Web applications. Time for sound?

I’ve been thinking recently about reintroducing sound events into some of our web applications. The web has moved on from midi files as background music, and sounds on ever button with a web page. We’ve become more grown up when it comes to multimedia.

But perhaps now is the time for adding complimentary sounds to a web application.

Desktop applications have never really lost the sounds – particularly instant message systems such as MSN or Skype, to denote events. Perhaps event driven sounds are the way forward within a web app. Logon / Logoff sounds or for delete actions. When coupled with AJAX, preloaded sounds may actually enhance the user experience. As desktop applications become web applications and vice versa, I recon that more and more people will start to look at embedding small sounds alongside javascript.

Finding the right sounds for the job is aways a bit of a chore. I’ve found some useful sounds (in Apple AIF format) over at Adium (an IP app for Mac). Tokyo Train Station and Electric dream themes are particularly unobtrusive.


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  1. I do love the idea, and soon that I read your post I just thought about adding the Apple mail send sound to my finance web app when a user sends an email to a client :)

    That would be just amazing as a user experience point of view.

  2. Hi Bruno, thanks for your comments. Personally speaking, I think that on sending an email to a client – a sound would be slightly intrusive..

    Receiving on the other hand, would be more beneficial. Especially if the user was doing something else at the time and the sound “alerted”.

  3. Maybe you right, but the email sending acts in the background and all they get is a message in the alerts “zone” … Soon they ear the sound, they sure it was send. Danish are weird (I’m Portuguese living here), so bear with me :)

  4. I love TuxPaint. I don’t do much with it, it is billed as a kid’s pain program – but astonishingly fun to play with, especially if you load the ‘stamps’, too.

    What I really love? The penguin sounds when you exit the program. I guess some of us are just really easily amused.

    I can imagine a mild, low-key sound for leaving the page, or for clicking an icon for an enlarged image. Maybe a slight ‘tsk’ sound when a page (finally) finishes loading. Or when you click ‘submit’ on a comment – something other than the old ‘retching’ sound or a toilet flushing, please. Please, not the ‘fingernails on slate’ blackboard sound, or a wolf howl or whistle. Well, maybe a whistled “Yellow Rose of Texas.” Maybe a kitten purring. Or a bowling ball sliding into the pocket for a strike. Or even a ‘thank you’ from the site author.

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