Principles & types

»UX sound« consists of basic purpose and behavioural principles (why, when, where a sound element should be used) and UI sound elements for specific functions (what).

Basic purpose principles

All UI sound elements should serve a purpose and be designed with a specific intention. A meaningful ux sound is reduced to the minimum of necessary sounds and decorative elements that do not serve a purpose should be avoided.

Behavioural principles

Definitions of the basic UX sound personality and the charateristics of sound elements in an interaction.
»The buddy«: always direct help
»The butler«: always discrete and subtle

Basic functions and UI sound types

All UI sounds are informing (state, identity and other) in respective levels of escalation.

Examples of informing:
States: »open/closed«, »confirmed/declined«, »message arrived / sent / not sent«, »change modus«
Level determination (menu, energy etc.): »level x«

They can be perceived implicit (indicator, touch feedback)
or explicit (ringtone).

The UI sounds can be played active (interaction), as a reaction to a users action or passive (notification, system communicates a information).

The design elements can be (musical) tones, sound effects or verbal cues and prompts (voices).

UI sound types

  • Identification sound (startup/shutdown, welcome sound) / verbal identification
  • Notification sound / verbal notification
  • Micro feedback or micro interaction sound
  • Ringtone
  • Warn sound, alarm or alert sound / verbal warning

Branding aspect

Every UI sound becomes part of the holistic brand perception while using the product. This can be happening conscious (ringtones, notification sounds) or subconscious (micro interaction sounds).

Micro feedback (micro interaction sounds)
Short response sounds acknowledge the success of an tactile action, mostly in combination with a animation.

Earcons and Auditory icons
»Earcons« and »auditory icons« are acoustic cues that refer to a brand or condition.

Notification sounds
Notification sound provide information about the type or the status change.

Alerts and warnings
Alert and warning sounds report the occurrence of a critical state and require the user to intervene immediately.

UX voice
Voices are acoustic cues that people give the highest attention to.

Find more examples here