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TALKINGSITES WEB SITE AUDIO
by: Dane Scott
People love pantomimes because they can communicate so cleverly without ever
uttering a sound. I find them fascinating. But imagine what the
world would be like if all our entertainment, conversation, and
advertising was done in pantomime. Aside from giving us a new
appreciation for clown-white face paint, we'd probably tire of it rather
quickly.

The truth of the matter is, the Internet is still very much like the
great mimist Marcel Marceau. Expressive, colorful, animated, and stone
cold silent. Are there exceptions? Certainly. MP3 music sites, some
news sites, and a growing number of radio stations are making those
little desktop speakers come to life. But for the huge majority of
sites, including nearly all the millions of business sites, the silence
is deafening.

Why is that? There are several reasons, the greatest of which is a
simple lack of awareness about the potential that exists in web audio.
Our exposure to audio on the web has been so limited up until now that
it's difficult to even imagine how to use it. Likewise, most web
designers have not been exposed to an understanding of web audio's power and
potential, and thus, have never considered recommending it to their clients. Another
reason for the shortage of audio is the huge number of sites which were constructed
before web audio was practical, or even a
consideration.

Why be different?

How is the addition of audio content valuable to you and your company?

It sells. A well-worded, well-produced clip of audio accompanying each
clickable product on your site makes those products more exciting, and
gives the potential purchaser more reasons to buy.

It convinces. For example, imagine the power of using the actual voices
of your customers, telling their own testimonial stories about the
quality of your products and services.

It builds image. The style and delivery of a spoken message can make a
very personal statement about you as a company. In addition, when your
web visitors are greeted by a rich selection of audio options, the
impression it leaves is that your company is a step-ahead. It is an
instant distinction between your web site and your competition's, which
is unlikely to have any audio whatsoever.

It teaches. Our aural receptors stimulate our brain to action in ways
our eyes never will. That's why we're tempted to read aloud when faced
with a difficult set of instructions. That same phenomenon occurs in all
aural messages, making it easier for customers to comprehend value and
buy, remote staff to learn over the net, clients to understand technical
support information, etc.

It eliminates clutter. You may have more to say than you can justify
displaying onscreen. By letting people click on certain points for more
details, you keep clutter down, while making your expanded points in a
more compelling way.

It leverages existing resources. If you have radio ads already produced
up, get double duty out of them! There are effective ways to put those
right on your site.

It encourages return visits. Sites which visitors find more interesting
are the ones that get bookmarked and revisited. Web audio combined with
a regular refreshing of your visual content is a way to keep 'em coming
back for more.

What to do?

First, it's important to understand that web audio is best supplied in
liquid form. It's what they call "streaming audio." The explanation is
simple. Generally, when we download a file from a web site, we must
wait for all of it to arrive before we can use it. In that sense, it's
rather like a solid block. "Streaming audio," on the other hand,
trickles to you across the Internet as you are listening to it. You
don't have to wait for it to download. That makes it a quick, practical
way to deliver audio over the Internet.

The last thing you want to force your visitors to have to do is visit a
web site somewhere to download an obscure audio player plug-in before
they can begin accessing sound on your site, so I generally recommend
Real Audio, which is the format most widely playable by the web browsers
currently in use.

This will sound self-serving, but I am convinced the best way to add
audio to your web site is to have someone do it professionally. Just as
a company would be mistaken to hire an inexperienced person to design
their web site itself, or to lay out a sales brochure, it's equally
unwise to attempt to add audio to your own site. There are issues of
equipment, acoustics, equalization, encoding, and integration which are
far better left to someone who has the skill and experience to do it
right. My advice is to check around, listen carefully to the quality of
what each service offers, and consider their degree of experience and
expertise.

Adding audio to your company's web site lets you stand out from the
crowd and get noticed. Unlike all the the white-faced, arm-waving,
silent clowns on the Internet, your company's audio-rich web site
demonstrates to the world that you have something to say and you
know how to say it.

About the Author

Dane Scott is a 23 year veteran voice-over announcer who has recorded TV and
radio voice work around the world. He operates a professional production facility
where he creates audio for the internet industry.
To contact Dane: sales@talkingsites.com
To check out "talkingsites.com" www.talkingsites.com