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The Importance of Audio

Even for Those Lucky Enough to have Vision!

by D1J1T — in Audio — Updated: Mar 4, 2014 at 9:46 am

Most websites don't contain any audio.

Various reasons exist for the lack of sound. Some include, bandwidth, file types/sizes/compatibility with systems/browsers. Another reason however may be that your web programmer might not be familiar with the proper implementation of audio within a web page. As with video, sometimes its just a matter of embedding the file. Other types, and probably in most cases, the company simply didn't budget (or even consider) audio for their website. But why? With most people on high speed Internet connections, why is this an issue?

More often than not, its cost. Sure, you can find stock audio just like you can stock graphics. The same problem exists as with stock graphics: they often look (or in this case sound) generic. If they don't add to the UX in general, why bother?

What if your programmer/developer is familiar with audio editing software, can create music, record vocals (other), understands bit rates, frequencies, file types/filters, mixers, and signal processors? What if your programmer also understands audio frameworks that implement the software player properly, perhaps not including it on mobile devices (or maybe they implement different, or have a fallback) or machines with low bandwidth? Why not consider it? Many applications do, mobile included even of course, games, eLearning, and let's not forget, there are technologies created specifically for the visually impaired. Speech recognition software is becoming ever more popular. The fact is that an audio cue can often attract more attention than that bright flashy graphic even in certain cases.

Given the budget, I'd recommend implementing audio into every site I work on. This could mean simple action-based samples, ambient music, and/or full narration. Why? People enjoy movies with sound. Years from now, I'd imagine your web browsing experience to be more like changing your tv channel.

Simple samples used for "calls to action" can be used easily, are small in file size, and often surprise/excite the user when unexpected. If you're on a desktop, viewing a standard website, they WILL be unexpected...) A simple sample can have the same effect on a user as a beautiful flowing animation does. It can grab their attention and get them interested.

The more audio skills that your programmer/developer has, the better. And they should have some (software-specific) at least. Know if the programmer has the ability to do the following: record vocals and narration, manipluate samples, change bit rates, frequencies, has knowledge with libraries/frameworks for web audio that are compatible with the project specs. Why constantly pay recording studio rates when you have an in-house developer that can 1) easily convert that file 2) sample, edit, and sequence various sounds and/or 3) knows how to properly record voice-overs/narration? Of course you don't want to take them off of more pressing projects, however, realize the skills of your employees may extend beyond what they were specifically hired for. Don't take advantage of this, and certainly weigh options regarding their current projects. However, if this developer is currently awaiting to be tasked, perhaps consider using him or her more efficiently, in-house, versus a vendor that you may not be able to contact when needed or can't oversee properly.

If you find these articles to be helpful, I could always use another cup of coffee! Social media likes/+1s are also much appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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