Was reading the Nielsen & Norman article about usability in touchable big screens and suddenly I found that "term". After Google research still nothing really clear, could someone help me to understand that please?

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    Can you link to the article? Hard to know precisely without context. But aural is just stuff you listen to, as opposed to written or visual information.
    – JonW
    Oct 17, 2016 at 15:59
  • "Aural" just means something you hear, just like "Visual" means something you see. When you click your mouse, the click sound you hear is aural feedback. Something reacting on the screen would be a form of visual feedback. Errors that pop up with some type of alert sound, that's also aural feedback.
    – user8889
    Oct 17, 2016 at 17:19
  • thanks both of you guys, here is the article @JonW nngroup.com/articles/very-large-touchscreen-ux-design Oct 17, 2016 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


I don't know the context, but generally speaking, in visual interfaces with aural enhancements, you have 2 parts: one is the Aural Aid, which is the set of instructions provided to the user in an aural form before or while the process is being performed.

Sometimes, Aural Aid is called Aural Feedback, but more specifically, Aural Feedback (as you may infer from the word) is the result of the performed operation. Besides this difference, there's a conceptual one: Aural Aid may or may not result in an user interaction, while Aural Feedback is ALWAYS the result of an user interaction.

Also, keep this in mind: while many people thinks Aural Aid or Feedback are solutions for visually impaired people, this is not necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, in most cases this doesn't help visually impaired people at all, unless there's some special device with tactile controls, or you can control the device by voice (which doesn't seem to be your case )

EDIT: I thought it was a common word, probably because in my native language it's pretty common. Anyways, Aural basically means.... "Hearing" , although I think the Aural word is more suitable because its description relates to the channels of the brain and how usability is developed upon that. This is why the main usability controls are usually called visual perception (sight), haptics (tactile) and aural (hearing)

See an example of Audio Feedback in a Visuo-Haptic device

EDIT 2: Fede Crespo, now that I see the article, its' basically what I said above: You communicate a response based on user interaction to excite brain channels by replacing stimuli. In this case, the article suggests that haptic commands should be aided by visual and aural responses so the brain clearly interprets the command is (for example) a button, and by touching it, something happened in response, replacing tactile/haptic feedback.

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    Thank you Devin!! I'm starting to see the light, thanks a lot! Oct 17, 2016 at 16:19
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    @Devin Good answer for when/how to use aural feedback, but I for one still had to Google "aural" afterward to know what we're even talking about. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I think a brief definition could help the answer.
    – DasBeasto
    Oct 17, 2016 at 17:18
  • @DasBeasto, edited, thank you for teh suggestion :)
    – Devin
    Oct 17, 2016 at 18:10
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    An example is the "click" when you tap a button in a phone app. Oct 17, 2016 at 20:00
  • @KenMohnkern, that's a perfect example
    – Devin
    Oct 17, 2016 at 20:28

Put more simply, there are a number of aural feedbacks that I see commonly applied in UX design:

A. Feedback on input - classic examples are the sounds you get for tapping on a 'soft' keyboard (e.g. on a touch screen or mobile phone) to indicate that an action has been performed. This is usually to simulate a sound that would otherwise exist in a physical entity (i.e. an actual keypad).

B. Feedback on completion - classic examples are when the system is processing something and it requires some waiting time (and that the user's attention is probably elsewhere), a sound is produced once the process is completed.

C. Feedback requiring action - probably not really a feedback as such, but say for example an alarm that you set on a device goes off, or someone calls you on the phone and it has a specific ring tone are all examples.


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