May 13, 2009

Mute your next web site

Did you ever happen to furiously mute the sound of your computer because of a web site making it?
It is near 9 a.m. in the morning. My wife worked late yesterday and she is still sleeping. I am reading my mails before I jump to work. The owner of the blogs that I read regularly contacted me privately and asked to subscribe to his newsletter. The blog is great and the value of the newsletter is great. So I subscribed.

The subscriptions happens through a 3rd party web site. It seems that this web site wants to be "accessible". It is good to be accessible but they decided to read the text on the screen aloud (much louder than average) automatically. Thank you very much. My wife may be awoken now and I feel ashamed :(
Why do I write about it?
Very often technical people forget a very simple but the most important rule of a
Normal people do not expect your web site to scream aloud.
It is a cool feeling when you solve a technical challenge. It is cool when you create a flashy animated flash site with a lot of music ("flashy screaming flash"). Cool for you. But it is not cool for a visitor, who needs it now but has to wait for 5 or 10 minutes until the site loads. And it is not cool at all to force him to turn off his speaker in a hurry.
Do not behave rude to the visitor!
The good alternative would be to propose a three versions of the site on the first page in the order of preference:
  • Flash with sound
  • Flash with sound (muted)
  • HTML version
Of course, not everyone can or want create several versions of the web site. At least do not be too rude and mute sound by default. There is no value in that electronic music that you play anyway. But many visitors will appreciate when you care about them (and their sleeping wives). You always can provide a control to enable sound, don't you? :)
Hope next time you will mute the sound of your web site by default.


  1. Oh Yeah!! You hit the nail on his head. I absolutely dislike having a website creating sound as well. I'm probably already listening to my iTunes library or listening to a radio or having a phone call.

    I'm wondering what others think of having sound by default on their site. I will never ever put sound on a website unless I add a movie of some kind which has sound. But then, the movie will not be loaded automatically and will not start playing automatically either

  2. Click2Flash for safari, or any flash blocker for firefox, because nobody cares about us, the users.

  3. I also hate it very much, if theres no chance to switch off or mute the music. It's like a pain in the ass, if some unwanted music blows my speakers and makes my girly insane. And of course, you never find the mute button in such situations just in time..

    Anyway - hope your article gets readed by all those peoples who has implemented this function.

    With best regards

    Guido Palacios

    ..sry for my english..