Hot answers tagged

238

Because it is almost always annoying. You probably recognize this situation: You’re surfing the web looking for inspiration, you click on some links, monitor your Twitter feed, and open pages in the background for later review. Suddenly your computer starts to scream! It’s some rock song, very loud and unrecognizable because of it’s way-too-low bit rate. ...


121

My understanding was that it came from a time when startup could take a while, during which the user's attention would be elsewhere and therefore worth notifying them when the computer was ready for use. Something similar was mentioned in answer to another question: The Operating System took so long to start up that the chime notified people that it ...


71

Context is important here. Sound feedback can be very useful when people need or expect it. The ATM. That annoying credit card pad that only accepts a button push every 3rd time at the pharmacy check out line. A cash register. And maybe it can be important for your web site, but realize that that is a very atypical behavior and not something your users are ...


40

I think the other hand question is why sound is used on Skype login, and the answer is because the way we usually use Skype. Considering that Skype is one of the most common (if not the ONE MOST common) application to make online audio and video conferences, playing a brief sound on logging in is a way to check if audio is currently on and well configured. ...


32

Part of it is iconic branding, much like putting the logo on the boot screen. I can still remember the startup sound from windows xp and playstation one.


31

Many of the other answers touch on very good points, but I will add something that I did not see mentioned to the proper degree. Respect. For both the user, and others who might be near them. Keeping in mind that the internet is not something that is only used when you're at home in a secluded space focused completely upon the computer screen, the ...


28

Put on a song that you know, and have someone hit pause and play at random times, then have them randomly turn the volume up and down. Lowering the volume, rather than pausing the music, is less disruptive to the user. Your brain can fill in the gaps in music they are listening to if they are even somewhat familiar with it (it's why people can listen to ...


28

I like Benny Skogberg's answer, and I agree with his advice, but I wanted to elaborate on the specifics of what makes sound annoying. The main problem with sound is that it is inherently very intrusive. A banner ad can be ignored relatively easily to reach content, and even a popup can be ignored by switching to a different window. A sound playing from a ...


28

To give auditory feedback to the user that the system has started loading. Here are 3 reasons why: Prevent users from hitting the power button multiple times. Users should not wonder whether the system is starting or not. If there was no starting sound how would users know that the system has successfully started? They might press the power button a ...


20

Beeps during POST are there to help with troubleshooting. Think of it like debugging: if you can't tell why your script isn't working or where, it helps to have it echoing its status along the way in a very verbose manner so it becomes apparent where the issue is. It's like a ping. POST does a lot of simple things very quickly to test itself (this is all in ...


16

I would ordinarily not offer an opinion here (as I am just barely worthy to read this site), but I would remind everyone that while the vast majority of users are sighted, introducing sounds can interfere with visually impaired users. If you do add sound (which I think is an excellent idea), please make sure that you include a way for those with difficulties ...


13

Tradition is important. If you think in terms of web 1.0 there are far fewer events that might logically need sound. A couple of examples of when someone might put sound in, but it wouldn't add much if anything: You log in/fail to log in; a page loads (this could be done in the browser, I have an idea there was an option/add-on for this in netscape). About ...


12

Playing sounds can be useful when showing error messages, information dialog boxes etc. However... It is not the responsibility of your application to force the user to hear these sounds. This is something that must be configurable by the user, and since most operating systems already have such a configuration possibility, I see no added value in creating ...


12

Annoying is the key here. Just to add another common (to me) use case. I open many browser tabs relatively quickly when I'm looking at news sites. I'll see a headline I'm interested in, right click to open in new tab then read the next headline, etc. Similarly, on this site I just went through the 'hot questions' links and this is the first of 8 questions ...


12

Asides from old systems and their delay times at start, or branding considerations (both correct reasons), one reason that I might add is that it serves as a Sensory Cue. This is true both for blind or impaired vision users, in which startup sound is of paramount importance (this sound is the only indication they have in order to know that the system is "...


10

Back in the day when Flash first became popular, we had an endless list of website using sound. It was really annoying and everyone hated it. Before that there was MIDI background music on GeoCities/MySpace pages, which was likewise an object of much scorn. Almost everyone (except marketers and angsty teenagers) agreed that the best amount of sound on a ...


9

Sound effects are a type of attraction to the user, true. But take care of the following things while implementing sound: The sound should be pleasant, which means it should not be annoying or irritating. Different people have different preferences. Be aware of that. People working working at offices prefer silence. If a user opens your website and a sound ...


8

You can't count on sound being on, it isn't accessible to every user, and it can be distracting and downright annoying for apps used over long periods. These reasons make it time consuming and somewhat expensive to get right. If you have to choose between a new feature and some kind of branding you're not sure is ever going to be noticed most often ...


7

You've mentioned that a technician could have plugged a speaker into the modem, but many problems with modems were of a non-technical nature: Phone number was engaged. Wrong number and a person was answering the phone. Best to know about it early rather than continually calling back. Phone number kept ringing indicating a problem at the other end. General ...


7

As someone who listens to music and radio a lot while I work, I have the main volume on my computer set to a level I find comfortable - this control over-rides any embedded sound or video for websites - If the websites adjusted their sound to, for arguments sake, 50% then their volume level would be 50% of my comfortable listening level: comparatively quiet ...


6

Playing a sound is useful when there's a chance that the user will miss the notification from the application. For example, Skype play a sound everytime you receive a message. Otherwise, there's also the flashy icon that helps the user to notice the message. So, in my opinion the best thing would be use both visual and sound notification. Remember also to ...


6

The choice of which is better is mostly personal. I know some people prefer the one and other people prefer the other. Either one is a fair choice, so ask some of your users and then make a decision on the default behaviour based on their feedback. I would however recommend having an option in your app for how to handle the situation. In addition to ...


6

Most people don't have an external amplifier or control on their audio output, so you can't assume it is there. You then need two other controls. One master control to set the desired global range of all your applications, and local controls for each application to set their sound relative to your global setting. If you tried to remove either one of these,...


6

Sound is like the Blink & Marquee tags - it may seem like a great idea to the page designer, but most users will hate it (while a few might like). I.e., you will create a lot of ill will with a lot of people at the price of a little good will with a few. Do not do it.


6

Good question, it has bugged me in the past. From W3C - Audio Control:Understanding SC 1.4.2, it seems that pages that do not offer sound control, or mute, functionality are not adhering to the criterion. Summarising the link: 1.4.2 Audio Control: If any audio on a Web page plays automatically for more than 3 seconds, either a mechanism is available to ...


6

No; it's uncommon and would lead users to thought that action has been already performed after mouseover, rather than indicate possibility of clicking. Also, note that volume control in vast majority of cases is under control of user and it's often the case it's just set to 0. I would suggest: Underlining, changing background, changing/emphasizing typeface ...


6

Because you have somewhat two to five seconds for convincing a typical web visitor that it makes sense to give attention to your website. During such a short time, it is not possible to play or say something impressive or convincing (apart the scream of death maybe but this does not suite well for every topic). Text and graphics simply serve better for ...


6

In addition to all the answers already given, I'd say that many users often have a lot of tabs open. I have 10 tabs open right now. Imagine if all those tabs started making sound.


6

The ambiguity of toggle buttons As for the pause button, this is part of the inherit state/action ambiguity that is inherent with toggle buttons. See this answer and this thread for more. Command vs Query From a cognitive perspective, the question a designer needs to ask is whether the user will be in query or command mode. In query mode, the user wishes ...


6

Branding. Of course there are other reasons to include it, like letting the user know the hardware is working, start up is finished and they can interact with the computer, etc. but it is an extremely powerful branding tool. It is familiar, it becomes expected, and if it's a good one, it can evoke strong feelings in us (see for instance http://gizmodo.com/...


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