Is there a standard or research on optimal cooldown times for audio notifications? I have a group chat application that can optionally make a sound for every received message, but it can get really noisy when the chat is super active, like during a live event. I'd like to introduce a cooldown (i.e. when triggering the sound, skip it if the sound has been played in the last second), but I don't know how long to make it, or if this is a good idea at all. Maybe it could make the chat feel inconsistent if users saw messages popping up sometimes with and sometimes without the sound.

I know I'm not the first to think of this, but I didn't find any conclusive guidance. Any thoughts?

1 Answer 1


Taking as a base a research study from Nielsen: 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design


Take 2 principles in consideration:

#1: Visibility of system status

"The design should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time."

#4: Consistency and standards

"Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform and industry conventions."

What this means is that as we change the dynamics and flows we force the user to learn new things making our application harder to use and understand, more if we take the decision in their place.

That being said I wouldn't take the approach to not add the sound to the notifications, but rather enable a function to silence them as many messenger do; for an hour, a week, forever..., if you really want to keep them add a configuration setting where the user can change the alert message from sound to visual after x consecutive messages but let the user take that decision and action. You can also suggest it after x consecutive received notifications.

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