These days people are coming out of their shells and sharing their feelings. Perhaps more than they ever have, and its a good thing too! We need to communicate as best we can because we are moving into a more virtual method of interaction. This will likely last well beyond social distancing and remain in place once we return to ‘normal’, whatever that is.
How we say hello, how we express ourselves, how we utilize tone is going to become even more important than ever before. With less face to face communication we will be lacking in body language. This leaves a big hole in our perception of other peoples emotions. This goes both ways; how we interpret people and how people interpret us. Its time for us to be very mindful of how we sound. Its not necessarily ‘what’ we’re saying but ‘how’ we’re saying it.
This applies to our technology as well. It goes without saying that all the devices around us will begin to take on a new ‘tone’. Before, a notification could be easily ignored or even be a source of annoyance. These days we may find that a notification sound could be the equivalent of a knock at the door from a visiting friend. An opportunity to connect. A most needed connection. This is something I’ve been preaching for a long time. Tone is everything. In my work, I aim to express the emotion that my clients want their customers to ‘feel’. Much like music, UX Sound Design (audio feedback, interaction audio…whatever you want to call it) will need to be very focused. One of the first questions I ask when kicking off with a new client is “How do you want your user to feel when they hear this sound”. Its the tone of voice of your product. Its the front line of communication when a user is not focused on the device.
UX Designers strive to remove the friction for a user. They also move beyond the layout and focus on the emotional ‘experience’ of using a product. As UX Sound Designers we also need to move beyond the functional and into the realm of emotions. Simply having a sound let us know that our food is ready or that we have a new notification isn’t enough. We need begin designing audio experiences that are emotionally contextually aware. We need to create dynamic sound sets that give the user more information about the alert. As AI begins to decode our feelings, its important that we let these systems express these feelings in how they notify us. Allowing computers to have ’emotional pass-thru’ will be pivotal in allowing us to have deeply meaning asynchronous communication.
On that note, stay healthy, stay happy, and drop me a line! I look forward to the notification!