About sound

Sound communicates information in ways that improve the user experience.


Principles

Sound communicates helpful feedback in ways that express a product’s personality and aesthetic.

Informative

Sound should be intuitive, functional, and understandable.

Honest

Sound should be an authentic representation of the product’s brand identity and aesthetic.

Reassuring

Sound should create a sense of comfort and security – only calling for action when needed.


Types of sound

The sounds in a UI should work like a well-coordinated orchestra, both with each other and within the surrounding interface.

Three types of sound occur in a UI: sound design, music, and voice. Each type communicates information and brand identity in different ways. Different types of sound can be used to create a particular effect, and multiple sounds can exist separately or together in the same UI.

While music and voice are part of a product’s soundscape, these guidelines focus on UX sound.

Sound design

The majority of a digital UI is conveyed in a visual way. Sound can augment how this information is expressed and provide another way to...

Read More

The majority of a digital UI is conveyed in a visual way. Sound can augment how this information is expressed and provide another way to connect with the user. Sound design can communicate information, express emotion, and educate users about interactions.

Sound design can be used to:

  • Associate a UI element with a specific sound
  • Express emotion or personality
  • Convey hierarchical structure, by associating interactions with certain sounds
  • Provide sensory feedback

Notifications express personality while conveying UI information.

Associating sound with a UI element can assure the user an action was completed successfully.

Sound can compliment the visual UI by accompanying actions.

Music

Music is primarily used for storytelling and expressing a mood in a UI. When paired with imagery or motion, music can elevate a product’s overarching...

Read More

Music is primarily used for storytelling and expressing a mood in a UI. When paired with imagery or motion, music can elevate a product’s overarching narrative and feeling.

Music can be used in a UI for:

  • Emotionally resonant contexts
  • Advertising
  • Providing moments of delight
  • Telling a story

Music can be used to express a mood in a UI.

Voice

Voice and text-to-speech both use spoken language to communicate information in places where sound design and music cannot. Voice can be used in a UI...

Read More

Voice and text-to-speech both use spoken language to communicate information in places where sound design and music cannot.

Voice can be used in a UI to:

  • Communicate complex information
  • Provide conversation and dialogue
  • Enhance tone and personality

Voice enables conversational interaction with the user.