Categories: Developers / Mobile Apps

Mobile app developers love crafting well-rounded apps. Ones that feel, look and respond the way we expect. But how about sound? Sound effects are a crucial part of great app design. They offer feedback on our actions and help alert us to notifications. They create a special aesthetic world for our app. And yet all too often sound gets short shrift.

Let’s take a look at what to consider when creating sound for your mobile app.

Sounds, not compositions: ie, keep it simple

Mobile app developers should keep sound simple.

Mobile app developers should keep sound simple.

One of the things about app sounds is that they occur frequently and repeatedly. You can create the most wonderful sound in the world, but if it’s loud and obtrusive, your users are going to switch to silent. Go with short, simple and subtle. Users will appreciate it – and your sound will work more harmoniously with others across the app.

Pleasant, not jarring: think of your users’ ears

Your sound design will depend on the type of app you’re creating. That said, you’re designing for a wide audience, so think universal. Aim for sounds that are warm, friendly and accessible rather than jarring computer blips or heavily distorted sounds. And don’t forget to consider how the sounds within your app work together. Are they cohesive and in-tune? Or do they clash?

Hush up now: or, do you really need that sound?

Sounds are great for offering users feedback and for helping to flesh out the world of your app. But they’re more intrusive than images, videos or vibrations. Especially in public. Just as you would with your visual design, make sure that every sound really earns its place in your app. Visual clutter is painful, but sonic clutter is even worse.

What’s that? Or, does your sound mean what they think it does?

Right tone, right place is key.

App sound design: right tone, right place is key.

We associate certain tones with certain actions or activities. A tone that goes up indicates anticipation, while one that goes down can suggest completion. An abrupt tone might mean a hard stop or an error. Mobile app developers should make sure that their soundscape reflects user expectations about what certain sounds should mean.

Form, meet function. Craft sounds that do something

Sound for sound’s sake is poor design. Ideally your sound should have some sort of purpose. Maybe it indicates a successful post, a completed purchase or a messaged received. These all provide useful feedback to the user about the status of a given action of the app.

Play it again, Sam. Does your sound pass the repeat test?

Repetition can breed contempt. That great sound can become a teeth-grinding earworm over time. Put your tone on repeat, and see if it still works for you. If you start wincing, it’s probably time to revisit your app’s sound design.

Mobile app developers should always test their sound

Last, but not least. Sound is a huge part of your mobile app, so put it to the test. See how your users respond to it. If they switch their phone to silent or seem confused by a tone, you might want to rethink. If, on the other hand, your sound design informs and rounds out the app experience, you’re in business!

Touchtap is a digital agency specializing in mobile-first development.We can build your mobile app for you.

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