The Role of Audio in the UX Design Process

ux design process

Do you find yourself inspired by film or game sound design and want to integrate audio into your website?

Maybe you’re wondering if audio could help or hurt the conversion rate of your site.

While the UX design process is primarily focused upon visuals, audio can play a large role in the performance of your website or app.

Let’s explore the ins-and-outs of sound in the design industry and how audio is changing the way designers and end-users think about a product.

The UX Design Process is Evolving

Gone are the days of basic HTML websites that featured MIDI instrument versions of pop ballads.

The familiar sounds from AOL Instant Messenger are gone as well.

As technology changed, the way web developers considered audio in the UX design process evolved as well.

Even the audio in Facebook’s messenger has changed over the years.

Context is Key

Much of the audio related changes in the UX design process occurred because of changes in the way consumers use technology.

Now, rather than being tied to a PC in their bedroom, users take technology on the go with laptops and mobile devices.

Obtrusive audio from websites and apps can be disruptive in public spaces, so there is a trend towards minimalism in sound design.

Furthermore, audio accessories need to be considered as part of the context in the design process.

Audio may be more prevalent for companies with users on high-end speakers, rather than consumers who spend more time listening on the new headphones they found on Headphones Addict.

The Voice Matters

Now that we’ve discussed changes in user behavior, consider the actual audio content involved in the design process.

From Siri’s witty remarks on the iPhone to the simple beep of messenger chat boxes popular on B2B and B2C websites, consideration for the end user is always key.

For example, in a fitness app on a mobile device, it would be more encouraging to have the voice of a well-known fitness influencer walk through the workouts than a robotic voice.

On the other hand, the seatbelt alert in your car might be better served as a slightly annoying tone, instead of voice recording, to remind you to buckle up.

The Accessibility of Sound

Technology without borders will allow audio to have an impact in situations where visuals are not as crucial.

In the fitness app example above, the app could be a simple stopwatch app that really serves no visual purpose. In this situation, the audio becomes the defining feature of the software.

Furthermore, audio in software applications could benefit consumers that are visually impaired.

Imagine an update to Apple’s iBooks or Safari apps that reads downloaded books or websites to the user. The possibilities in that realm are endless.

Audio Is The New Frontier

As technology advances, devices become more portable, and software is further integrated into daily life, audio in the UX design process will continue to change.

Have you noticed sound design in software or a mobile app that you would like to imitate?

Wondering how audio ties back into SEO?

We’d love to discuss your ideas, so feel free to reach out!