B&B Web Design Mistakes: #10 Music or sound on websites
There are three questions that should be considered before making something a part of your bed and breakfast website:
- Will this do anything to increase traffic from search engines?
- Does this provide a service to potential guests visiting the website?
- Will this help persuade potential guests to decide that our Bed and Breakfast is the place to stay?
You only need to answer yes to one of those questions to make it worth putting something on your B&B website. So let's take a look at the idea of putting music or sound effects on your bed and breakfast web site. Now to clarify, I am talking about music or sounds that start playing automatically when the page is viewed.
- Will music do anything to increase traffic from search engines? - Not at all
It will not do a single thing from a search engine point of view.
- Does music provide a service to potential guests visiting the website? - Not at all
Definitely not a service. It will not help them find a place to eat or learn about the area, it will not help them decide which room would best suit their needs. At best it may only give them an idea of the whimsical nature of the innkeeper, but usually not.
- Will this help persuade potential guests to decide that our Bed and Breakfast is the place to stay? - Not likely
Music strikes a chord in everyone, but it's usually a different chord for each person. Having your website play a bad cheap rendition of Brahms' Lullaby may touch a few visitor's hearts, but more likely it may remind a couple looking for a romantic getaway, of the child they are leaving at home. Or it may tell young couples that this is a place for old people, or it may tell older travelers that this is a place teaming with babies crying in the middle of the night. The point is, the music will rarely convey the same feeling it does for you.
Okay, so there were 2 definite "No's" and one "Probably Not". That by itself should be enough reason to opt not to put music or sound effects on your website. Just in case though, here are a few more very specific reasons not to use music or sound effects on your website
- Number one rule of website design for B&B's, don't annoy potential guests. From watching website tracking statistics I know that the majority of searches done for Bed and Breakfasts are done Monday through Wednesday and usually takes place between 9am and 5pm. This means a very large majority of potential guests are searching for a B&B when they are in the office and should be working. So imagine a potential guest is sitting in their cubicle using the computer and they are supposed to be working, and as far as everyone around them knows, they are working. Then this music or sound effect comes blaring out of their computer and immediately tells everyone in the office, that they are messing around instead of working. Their first instinct is to click the back button or close the browser to make the telltale noise stop. This means many potential guests leave your website before they even see it. And the likelihood is that they will not return to it to see if they missed something.
- The song or noise plays every time the page gets loaded. Again from website statistics, I know that people jump around on a website and often end up going to the same page (especially the home page) multiple times. This means they have to hear the song or noise, over and over again. It doesn't matter what the sound is, I've heard sites with Loon calls, Coyote howls, Whales singing, hooves thundering, surf pounding... none of them are that much fun to listen to more than once. Annoying potential guests is not a good marketing strategy.
- High quality music is hard to come by legally. You can't just put your favorite Beetle's song on your website. These and most other popular works are copyrighted. So you are stuck using very cheap renditions of music composed before 1900. Sound effects on the other hand are rather inexpensive or free, but they don't contribute anything of value to the site. (Annoying is not a value)
- Sounds and songs take time to download, which means they slow your site down. Having your images or text be delayed in appearing on the screen because music is downloading is going to cause people to wait. The culture of the internet is "no waiting" so don't make potential guests wait.
The risks of annoying potential guests are just not worth the very limited possible benefit there might be from the 1% of visitors that actually like to hear a synthesized version of the 1812 Overture.
Advice for B&B website design
- If you are having a new Bed and Breakfast website built, don't put sound or music on it that plays automatically. If you want to put a link or control on that allows people to choose to start playing the music, that's fine, but don't force it on them.
- If you have an existing web site that has music or sound on it that plays automatically, have it removed as soon as possible.
- If you are looking for a new designer or website promotion specialist, examine the sites in their portfolio. If you spot any pages that have music or sounds start up automatically, you should probably keep looking.