Do Websites Need More Sound?

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headphonesAll of the design elements come together to form the overall experience for visitors to your website. In the design community there is an ongoing debate about the use of sound. While sound can be used effectively to enhance the user experience, it can also detract from the user experience. The key is to achieve the right balance.

We have all been to websites where the sounds are annoying and detract from the site’s professionalism. Background music that loads automatically is one of the biggest abuses of sound on a website. While it can be used effectively to achieve certain design objectives, background music should be avoided in most website designs.

While some sound elements can detract from the usability of a website, others can make design elements more intuitive. Button clicks can provide audible confirmation of actions by a website user. These sounds are particularly helpful for mobile device users. It gives them an audible confirmation of the actions they are performing on a website in a format where button clicks are more difficult to achieve than on a full-sized keyboard.

However, even button sounds can be misused. Button sound effects for when a user scrolls over the buttons are usually a bad design choice. They are distracting and can quickly become irritating for users.

Ultimately, when considering a sound element for your website, you need to consider whether the element will enhance or detract from its usability. Look at your existing website. Does it have any sounds that could be an annoyance? Could it benefit from sounds that would make actions more intuitive?

In general, most websites do not need more sound. Instead, you might consider adding video, social media feeds and other interactive elements to your website. These elements will make your site more engaging.

What steps can you take to enhance your website’s usability?

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