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Does Your Web Design Include Background Music?

Aug 17, 2007
When you design your website, you may wonder whether or not you should include background music in your web design. The answer to this requires you to ask two additional questions:

1. Will music benefit your website?
2. Do you know how to add music to your website

This article has been created to help you answer those questions and make the best decision for your own website's design.

If you are using a text editor in order to code the pages of your website - that is, instead of using a web editing program that has buttons for all of your options, and creates the code for you - background music may seem to be somewhat of a mystery to you. After all, it isn't just as simple as pushing the "background music" button. However, this doesn't mean that it is out of reach.

Before getting to the coding, though, you'll want to decide if you really want background music on your website. There are a few issues to be considered here.

Some visitors will find that background music that begins automatically while the webpage loads is very pleasant. However, others find that a sudden blast of music that unexpectedly blares out of their computer speakers (because the volume is turned way up from the last sound task they performed) may cause them to automatically close the screen or hit the back button to get away from all the racket. In this case, it doesn't seem to matter how loved the piece of music is that you choose. Remember that not everybody is using the internet in a place conducive to sudden bursts of music. People often use the internet:

In internet cafes
At public libraries
At work
At home when other people are asleep.

And still there are others who may find it annoying to have music automatically play on the computer, even if it is their favorite piece of music.

Even if you are absolutely certain that your website includes a type of visitor who would love hearing background music, you may wish to consider an alternative to having the website's background music play automatically when they enter the site.

For example, you might want to offer your visitors a button so that they may opt to hear the music that you have to offer. This will allow people to choose whether or not to hear it, and will allow them to prepare their volume levels and other preferences.

To add this feature to your site, you will need a MIDI, WAV, MP3 or other audio file of the piece you want to make available to your visitors. Use a HTML link to point to the file on your site:

If you want to actually embed the music in your website - that is, have it play automatically when the person enters the site, and not give them control over its playing -then things become a bit more complex. For one thing, different browsers have their own way of working embedded music files.

Now, this may seem to have been simple enough, however, sometimes, for some reason, this doesn't always work. If the music doesn't automatically play in Internet Explorer 3.0+ or Netscape, it could be possible that your web server isn't providing your browser with the correct MIME type. Therefore, you need to tell your browser how to handle the file, and to do this, your server needs to be configured for sending the correct information about that file. For example, in the case of a MIDI file, your server should send your browser a "Content-Type" header that states "audio/midi".

In order to check if the configuration is set up properly, in Netscape, click "View" in the menu to open the drop-down, and select "Page Info". Here, the MIME type of the music file - as well as other information - will be displayed. If the MIME type is indeed incorrect, simply contact your web host and have them repair it.
Just like most other aspects of coding your web design, adding background music requires a level of proper coding techniques. Even then, there will - on occasion - be a visitor who cannot hear the file the way you want it to be heard. Therefore, when choosing to add background music, do so with great care and take the decision seriously.
About the Author
Mark Nenadic
Mark is the director and face behind FifteenDegrees-North, where you will find articles and resources to help with SEO,
marketing and Web design.
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