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Q: Music on your site
by Mike Slocombe

Q: Is it considered good or bad practice to have music on a website?
Magda Karoni

A: Although some folks love to welcome visitors to their site with a fanfare of cheesy MIDI tracks, you should never force sound on surfers.

Some authors may think it's a kick-ass way to add an 'extra dimension' to a site, but in reality it's more likely to send people fleeing.

An unexpected burst of MIDI death metal could cause job-threatening problems for surfers in quiet offices, while others may rightly resent the intrusion - who are you to decide what they should be listening to?

While there's no denying that streaming audio/mouseover noises and so on can add real value to a site if it's appropriate to content and theme, it's important to consider the impact these files will have on download times.

Make sure audio is always an optional extra, never the default, and even if visitors have opted to hear it, always provide a clearly labelled 'Music OFF/ON' button on every subsequent page.

December 2002

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