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No Automatic Sound, Please!

There’s one thing on websites that bothers me even more than popup advertising, and that’s sound that plays automatically. I just hate it.

I don’t care if it’s music or words of welcome – I find it rude. Yes, I just realized that it is rude – exactly that.


It’s sort of like when you’re having a quiet conversation with someone and a third party rushes up all noisy and assumes that whatever they have to say is much more important than the conversation I’m involved in. I expect that from three-year-olds but not from adults.

Another reason I hate is is I’m often listening to something else – a radio conversation (right now KPFK is discussing healing herbs and how to grow them in background) or my own music. As I cruise along hearing baroque which I find wonderful to write to, and I click on your site and you’re talking at me it throws me clear off. I have to scramble first to figure out what’s going on and then to find where the off button is on your site.

Our web pages are not out there in splendid isolation. They are, or can be, a conversation of sorts. That conversation is unlikely to take place when you put sound barriers up, or at least you and I won’t have much interaction if I have to turn your voice off.

I suspect the same thing is true for clients. Imagine a client searching for a writer from the quiet of her home and suddenly sound from your site blasts out at her. Or how about the fellow looking for a writer on the q-t from his cubical. You’re voice just busted him and maybe even caused real problems.

The risk isn’t worth it.


If you want sound, and sound can be wonderful, make it optional. Let your visitor decide if they want to listen to your dulcet tones or your favorite rock band.

How do you feel about websites that play sound automatically?

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Thanks to everyone for venting for me! I hate automatic sound, automatic commercial windows (and commercials that won’t let you turn them off before they end!) and automatic animated intros and other nonsense that I have to waste my valuable time on if I’m really interested in the site I’m visiting.

    Here’s another one — not quite as bad as automatic sound, but still a bother: Inconsistent sound. Just when I’ve got the sound adjusted perfectly, I visit another site and the sound is WAY too loud (or more likely, to my not-so-young ears, too soft). Then I have to start over fiddling with the little slide adjustment, knowing I’ll probably have to do it again the next time.

    And which sound adjustment should I use. There’s a button on my keyboard, a button at the bottom of my screen, a speaker icon on the task bar ON my screen and usually another icon somewhere on the web page or window itself. Technology overkill!

  • I HATE THAT. I listen to music while working/doing research and if I have to look at something, it bugs me. Plus I often can’t turn it off!

    If I were going to put something like that on my blog, I’d have a whole separate page marked “Videos” or “Clips” or something so people could go check it out. Then I’d embed them so they have to click on it to play it. There’s just no excuse to startle people. Anne, you’re right; it’s rude.
    Elizabeth West recently posted..Three Good Reasons to Always Carry a CameraMy Profile

  • Morolica

    It’s the net equivalent of a commercial that doubles the volume on your tv, just so that you notice it.

    • Anne

      Might even be worse. It amazes me more webmasters or website owners don’t recognize what a turn off it is.

  • Ugh, I *hate* automatic sound on websites. I do a lot of work at the local community college library, and a couple of times I’ve forgotten to mute my laptop, landed on a site’s home page, and been extremely embarrassed to have a blast of music or speech come from my speakers. Yech. It makes me click right back off the website, no matter how useful the information there might be.
    Angie recently posted..Hello Frustration- my old friendMy Profile

  • I also have my laptop on mute. If I want to listen to something then I’ll unmute it, but I really hate unsolicited video/sound. One of the worst ones I’ve come across was one that had a man walking around the screen blathering on about the company. I was out of there so fast I didn’t have time to register what the site was.
    Lucy Smith recently posted..Winter viruses- none shall pass!My Profile

    • Anne

      Here in San Diego there’s a positive fad among real estate agents – you get either a man or a woman pretending not to know you’re there at first… hate it.

  • Sound on websites is the exact reason as to why I always have my laptop on mute. I don’t want to be annoyed with random noises going on when I’m surfing the web in a coffee shop or something.
    Jamwes recently posted..Twin Muses DanceMy Profile

    • Anne

      And since I work at home I often have something on of my own choosing…

  • Hate it-there was a website I accessed about a seminar and as soon as you connected it let out with this LOUD-and I mean-LOUD voice with a commercial about the seminar and why EVERYONE is attending. Stop shouting at me! If you clicked on another tab and came back to the Home page, it started all over again.

    Another pet peeve-whatever plug-in it is that adds that floating box to sign up for a newsletter, RSS, whatever. I don’t mind you pushing your site, but don’t have some floating box interfere with what I was reading.

    Thanks, Anne, I feel better now. 🙂
    Cathy Miller recently posted..I Have WordPress-Now WhatMy Profile

  • Hear hear (sorry, couldn’t resist)! I agree, sound should be voluntary. Video too. I hate when I accidentally roll over an ad and a video pops up and takes over my screen.
    Jodi Kaplan recently posted..How to Tell a Story and why you need oneMy Profile

    • Anne

      lol… another punwreck 😉

  • Oh my god, I hate that so much. But then, I would rather read the words than see a video or hear an audio recording about it.
    P.S. Jones recently posted..In Case You Missed It- July’s Diary EntriesMy Profile

    • Anne

      that’s why I’m offering my class in both video and text…

    • Video and audio are usually time-wasters. Video should only be used when visual elements are added that can be presented no other way. A talking head with no other visual content is often annoying. Unless it’s Anne.
      jorgekafkazar recently posted..Watcher in the Night decipheredMy Profile

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