Music at your website is a lot like kissing. We all like being kissed, but that doesn’t mean that we want to be grabbed and kissed, willy-nilly, by just everyone. We all like music, but that doesn’t mean that we want it thrust upon us just because we visited a website.
Indeed, we may like being kissed, but not want to be kissed in particular ways or at particular times. Just so, we may not like particular kinds of music, or may not want to have it start up when we’re already listening to our own choice of music. We may not want to be kissed repeatedly when we are trying to get our work done (I can’t be the only one who has ever had this problem), and we may not want to listen to that loop of music when we’re trying to concentrate on a task.
In, fact, that was the thing that made me start thinking about this issue: a client forwarded an example of a kind of video he’s considering adding to his website. While I admired the clarity and usefulness of the example, there was a little four-bar bit of music that repeated throughout the entire thing.
I found it distracting.
It is possible that there are four bars of Bach or Ben Harper or something that I could stand to hear 93 times while having some tech process explained, but that particular four bars wasn’t in that category.
As is so often the case, once the topic had brought itself to my attention, I found it everywhere. While doing research for an article, I found myself at no fewer than five websites which began playing music as soon as they opened.
I enjoyed some more than others. And the thing is, since it’s hard to predict how your visitors will respond to your music, there is the danger that it will cause them to close your website, to hesitate to return to it, or to hesitate to link to it, regardless of how they feel about your product or services.
Here are some possibilities for planning music at your website:
- Make it an opt-in situation. That is, let people choose when they want to hear the music. This musician’s website has a page for listening, with an easy-to-find “listen” button. It’s easy to listen if you want to, but you have a choice.
- At least, make it an easy opt-out. The button in the example just below is clear and obvious. A more subtle look like the one beneath it may lead visitors to click away from your site sooner than they would if they had a choice.
- Make it good music. This is almost unfair, since “good music” is an extremely subjective term. However, you’d be wise to avoid having midi files greet your visitors. While there was a time when midi files were the norm in computer music, that day is past. Midi files can still be useful for practicing music, but they’re really not intended for listening to for pleasure. If you put a tinny jingle on your website back in 1993 to make it cool, it’s time to remove it.