Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Turn the sound off! A romantic site that ruins the mood

In every issue of our print publication, the Internet Marketing Report we review a Web site. In the July 11 issue, we got in the mood for summer by reviewing LittlePalmIsland.com.

Unless you’re last in line for a vacation, take a look at the way LittlePalm
uses images to get prospects drooling over the prospect of its luxurious and romantic resort in the Florida Keys.

It’s pitching its facilities as “picture perfect.”

And it uses images to back up this claim without paying the usual price. Many sites use large image and Flash files, only to find the Flash is preventing their site from being found by search engines and the images are slowing the site.

The good news is that Flash is no longer the black hole it used to be.
Google’s just announced improvements that will let it index sites with Flash.

LittlePalmIsland avoids all these problems with some technical wizardry. Its experts obviously mastered Flash before Google even made that announcement. The secret? The home page may look like a home page but it isn’t. It is really a fast and light site map of only 11k that invisibly redirects a prospect to Flash images.

The result? The site is fast, it gets top search results from its well-optimized, text-based home page while using fantastic images to lure prospects to click around.

To ensure they load quickly, the site’s reduced image size without affecting quality. Some nice touches are the photo gallery, the virtual tours (that showcase even more gorgeous photos) and the way the company calls the section dealing with cancellations, "Island customs" while general services are listed under "Romantic Turndowns."

Our only gripe was the music.
That raises the question: Does music really add to most sites?

If you are thinking about using introductory music or audio on your home page, it’s probably worth testing pages with audio and without, a simple A/B test.

The music on LittlePalmIsland comes on automatically. And to my mind, it turned a dreamy site into a nightmare in a minute.

At first, it’s a perfect match for the dreamy images, recreating the ambiance of a luxurious summer vacation.

That’s OK until the music begins to annoy. Why run the risking of scaring a prospect away by forcing him or her to listen to music (or even your welcome message) over and over again?

Here are some tips for sites using audio or music:

• Let prospects turn on the sound instead of forcing them to hunt around for the off switch, which eluded me.

• If prospects don’t have the ability to turn music off, limit the time.

• Enlarge the size of the button to turn off the sound. This site’s audio switch seemed to blend in to the background, or

• Don’t have audio. Sounds off please.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online blog editor Julie Power on Tuesday July 15 at 6 a.m.


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