Why Won’t Video Autoplay on Mobile? | Squarebird

Why Won’t Video Autoplay on Mobile?

Have you noticed your website video isn’t autoplaying on mobile? You’re not alone.  

The relationship between video and mobile hasn’t always been smooth, but recent updates have fractured it more. Did you know that setting your phone to ‘low power mode’ can disrupt website video autoplaying? Or that in the last few years most browser will only allow videos to autoplay if muted? If you go on to most large-brand websites, you will likely see static images instead of autoplaying videos. 

Considering how important video is in the modern age for engagement, and how mobile-users are taking over desktop for large segments of the market, why wouldn’t a video autoplay? We’re also pretty used to it; Tiktok is an endless scroll of autoplaying videos – so, why aren’t websites the same? 

Why Isn’t My Website Video Playing on Mobile?

The answer might lay in privacy. Or maybe in ‘low power’ mode. Or it could be down to how it was embedded. But let’s start with privacy… 

Videos often play on websites via a third party platform like YouTube or Vimeo. And, with other platforms bringing their own set of tracking processes and policies, mobile operating systems are pushing for users to approve actions prior to actions being tracked. The result? Video autoplay being removed by default. At the very least, users may have to accept cookies before the video plays.  

You might be thinking “well, hey, I’ll just bypass third party platforms and host my video on my website”, but, as we explain below, this can have disastrous effects on site speed. And if your website loads so slowly not one stays on it, no one will see your video anyway.  

In short: browsers and mobile operating systems alike are sometimes preventing videos from autoplaying.  

If you want to know a bit more about privacy vs cookie policies, we’ve got the perfect blog for you… read it here! 

Website Video Not Playing on iPhones

Apple has always been hot on privacy, but now they are tighter than ever. With increased power to users, tightening privacy policies, and diligent cookie use, Apple are leading the way in mobile privacy. 

The latest impact (or victim?!) of this is on video.  

YouTube may have started this revolution. They won’t allow videos to autoplay on iOS devices anymore due to privacy, and it’s fair to assume Vimeo and other media platforms will follow suit – if they haven’t already.  

The issues seems to persist across browsers too, so it’s not just iOS to blame.  

Something that seems exclusive to iOS is the restriction of autoplay videos while a device is on ‘low power’ mode. In order to preserve battery power, iOS devices may restrict the autoplay of video when set to low power – so it’s checking if your iPhone is set to this if something isn’t working as expected.  

It wouldn’t be the first time Apple has led the way – check out our article on Apple’s influence on bottom navigations 

Website Video Not Playing on Android

Because one mobile operating system has made this change, it’s likely others will follow suit.  

Again, this is also down to browser settings. So, whether you’re using a Samsung, Apple, Google or other phone, your video autoplay may be impacted by Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari or more.  

Another thing to consider is how the video is embedded. If a simply embed code is used, it should be fine (as long as you have the right browser and device settings, no ‘low power’ mode activated, and the video is muted…phew!). If a built-on system, for example as part of a WordPress theme, is used, this may inhibit autoplay functions too. This is a relatively quick fix that most capable web developers like our WordPress wizards would be able to update!   

How to Get Video to Autoplay On Website

It’s actually pretty easy to get a video to autoplay. However, the onus is not always on the website, but the user. Therefore, if you want your website video to autoplay, you will now require users to have updated their own settings on both their device and their browser. But, realistically, how likely is that? 

Even if a user changes their browser settings to allow for video autoplay, if their device settings don’t allow it, video will not play automatically. 

Considering all the above, ensuring your video is muted is also important. Most browsers block videos that play with sound, so your video must be muted if you want it to autoplay (with all other considerations in play). 

Another important element is file size. Lots of browsers and operating systems will not load videos if they are too large as it eats up data. Videos on websites – much like images – should be optimised for web and file size kept to a minimum. 

Finally, check the video is embedded directly using code, as a theme player could prevent autoplay.  

And, if it still isn’t playing on mobile, there could be a whole host of reasons why. Basically, it’s never guaranteed to work all the time…sorry.  

Don’t worry – there’s other ways you can keep your website engaging and still feature your video on mobile.  

Website Videos on Mobile Best Practice

Aside from muting a video or reducing its file size to facilitate autoplay, there are a few other things to consider when using video on mobile websites. 

Add a background 

Your video is most likely amazing (especially if shot by us!), showcasing your products, services, or people in the best light. So, you might worry that if it isn’t autoplaying on mobile, users may miss out on seeing this. This doesn’t have to be the case – by adding a background picture in place of the video, and using imagery throughout your website, you can still achieve your objective. 

The replacement of video with a static image on mobile doesn’t have to disrupt your style or storytelling; all visuals are valuable in this. 

Add a play button 

Insistent your video needs to play on mobile? It still can! Just add a play button – so users understand there is a video – and put the option in the hands of the users. Or even better… 

Use your video elsewhere 

Say your video is in the hero of your website – the first thing users see – do you want to add a play button to it? Or, in the interest of visuals and engaging users, would it make sense to embed it further down the page?  

Videos are valuable because they can explain processes, show benefits, and walk through stages. This requires attention from a user. Separating a video away from menus, buttons and content all fighting for attention could help to guide the user and focus their attention on the video.  

Say you have an ‘about’ section on your homepage and a video of your CEO explaining your business, it makes perfect sense to add in a video element next to that text, and elevate the user’s experience.  

Replace the video 

Sometimes – and we really do mean sometimes – videos on websites aren’t the best option. If added directly to the website, videos can actually have negative impacts on site speed and therefore UX and SEO. Site speed is a key metric for users and SEO, and long loading times are proven to dramatically increase bounce rate, ergo reducing conversion rates too.  

On mobile this is compounded; we’re used to getting the information we want in seconds from the palm of our hand and if we don’t, we aren’t happy. As more and more people use their phones for the web, site speed will be critical.  

It’s worth assessing whether your website videos do more harm than good. There are plenty of online tools, including Google Search Console, you can use to answer the question ‘is video slowing down my website’. If the answer is yes, there are follow-up questions; ‘can I host this video elsewhere?’ and, importantly, ‘could some creative copywriting or imagery do a better job?’. 

Though, as we say, this is only sometimes. When done properly, videos on websites are a fantastic sales and branding tool.   

Design for mobile 

If you are considering video on your mobile website, you should probably consider the design of your website as a whole on mobile. Users are ever-increasingly turning to their phones, so you need to consider mobile from the start of your website-creation-journey. 

Need advice? Read our blog on mobile-first design 

Should I have Video on A Mobile Website?

This blog might have scared you into thinking video is some big bad beast, but it really isn’t. Granted, the function of videos on your mobile website may be limited to manual ‘play’ buttons, but this doesn’t mean they are any less valuable.  

We’ve previously put together a blog explaining exactly why video marketing is so important, with some pretty interesting stats on video consumption! 

A well shot, placed and presented video on your website can do wonders for your aesthetics, UX and even SEO. But, if you still have questions about how to achieve a speedy website with stunning visuals and creative content, shoot us a line at contact@squarebird.co.uk 

Not ones to shy away from the latest trends and updates within the industry, we design and build slick, dynamic websites that look and function great across desktop and mobile. Check out our portfolio, get inspired, then get in touch  

Or, check out our video services featuring plenty of examples to get you thinking.  

Get a free consultation call with our team.