Music is bad for the usability of your website… or is it?

The original version of this article can be seen at the award-winning Capgemini – Capping IT Off blog.

Imagine a man taking a break from his overdue Powerpoint to surf the web a bit. He visits his favourite site only to be met with a massive fanfare obliterating the sound of silence in the open plan office making his boss stare him down with a P45 look in her eyes.

An instant way for the website to lose a customer.

It is widely accepted that music on websites is bad for the user experience.

But as with many generally accepted user experience best practices, nothing is set in stone as the web is moving and changing faster than quicksand on fast forward.

What was best practice yesterday, may not be so today and probably won’t be tomorrow.

The no-sound best practice was established when the big Flash sites full of epic music tracks and loud button noises hit the web (link contains sound). Today user experience professionals know to keep away from sound having burned their fingers creating these sites int he past.

The subtle return of sound

But sound have slowly been seeping back into the digital experience in recent years: Notifications sounds on instant message services; Social media alerts on mobiles and complete soundtracks on embedded videos and music sites.

Sound is invasive, intrusive, and irresistible” so it is only natural it is making its way back in our digital lives. Online we already don’t have the sense of touch or taste so why limit ourselves from sound as well?

The Spotify Music Player opens the door for embedded music

Spotify, a music service that made headlines last year by joining forces with Facebook, announced today (11 Apr 2012) they are launching a play button for external sites to add a Spotify music player.

It is the first major attempt to return sound in full force to our digital lives, but I think it heralds a new dawn for music online and it is time to consider music and sound as part of the user experience online.

See the player in action on The Independent.

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