I'm a geek about input and output. I've written about new input before
and made some passing references to new forms of output
. One specifically struck me recently as being under-explored, and worth a look. Sound.
Humans beings are accustomed to aural feedback – very possibly more so than almost any other stimuli...sight may win out, but not by as much as we might think. Most machinery or equipment we use makes use of sound to tell us things: microwaves beep, phones ring, and cars have all manner of chimes and noises. Even on computers we're used to audio feedback. Many applications make effective use of sound to let you know an operation has completed successfully or to alert you to a problem.
The basis of web output. It's everywhere.
Barely used, and that's sad.
Not used on the web. Probably don't want to go down this road.
Or this road.
Maybe this road.
|The five senses and where we use them on the web.|
The Web, on the other hand, makes very little use of sound – and when it does, it's usually obnoxious. I can't speak for everyone but any site that autostarts background music (especially, God help us all, MIDI music) gets the instant back button. So why would I campaign for more sound on sites? Because while sound and music can be obnoxious they can also be effective
– it's all in the execution.
You could argue that we already get audio feedback from web sites, all the time. Mouse clicks and keyboard clicks are an audible indicator that we've taken an action or clicked on something. Does that tell me what I've done? Have I clicked on something that will carry out an action? I have no idea. With AJAX gaining popularity we've actually lost an indicator – the page refresh has always been a stark, obvious visual cue that we've gone somewhere...now we may not even have that.
Sound is powerful, and familiar. Computers have had speakers for decades now and with good reason. And while the instances of sound we encounter on the Web may be annoying, that's no reason for us to dismiss one of our primary senses out of hand. Let's look into effective ways to use sound to enhance Web experiences. The tools and opportunities are here, we just need to get on board.
Any great examples of effective sound use on the 'tubes? We'd love to hear about them.