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Adding Some Bells and Whistles to Your eBay Listing

Any extras that you add to your eBay listings have some looming pitfalls. The first is that the more complexity you introduce in your listings, the greater the potential for a problem with the page displaying properly. Additionally, the multimedia approach can significantly increase the amount of time it takes for your listing to load. The longer the wait, the greater the chance that your customer will get tired of waiting (or get annoyed with unwanted details or frills) and go elsewhere to make the purchase.

Animating your graphics

Animated images can be eye-catching for eBay shoppers, but (for the sake of your sales — and okay, as a public service) consider all the facts about the impact of including animation in your listings. For example, offering shoppers a slideshow is an effective way to display multiple images of your merchandise. But don't use this feature without understanding that every one of those multiple images still has to be downloaded before the slideshow can begin. In effect, the only real advantage to using a slideshow — versus displaying all images right in your listing — is to reduce the amount of screen space taken up by the images.

It's wise to approach the use of animation with some trepidation. Besides the obvious potential for annoying your customer, there is a small danger that if your animation uses high contrast or flashing images, it can cause seizures in users who have photosensitive epilepsy. If you decide to use animation, be sure that the look is smooth — not flickering — and that the images change at a slow speed.

Playing some music

Sometimes providing a sound clip for your customer might help convince them to purchase your merchandise — especially if you sell (say) music boxes, CDs, or dolls that sing. Any of these items make good candidates for providing small sound files (recorded from the item itself) in your listing — but make sure the customer has the option to listen to them or not.

Don't include a continuously looping recording of your favorite song as background music for your listings. Another inadvisable use of audio is including a song that is related in some way to your merchandise. Honestly, a rousing patriotic march won't provide additional information about the political buttons you have for sale — nor will a lullaby be the focal selling point for your handmade baby items. Customers who get clobbered with unwanted sound are less inclined to buy.

When you want to include an appropriate sound file in your listing — to be played on demand — use the following HTML command:

<a href="http://www.yourisp.com/youraudiofile.wav">Click here</a> to listen to the music!

Yep, it's just an anchor link to an external file location — where you uploaded the audio file. You can put this link anywhere you'd like in your description.

Telling your story with speech

Although an overbearing speech can be as irritating as unwanted music, you might want to include a brief sound bite to emphasize a specific feature of your listing, a special sale, or your terms and conditions. Avoid including a message that repeats over and over; this alone can make an otherwise-acceptable recording into a nuisance that drives your customer out the door!

If you are using a product that offers computer-generated speech, be sure to listen to the recording before you include it in your listing to gauge pronunciation and sound quality.

Any information presented to the customer as an audio file must also be included in your listing text because some shoppers either don't have speakers or don't routinely leave them turned on.

Streaming video to the bidder

Streaming video is becoming more and more "visible" — not so much in terms of visual clarity (though that's usually fine), but rather as a prevalent capability on the Web. Recently NBC has begun making its nightly news broadcasts available online in streaming video format. This probably doesn't mean we'll all start watching television on our computers, but it is an indication of how common streaming video on the Internet has become.

As with sound clips, providing a video clip for your customers might sometimes help convince them to purchase your merchandise. If you're selling (say) a video you produced yourself, a robot, a doll that walks and talks — any of these would be candidates for putting small video files in your listing.

As you can imagine, audio and video files are more than 100 times the size of still images. Rather than requiring large files to be downloaded prior to viewing (or listening), streaming media technology is the best solution. When audio, video, or both are streamed, they are retrieved in compressed form and viewed as they arrive on the viewer's computer. This is accomplished by a player, which is either integrated into the browser being used, or an additional program which starts up when the media starts to download. Most computers come with one or more media players already installed. Should you decide to use streaming media, one of the factors to keep in mind is whether it is capable of being played by the most common of the media players on your customers' computers.

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