Put the Voice on Your WebPage… BAD IDEA…
November 21, 2007

Today a friend of mine told me about an trend that he thinks it will be the future of the internet… the Voice on the webpages. He says that this new feature will be able to:

  1. Increase the Navigation Experience of the user.
  2. Increase the Interaction with the user.
  3. Increase the Information Quality.
  4. Create a New Way to communicate.

I have to say that I consider this approach or trend for the webpages wrong. Maybe I’m wrong and in the future it will be a real trend, and I will be happy of that, because I will learn a lesson, but right now I don’t think that will be a good idea implementing the Audio to the old-style web pages.

I want to clarify that I’m talking not about Audio on Internet, but on the Web, that are two different things:

  1. Audio on the Internet: Audio that is not heard using the web. Those are for example Internet Radio, VoIP, Podcast & IPTV and Music Web Services (Pandora for example, I know that is web based, but the user goes there to listen to music).
  2. Audio on the Web: Audio that is embedded on a web page (not music related), with a web player or similar interfaces.

This is why internet users have a different approach with any type of the audio during their navigations. Usually when I go on Internet (and I think I’m not alone in the world), I listen to music. It helps to me to maintain my mental health and also because I love hearing music all the time, I listen to the music that I like and form the source that I want, that can be SW Player or Web Radio. Very often when I enter in a website that has some sound, it surprises me (cause the unexpected new sound) and I have to stop my music or more often I close the web-page from my browser. If the website is something I want to discover or I’m interested in and start a speech, I’m not prepared to start listening (cause I’m listening to music or not expecting it) and lots of times I have to look for a button that allows me to restart the audio or I have to reload the page… And I have to say that 90% of the times this makes me frustrated…

If we think about the user experience side that our users would have, I think that this would be bad for it, simply read the previous lines… The user wants to stay focused on his navigation, and not to be surprised or interrupted by unexpected and unnoticed happenings, for example an user wants to stay silent for some reason, and some audio starts form the web page, he will be disappointed for sure, cause it interrupts his focus on the navigation, because he has to change the focus on how to stop the audio and also later he has to regain the focus on his navigation, on what he was looking for. An unexpected audio will be relevant to destroy his navigation process and user experience in the beginning of his navigation on your website. The user hopefully would come back if he has a good and happy experience on a website.

Thinking on the information and communication side there is the need to say that you use the audio not to give more information, but to change how to deliver the information, this can be a good thing, it can improve the efficiency of your website, but there is the need to think on how the user traditionally thinks are provided the information. Usually the users looks for information using everything that can be seen, he uses the eyes to look for text, images and now videos, and to take information form them. Internet was born to communicate using the eyes not ears, this is also how the computer navigation and interaction is based.

I think that if you really want to put audio on your website you have to follow this tip, do like youtube… don’t start the audio (or video) when your page is opened, let the user decide if to listen to your kind of music.

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There is 1 comment

  • Marco says:

    I agree with you. I’d like to add that audio is not multi-tasking. I don’t listen to music when I surf and I like to open ten or more tabs (especially when I’m browsing search engine results).
    When I hear some music or voice coming from my pc, I don’t know which tab is singing or talking…
    PS: good blog, good thoughs, good english 🙂

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