From time to time, we are asked if it is possible to play background music on PhotoDeck sites. The answer to the question is "no" (except as part of a video), and not implementing the feature is a conscious design decision.
We normally base our developments very much on our members' needs and wants, so I thought I'd share the rationale behind that.
Many people prefer a site without music
I'm one of those pesky guys that close a site as soon as it forces music through my computer. I feel invaded, and insulted that I have to look for a small "Pause" button somewhere on the page to kill the noise (and it's downright embarrassing when I'm in a room with other people). So usually I close the site immediately and move on.
I'm far from an isolated case. Want proof?
"Everyone can now track down noisy tabs"
That's the title of a Google announcement of a new feature on Chrome. That feature helps identify more quickly the "noisy tabs", i.e. the sites that play audio, so users can close them down faster.
Design for the busy-pesky client, not for yourself
For me, this is a golden rule. A photography website should make the photographer look great. But the main goal of a professional photography website is to make it easier for a client, or potential client, to do business with you, the photographer.
Whatever you do on your website, make sure it doesn't give an excuse for a busy or angry client to go away. Visitors should feel in control, not held captive.
Usability trumps coolness, even for photography websites, and that is a philosophy we strive to follow.
You can still put a video on your frontpage, with audio, as videos are generally better tolerated when they add real value. But use with care...
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