Webmaster’s Corner – Site Sound

Well done! You’ve put the final touches on your website and now you’re looking to spice it up with that extra dimension – Sound! Adding another medium to your website can be an effective way to enhance the “viewer pleasure factor”, thereby keeping the visitor longer on your website. You must take into account of course, the final result should “add” to the experience – not take it away.

How would you take it away, you ask? Easy. Pick a really bad song, and have it blast your visitor’s ears off the second s/he opens your Home page. I guarantee that most people won’t be bookmarking your site if you do that. Alternatively, if you were to pick a song, put it on your website, and then gave the user the “option” of listening, you would be, a) increasing visitor interactivity and, b) adding a new flavour to your site without decreasing functionality.

Personally, I’ve found the MP3 format (short for Moving Picture Experts Group, Audio Layer 3), great for adding sound to a website. Layer 3 uses perceptual audio coding and psychoacoustic compression to remove all superfluous information. In other words, it removes all of the extra audio information that your ear can’t hear anyway, and leaves you with a file 1/12th the size of the original (in most cases). MP3’s are also easy to stream to the user, which means they don’t have to download the entire file before listening to it. Instead, they can listen to the file as the download is in progress – a big advantage over some other types of multimedia.

So if you’re going to try adding sound to your website, make sure of course it is relevant in some way to the theme of your site and is
supplied to the visitor in a way that empowers them to make a choice of whether or not to listen. Follow these basic rules of thumb, and you’ll increase your site usage.