices and high speed cellular connections mean people are in brave new world. High speed mobile devices mean people use the internet in public spaces and those spaces are still defined by personal space and autoplay music is nothing but intrusive.
Even tech style gods like Apple have developed an official position that autoplay auto isn’t kosher and went so far as to disable autoplay in Safari browsers on iOS devices.
If you need additional best practice related advice, then head over to the international community created to develop open standard for web growth, W3C (World Web Consortium). These folks determined that autoplay is sketchy business as well and laid out clear guidelines (section 1.4.2) for non-interference.
For all the folks who insist that orchestras and operas are all about what people hear so their websites must autoplay music so, let’s look at some more practical reasons.
- People aren’t as stupid as you think. Really. Simply put, they can find the area on your site that features media clips and play them if desired. And if you’re genuinely interested in bringing in new listeners, they are likely in a generation that knows how to use Facebook, send an email, and has a browser that wasn’t released in 2007. And if cute cat videos are any sign, folks have no trouble finding and sharing multimedia they find entertaining, you don’t have to hammer them with it.
- When did you become the harbinger of good taste? Who’s to say that the clip you select is going to appeal to such an overwhelming majority that it will create a meaningful emotional bond to begin with? Worst case scenario, you could actually turn away a potential ticket buyer.
- You’re only going to kill conversion. For those not in the know, conversion is important to your website. It means ticket sales, donations, or social shares. If you only believe a fraction of the mountain of evidence that says autoplaying audio is bad, then do some A/B testing and be sure.
In the end, there are no good reasons to have autoplay music at your organization’s site. Certainly, times may change and the opposite may once again be true but until then, play it smart and play to win the game of online conversion and leave autoplay behind.