Starting in Chrome 64, autoplay of media files on your photography website will be turned off… in some cases.
Google has been working hard to make web browsing better and safer for users. One way they can accomplish this is by controlling the user’s experience when using their Chrome browser.
In a previous article we talked about Google’s initiative to make web browsing safer by marking all websites not using an SSL Certificate as “Not secure”. While this will act as a warning, alerting users that maybe you shouldn’t really be visiting this website, it could also be detrimental to websites that haven’t yet added that layer of security. (If you haven’t already read that article, I encourage you to do so.)
One of the most common complaints people have when browsing, is the autoplay of media files. While we all love to watch cat videos and listen to music online, the unexpected autoplay videos and audio files are an unwelcome experience. It uses data and consumes more power on mobile devices, and makes unwanted noise while browsing at work 😉
I personally hate when I go to a website and a video starts playing somewhere on the page, and I have to scroll to fine it and turn it off.
What do most people do… they just close the browser window and most likely never come back!
This is a bad browsing experience, an personally I don’t think videos should autoplay, but I understand why people use this technique for marketing.
To combat this poor browsing experience, the Google Chrome browser version 64, will allow autoplay of media files when they won’t automatically play sound (i.e. you’ve set your YouTube embed code to autoplay but turned sound off), or the user has indicated an interest in the media file, and then will mark that as a preference.
These changes will also unify desktop and mobile web behavior, making web media development more predictable across platforms and browsers.
Chrome 63 will add a new user option to completely disable audio for individual websites. This site muting option will persist between browsing sessions, and will allow users to customize when and where audio will play.
These changes will give the user more control over the browsing experience, which from a user standpoint is a great thing. This will also force website owners to implement autoplay where it benefits the user experience, not necessarily your marketing needs.
Why should you care?
Back in the days of Flash powered websites, photographers absolutely loved autoplay music to accompany their slideshows. Often these websites had no way to mute the audio, so visitors would just have to mute their computer volume, or close the browser window.
I think most photographers caught on pretty quickly and decided that maybe the autoplay of music wasn’t a good idea as they saw their website visits, time on site, and phone calls drop off.
But believe it or not, I still come across photographer’s websites that have autoplay music in the background.
Google Chrome owns more than half of the browser market share, so if you’re one of those photographers with autoplay music on your website, it’s time to get rid of it, it’s going to stop working anyway! Instead, incorporate a more modern method of displaying your imagery giving the viewer the option to turn music on, not having to turn it off.
If you have an autoplay video embedded on your website that plays as soon as the page loads, make sure it’s embedded with the sound turned off.
If your intent of the autoplay is to grab people’s attention with the audio, it’s time to rethink that strategy. You’re much better off using eye-catching visuals over sound.
You can read more about the Google Chrome autoplay roadmap here.
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Founder of Current Photographer, co-host of The Digital Photography Cafe Show, Designer, Photographer, and overall tech geek.