In most video enabled sections of Out of the Sandbox themes, there is an option to have the video automatically begin playing when the page loads.
There are some key restrictions to this feature, however, especially on mobile devices:
- Many browsers, particularly the most recent versions, automatically block videos from automatically playing, particularly ones with audio.
- Most mobile devices, including Apple iPhones, Apple iPads and many Android and Microsoft devices do not support the video autoplay feature so your video will not play automatically if a visitor is on one of these devices.
- Some desktop or laptop browsers also automatically block videos from automatically playing or may automatically mute the audio.
- In some cases, even when the device and browser are compatible with autoplay, the video may not start playing immediately. Typically this is because the rest of the page assets are loading or the video file is still loading or buffering. In most cases, once enough of the page content or video clip has loaded to ensure smoother viewing, the video should begin playing.
- In most cases, devices or browsers that do not support autoplay do not, by extension, support looping video.
- In Out of the Sandbox themes, there is no way to have a video with audio begin playing with the audio muted. If you do not want to have audio "startle" users, you will need to remove all audio from your video or customize the code.
- Also, most mobile devices do not support videos playing behind other elements in Out of the Sandbox themes, so when the user taps the play button, the video will "take over" the entire screen.
It's also important to note that many browsers update automatically in the background, so even if you haven't manually updated your browser recently, it's possible your browser has been updated without you realizing it. This is typically the reason that the autoplay feature typically stops working.
Customizing the code to resolve limitations
While there are some workarounds to the limitations outlined above, Out of the Sandbox does not recommend or support them.
In our experience, many of these solutions do not work consistently across all devices and also involve adding code that may interfere with the functionality of the rest of your theme.
If having your videos automatically play on mobile devices is crucial to your site, you will need to hire a third party developer to see what solutions are available.
There are also several factors to consider when using an autoplay video or video in general on your site:
- This blog post has an overview of autoplay limitations and more tips on using video effectively.
- Video can be an excellent way to explain your store, products or story. However, these types of videos may be better embedded in a page, without autoplay enabled. This lets users play them when they chose.
- Many users find autoplaying videos, especially those with audio, to be unappealing, which could affect your bounce rate or conversion rates.
- Be sure to pay close attention to the overall file size of the video. For larger files, the video may not play right away or stop or "stutter" during playback, also resulting in a less than ideal user experience. Large videos can also affect bounce rate and conversion rates.
- Background videos, without audio, are a great way to grab user's attention, but again be sure to pay close attention to file sizes as larger files can affect performance and user experience.
- Also consider that some visitors may be visiting your site from a location where they cannot watch or listen to videos due to connectivity issues. Some users may also be browsing from a public place or office where audio cannot be played. Because of this, it can be a good idea to make sure your message is conveyed with on screen text or other imagery.