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Stupid Usability #8

Not music to my ears

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 12/5/2013

From the mind of Virgil Carroll, Principal Human Solutions Architect at High Monkey:

For anyone who remembers the web of yesteryears, they remember all the annoying animations and obnoxious sounds that used to fill our speakers when visiting sites that considered itself ‘trendy’. Flash forward 10-15 years and most of this is a thing of the past. Unfortunately there is still one annoyance that tends to rear its ugly head out in digital space … music playing over a site. Now where this may make a little bit (and only a little bit) of sense for musician sites and such, I seem to run into it in places it really should not of been.

Well since this is a usability series and not a Virgil bitching series, I will get to the issue I encountered. Recently I was checking out a bunch of local eateries looking for the right place to cater our company Christmas Party. While visiting one of the restaurant sites I was presented with some moody music meant to make the restaurant feel more sophisticated. Where the music was annoying, the more annoying and usability issue was there was no obvious way to turn the music down. Now in this particular instance I happened to have the speakers on my computer up really loud (I had just been on a conference call before) and the music blared across my screen. So after quickly hitting my MUTE button I looked the screen over to try and find a way to shut the music off. With no obvious button to see, I finally tried clicking on the little equalizer graphic at the top of my screen. I then turned off my MUTE button and the music was still blaring. I gave it a couple of more tries and finally was able to silence the music by making sure to click on one of the equalizer bars, which were jumping up and down to the beat of the music. How irritating.

So with this one I actually had two usability issues.

Number one was no obvious way of shutting off the music. If you are going to put music on your site (which you REALLY shouldn’t) then at least have the courtesy to have some kind of visual indicator, like a MUTE button or ‘Sound Off’ text (such as the image below – though on this other site it is there, it is very hard to see – yet another usability issue)

Number two was even when I figured out how to mute the music, I literally had to make sure to click in a very precise spot on the equalizer graphic that was moving. This could have been easily fixed by making the actual clickable area the entire graphic area vs. each of the graphic bars which were small and moving.

So the moral is…if you HAVE to play music on your site, make sure there is an obvious place for us to turn it off. Better yet, give it as an option but don’t auto-play, therefore as a visitor I can decide whether I need to be more entertained or not.

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 12/5/2013 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments