In the late nineties background music and click sounds on websites were quite popular. Today, we don’t use those sounds anymore on most commercial websites. Only flash sites make use of click sounds and background music to set the mood. Generally I think it is a good idea to backup your message with sounds or audio clips whenever it is appropriate. So when is it appropriate?

It is a tricky question because there are not many sites that use audio to support its message, so who knows what works or not when we can’t see it in action. I don’t think click sounds can be used to support a message, it’s just annoying. But voice bits could be cool to implement various places on a website or blog.

Take this blog for instance. I could add a little speaker icon next to my image on the right side of this page that when clicked, played an audio file of me presenting the website shortly. Also, when a visitor writes a comment, I could record a thank you message that would be played back to the visitor. Once a week I could change the audio message to add some variety.

Just think about it for a second. You probably recognize the voices of Scott Hanselman, Rory Blyth, Carl Franklin, Scott Guthrie and many more that either has their own audio or video show about .NET or has been guests on them many times. I do. It’s almost like you know these guys even though you’ve never met them in person. I believe that the audio has played a major role in that, so why not start using audio yourself?

It will be part of the branding of your blog or personal site because it let’s your visitors get closer to you as a human being instead of just being another anonymous site owner. Your visitors might just feel they know you a little and that hopefully makes them return to your site more than they normally would. Visitors are good, returning visitors are even better.

The only drawback to embedding audio on a website as I see it is when you forget to turn your speakers down at work and they suddenly make all your co-workers aware that your favourite porn star appreciate your comment on her blog in a highly inappropriate way. Other than that, I only see benefits.


Comment by Dan Atkinson

Hmm... I'm inclined to go so far as to say that I hate sound on websites that isn't connected to the content in any way.

An example would be music blaring out of MySpace profiles. Of course, this can be switched off, but it's not the default state.

It would be nice maybe to have an option of allowing users to leave audio comments (through Skype or whatnot), in the same way one would leave a voicemail on an answering machine.

Comment by Mads Kristensen

I agree that audio that auto starts when visiting websites is totally annoying. What I'm suggesting is a way to use audio to either present yourself or to support the content of the page - but it should be the user who starts and stops it.

Comment by Dan Atkinson

Yes, that would be sensible. I like the way that OneNote threads together the notetaking process with audio. Something like this on a website would be nice (although admitedly, it'll probably be Flash that takes something like this forward). This could be used in things like tutorials instead of video.

Bah, no. Video would be better. :)

Dan Atkinson