Yesterday I was looking up information on the website for our local youth football program. I wanted to find out when the next registration day was and make sure I get my son registered before I have to pay the late fee. As I loaded up the website suddenly I was blasted with some soft of techno music. It almost knocked me out of my chair and I slammed my hand on the "mute" button on my speakers.
I am still shocked at the number of sites that have music playing on them by default. Yes, yours too. If you have music that plays automatically go immediately and turn it off.
I know, I know...you pay all this money to have a beautiful, fancy, Flash based site with slideshow effects and pretty music. Believe me, I understand the allure. BUT I HATE IT WHEN A SITE AUTOMATICALLY STARTS PLAYING MUSIC. I like to have my own music playing or shocking, maybe even a hulu window in the corner while I work and so always having my speakers muted isn't ideal. And I don't want someone else's choice of sound over-riding what I'm doing.
Also, I always want to keep in mind my customer's needs. What if she is surfing sites at work while on her lunch break and doesn't need everyone else to hear what she is doing? Or sitting at a laptop while hanging out with her family? I can't tell you the number of times I've clicked on a link in Facebook posted by a friend only to close the window of the website it opens IMMEDIATELY because music will start blasting out. Guess what, if I'm a potential customer, they probably just lost my business.
Still don't believe me?
Okay, what about a compromise?
Have music turned off by default but give the visitor an option to turn it on. Maybe have a little direction: 'the artist has selected music to enhance your viewing, click here to turn it on". If I'm in a location where I can load the music without interfering I probably will. Once I liked the music so much I just left it running while I worked.
Or option two: create music videos and label them as such. I love Animoto and how easy it is to create music videos. With my pro account they also have a lot of music that as already been licensed do I don't have to worry about getting the proper license for my music (by the way, another no-no is not getting the proper license for the music you use on your site).
It is even worse when the music is automatically started on a blog - I'm even less likely to expect it there and so much more likely to be surprised. And I have noticed it is MUCH harder to find the "off" button on a blog - at least those flash sites tend to have a somewhat standard way to mute the music within the site (rather than muting my entire computer).
What are your thoughts? Am I over sensitive to having the sound? Do you like to have music that automatically plays? Does the benefit out weigh the risk of your client closing the window?