Week 929

It's Week 929! This week I was aboslutely inspired by an article on Sound in UX design, and started thinking and playing about how we could apply this.

Many of our apps PLAY sound. We run an ecommerce platform for bands. We run iOS, Android, and web apps that let you listen to nuns singing Gregorian chant. We even have an app where you can apply to join a music label. Heck, one year we built an online synthesizer to support a short story. But we never really use sound to communicate to the user. No feedback sounds, no confirmation dings, nothing. Why?

Well, to start with, it's probably my bias as a person who loves the web. I want visuals and text on my websites, and I don't love it when things make noise. I listen to music most of the day. When some app somewhere is making a sound, it's usually because there's a problem and I need to find it. The little game of 'which tab is making noise' is not usually a fun one!

This comes a bit more naturally in native apps. It's not a surprise when my iPhone apps ding and click and bweeeep at me. But I never even think to add those sounds when we're designing apps! It's a real blind spot.

But sound CAN be used well in user experiences, right? I think first and foremost we should explore where it can be a good feedback mechanism. How could we start using sound to help a user know *what* they've done and *whether it was the right thing to do*? I suppose sound can make warnings more alarming. It can make confirmations more confirmy.

And presumably, it can enrich the *vibes* of an experience, too, right? Like beyond just an efficient *beep* or *whoosh* to let you know something happened, those sounds have a character of their own, which should match the brand's experiential look and feel. Heck, we use that term, look-and-feel, but most of the time we're just going on looks-and-visual-behavior, aren't we?

A thing to think about for the summer: how can we play with sound in a way that makes for a richer experience?