Music on Web Sites

Once in a while we have a client asking us to add music to their web site(s). And each time we have had to gently explain why that is not such a good idea.

When we say “music on a web site” what we mean is the automatic background music that you hear on the occasional site. This can be any kind of music, sound effect, ambient sound, etc. You’ve been to sites that have automatic music on them.

There are many reasons why it’s a bad idea to have music on your site. There are also a couple of instances when you might really need it. For example: you are a band, a music store, a producer, a multi-media artist, etc. MAYBE, in these cases, the music really adds to what your site is trying to get across to the visitor. The music might be a necessity.

For almost all other web sites, music is a bad idea. Here’s why:

First all, it’s incredibly annoying. Most of the time (and let’s be honest) the first thing you do when you visit a site with music is 1) get annoyed, and 2) look for the OFF button. And, of course, it’s usually a tiny little button that the designer has hidden from plain view.

Second, music is a very personal thing. Your choice of music can almost instantly turn off people who don’t like your choice of tune. Dance music, country, and rap are especially polarizing genres that folks either gravitate toward – or away from. You don’t want to do anything to push your customer away.

Third, it takes up bandwidth, and essentially makes your site load more slowly. Sure things can be done to optimize the files, but it’s still data, and that data still is taking up space that could be used to speed up the rest of the page or site.

While we can think of plenty of other reasons to stay away from putting music on your site, those three should be good enough. At the end of the day, it’s just not cool anymore. In 1995, it was pretty darn cool to have music on your website. These days, not so much.

by Thom Hiatt • (858) 877-3733 •