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Fundamentals of Successful Web Sites and Sound

Marketing and Usability
Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting to a small audience on "The Fundamentals of Successful Web Sites." It was nice being able to get out of the technical web world and focus again on fundamentals.  In today's world it is very easy to get caught up in all the "bells and whistles" the web has to offer.  The smartest thing anyone can do online is keep it simple.   My presentation concentrated on Marketing and Usability.

If anyone is interested in notes from the presentation click below:
Fundamentals of Successful Web Sites  (.pdf)

On Sound
During the presentation a gentleman asked me a great question regarding sound on a web page.  In today's multimedia driven Internet sound is becoming an important part of the online experience. Web site sound can be great or get annoying depending on the user.   

One particular experience rings in my head.  It was late at night and I was surfing through some airshow web sites.  Next thing I know there are fighter jets screaming over my head.  My speakers were turned all the way up from earlier in the day.  I neglected to turn them down after listening to some music.  I've heard the same frightening/embarrassing story from other users.

Set Your Default to OFF

If you are going to load sound on a web page make the default setting OFF.  You'll notice that many companies do this with advertising.  They know how easy it is to annoy users and decide to take a careful route.  Don't annoy your users with forcing by audio on them.

Give Users the Choice
Don't load sound files automatically when the site is loading.  Give users the option click and listen to a recording or audio track.  Your users enjoy being in the "drivers seat" for their online experience.  Another problem with automatically loading sound or music is that you'll get repetition each time someone comes to a page.  This happens frequently on home pages that automatically load sound.  Each time you go back to the home page the same music or sounds start to play over and over again. That's sure to turn off your users.

Sound is great online, just use it wisely.  Let people have the option of what they hear and when they hear it.

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