The Importance of sound
Put the power of sound to work in your sites and applications
“sound, even more than visuals, is capable of making our mind believe we are in another world. It communicates on a deep level, directly tapping into our brains.” richard mattka award-winning interactive director, designer and developer
Sound is a critical element when making experiences engaging and compelling. If you need proof, try playing your favourite game or watching your favourite movie with the volume off. Ambient city noises, distant sirens, and low rumbling hums, drop you into the scene, even without the visuals. Sounds create the mood and set the pace of an interactive experience. Music enhances the suspense, ramps up the intensity, and ultimately triggers an emotional response, much more powerfully than visuals alone. Sound is capable of transporting us to another world as it communicates on a deep level, directly tapping into the brain. Psychology studies have found music and sound connect on a instinctive level in the brain, into our most primal selves. Immersive sites, such as world building models, in-world web experiences and games are greatly enhanced with great sound effects and musical scores. Sites and applications with engaging animations, dynamic visuals or 3D, depend on solid sound design. But, even the simplest sites can benefit from user feedback and meaningful signals through audio. In your projects, sounds can form part of the reward system in completing tasks. For example, sound effects that trigger with completing a puzzle make the act much more satisfying. A pleasant chime as a bar fills up, or as the user achieves a specific goal – these all work together to give short-term rewards, while the user works towards a larger goal. Sound can provide feedback, to complement visual feedback. Buttons make noises when clicked, a clicking metronome can count you in before recording. Sounds can help reinforce that something was done as a further way to acknowledge the user’s actions. A way to say ‘yes’ your interaction was received. In some cases, sounds can call out something in a visually busy landscape. In time critical applications, they can more rapidly communicate something faster than visuals might alone. User interfaces (UIS), since the earliest days of the command-line, have used sound effects in the form of simple audible beeps, to warn of errors. And today, apps such as Twitter or Facebook use well-placed sounds for notifications and alerts. Skype uses audio to facilitate communications. As we move into technologies away from screens, speech and gesture interfaces are increasingly dependent on audio input and feedback. Assistant software and tools such as Alexa and Siri give audio feedback fuelled by powerful artificial intelligence. Audio cues and speech recognition can also be used to create a better experience for those with disabilities or learning difficulties. With ever increasing support, bandwidth and networking power, now is the time to put the power of sounds and music to work in your sites and applications, through solid sound design.