Don’t Make this Traffic Killing Mistake

vietipodremix from BoingBoing.netOne of the big reasons we have web sites and blogs is to generate traffic. I mean why put up a site unless want people to see it, right?

Yet some people insist on adding this traffic repellent to their sites and then wonder why they never see more than a handful of visitors.

Smelling Fishy

When folks do this to their blogs or web sites it’s like the owner of a high end clothing store who chooses to intentionally have an overpowering smell in their store that’s just a little offish.

Perhaps that store has a nautical theme to its branding. Maybe the owner is even an avid boater. Perhaps he loves the smell of the sea. So he has figured out a way to bring that smell into his store. The idea is that he’ll boost sales because people will feel like they are shopping by the ocean.

Sure a small percentage of folks will like it. But the trouble is, to a whole lot of people the ocean just plain smells fishy. And those people almost never come back to the store.

Sound like a silly example? Well some people do exactly the same thing with their blogs and web sites.

Assaulting Your Visitors

If you want to maximize traffic to your blog, or your web site, then please, please, refrain from automatically assaulting your visitors with your favorite music the moment they click over to your site.

Now I like music as much as the next guy. More probably. I keep my iTunes running in the background pretty much all day long. If you care you can usually see what I’m listening to in real time on my Last.FM profile. If I’m in my office, chances are good there is tuneage playing.

And I cruse the web a lot, especially looking at new blogs. It’s part of my job.

There is very little that is more annoying than clicking on a site and suddenly hearing some song or other random sound blaring from my speakers. Even though you like music & I happen to like music there is a strong probability that we don’t like the same music.

Not only that but you have no control over the volume your site visitors have their speaker set at. In my case, with iTunes playing in the background, I have my speakers set fairly loud so that I can hear any important system sounds over the music. That means your music pours into my office pretty stinking LOUD!

It’s no different than that image at the top of the post. You are forcing me to listen to your music whether I like it or not.

Potential Visitor Responses

When that blaring noise assaults your visitors they will probably react in one of three ways.

  1. Immediately click away, probably via the back button on their browser. This is what I do most often. And rest assured that I am very unlikely to ever return to your site once I do.
  2. Frantically search the page for the offending player so I can hit the stop button. I’ll only do this if, because of my work, I have to stay on the page for more than a few seconds (and can’t immediately choose option 1).
  3. Reach for the volume button on my speakers to turn them down. I resort to this third option if I have to navigate around the site a little because most of these players reload, and therefore restart in all their loudness every time a new page is loaded.

These are not visitor attraction reactions because regardless of which option I choose I’m annoyed and far less likely to return than I would be otherwise.

Bad For Business

It’s one thing for bloggers to assault their readers this way. There are many reasons for blogging other than attracting visitors. But what still amazes me is how many business web sites are actively repelling visitors and traffic by making this same mistake.

Just because you can add sound to your web site doesn’t mean you should add it, especially if you want people to actually read your content, learn more about your business, and ultimately spend money with your company.

It’s one thing to offer the option to have sound for a “more complete” user experience. But you should seriously consider setting the sound default to off.

Otherwise you’ve basically decided to market your business with that “fresh ocean smell” that many of your potential clients think smells a little fishy.

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  1. Hi Chris,

    Thankfully I’ve seen this happening less and less these days. I completely agree, it’s such a turn-off.

    I hope all’s well with you, and your stress test gave good results.

  2. Heya David! Things are going well after the challenges of the last few weeks. Thanks. Stress test was a bit comical. They gave up trying to get me to my target heart rate at the 15 minute point. Weren’t even at 90%. Said most folks hit their target by the 9 min point and that all is well in my chest. 🙂

    I wonder if MySpace was a big influence on this whole noisy web site thing. I see it a lot on Blogger blogs too. Hmmm..

  3. That’s good that all’s well in your chest. 🙂

    The MySpace popularity is a valid point. When I first set-up a profile I was one of those idiots who had my favoured music tracks on auto-play. I can kind of understand if you’re a band, but my musical talents would be booed by the local cats.

  4. William Blair says:

    You’ve made some excellent points. And I couldn’t agree w/ you more.
    The only problem I have is it was a bit “wordy” (Im old) I feel like part of my life is missing. I can’t afford to read “wordy” novels at my age. Say what ya gotta say and put the Smiley Face on the thingy, get paid and then we all go home. Know what I mean? 🙂

  5. David, I agree that if you’re business happens to be in the music industry then it makes sense to have sound on by default. Beyond that I’m not so sure.

    William, yours is a valid criticism. I have a rather verbose writing style. Always have. I regularly council my clients to “write much shorter posts than I do” for a variety of reasons.

  6. Here, here, Chris! Music or spoken audio that starts automatically is a complete turn-off to me. I usually just close the tab instantly and look for somewhere else that’ll give me what I was looking for when I landed on that site.

    We have a local news affiliate that does it on their website and there’s often no findable turn-off button to click. What were they thinking? That we want to read the news and listen to their high-volume promos at the same time? Ugh.

    Can you tell this is one of my big pet peeves? 🙂

  7. Hi Chris. I agree. As a former web designer, I agree more!
    One of my clients wanted a theme song to play every time
    a visitor came to his home page.

    Not only did he not have the artist’s permission, he refused
    to listen to my version of the smelly fish.

    Presumably, he found someone else to do it. Too bad I did not
    have this post to wing in his general direction 🙂



  8. I’m with you Tammy. It’s nearly as obnoxious as those expanding ads that cover a huge screen area until you “close” them like the kind is notorious for.

  9. Mitchell, what those folks don’t realize is how quickly their preferred song gets old to someone who might spend some time poking around their site. I’m betting that most folks who want that for their sites don’t spend much time looking at the front end of them. Otherwise they’d probably get tired of hearing the same song over and over, and over and over…

  10. thanks for writing this. there’s nothing quite so aggravating as stumbling across one of those sites that have the music blaring. its a big turnoff and if i can avoid it, i wont return to the site

  11. Sound on by default is a horrible idea. Even for music etc. it is lousy. Perhaps if you have people logged in (saved over months…) you could give them the options to turn sound on by default. But that is the only way I can see it being reasonable.

  12. I totally agree. I have been surfing the net while my wife is asleep and come across a site that blasted music and woke her up. I never go back to sites that get me in trouble lol.

  13. I agree that default sound on is not the best idea. Too many people are surfing at work and they don’t want the office to know. Music on = they won’t come back.

  14. I haaaaaaate music, or any sound that starts automatically when I load a site. hate hate hate hate. It’s a guarantee that I won’t come back because that’s one thing I always remember about a site. I’m not in an office, I just hate that. Did I mention that I hate it yet? Because I do. 🙂

  15. Don’t hold back, Tinu. Tell us how you really feel. 😆

  16. totally agree with you on that default music on websites, i have had a similar experience such as yours… man, i almost had a hear attack!

  17. Auto playing music is the most annoying thing known to man imop. It definitely has no place on a website that is for a business. Being un-professional is but one reason such a thing should not be employed, annoying users and driving repeat visitors away is another.
    Annoying users is of course bad for business.

  18. You know, since going to work for myself, from my home, I have found that there are less distractions and less waiting when working at night. Usually I work from 9pm to about 3am.

    Clicking on a blog/website and having a song blaring “I’m proud to be an American” in the middle of the night is enough to wake the dead. The last time this happened I took the time to look up the owner and sent him and email telling him exactly what a horrible idea music on websites is,

    2 days later, he sent me an email stating that it was his web designers idea,(his brother in law). I followed up, and long story short, I picked up my first SEO / Web hosting client without even trying.

    So, the next time a website blares music at you … send them an email..

  19. agreed! and at the same time, having so many ads and search tools on your main page that it just makes everything impossible to load. it’ll deter traffic in a heartbeat!

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