Like us elsewhere!


Subscribe - RSS feed
E-mail address:

Sound on websites: A sensitive subject

You probably recognize this situation: You’re surfing the web looking for inspiration, you click on some links, monitor your Twitter feed, and open pages in the background for later review. Suddenly your computer starts to scream!

It’s some rock song, very loud and unrecognizable because of it’s way-too-low bit rate. You don’t know where it’s coming from but you want it to stop immediately so you close all browser tabs and it’s quiet again.

Almost all people I ask about background music on websites tell me they find it totally annoying. A website just isn’t a thing you would expect to make any sound. People often listen to music while browsing the web, there’s no room for an extra layer of sound.

There’s a difference between background music and interface sounds though. I believe the right use of the right sounds can actually improve the user experience of a website. But you can’t just add any sound to any button. It won’t work.

There are other websites where sound might work, like on an abstract, futuristic, artistic site, a piece of art in itself. Or a site about a movie, with sound and images to get the visitors in the mood.

Sound on websites seems to me like an interesting subject to take a closer look at. Can it be done well? And if so, how? I’ll write a few things about it in the future, so keep an eye on this website if you’re interested.

One positive example I found of the right use of background sound is the website of Artis, the zoo in Amsterdam. You might assume people visit the site because they would like to go there, and this subtle soundtrack creates the right atmosphere.

Do you have good or bad experiences with websites with background music and/or interface sounds? Do you think sound should be left out at all? Let me know via the contact form of via @hugoverweij on Twitter!

Picture by: Will Hale

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

« Listen to the world on Radio Aporee | Main | Octachord: Hail to the sine wave »

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>