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Designing with Sound : Page 2

If you're reading this, you've probably decided you want to use sound in your site. So now's the time to start thinking about sound as a design element and how your design can affect you and your readers.


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Different Sounds for Different Sites
How scary would Michael Myers appear if every time he appeared in "Halloween" he were accompanied by Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake?" Not very, although it would add an interesting twist.

If you were looking at a Web page on childrens toys, and Marilyn Manson was blaring in the background, would you stay at the site, or would you leave? Most people shopping for children's toys would be shocked to hear loud rock music playing in the background.

Consider the message your Web site is trying to get across before you choose your sound. You want the sound to blend with the rest of your site, not conflict with it. Put as much effort into choosing your sound as you would your pictures and your words. You probably wouldn't opt for a pink and baby blue background for a cyber-cafe site; so why have some gentle feedback sound when a sonic boom might be better matched?



Let's say you're working on a Web site that displays final art projects for a fine art grad school program. As part of your site, you'd like to include some music. You've decided on a really excellent "Devo" song. (Remember that you'll need to get permission from either the artist or the record company before you use song clips from bands, but that's something we'll discuss in a later section).

Your goal is not to have your audience bouncing around and singing "Whip It;" your goal is to enhance the works of art and add to the experience of the Web site.

Consider having a few seconds of the song you choose play as your page is being loaded—or every time you mouse-over or click on one of the images. Brief exposure to music may be all you need. Overwhelm your visitors with Devo and they're going to wonder—is it a page on 80's music, or on art?

If you're building a site on a local garage band, the site may feel barren without sound clips. Consider putting a dozen sound clips on the site, or have one of the bands songs play as the page loads.

And always consider what type of environment most of your readers are in before choosing sound. If your reader is in a corporate environment, they may not appreciate sonic booms booming from their speakers.

Use sound with your site, not against it.





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