Chapter 7: Applied Sound Design
This chapter is about applied sound design. We’ll cover a series of industries that can benefit from sound design, stories from those who work in it, and patterns and principles you can use to improve user experience.
Common Activities and Challenges
Often, by the time sound in a product is considered, the hardware requirements have already been set. If this is the case, the limitations of that hardware may be a strong design driver, whether you like it or not.
There are many touchpoints for sound in products. Some will have a greater impact than others.
Some design guidelines:
• Use language that users understand. Stay away from lingo, jargon and technical terms that would make sense to the company but not to the end user.
• Do not overload the user with too much information at once.
• If you’re creating an audio menu, limit the number of menu options. Audio is linear, time-sensitive and transient, unlike the Web and other visual feedback media in which users can take time to read, process and select. Research has shown that remembering more than five options from an audio menu is taxing for most users. Users will often listen to all choices before picking one, so a long list limits their ability to remember them all.
People notice if sound and motion aren’t in sync. A product with well-tuned sensory outputs is more likely to feel like its own thing; to have an identity or possibly an aura of its own.