Designing Products With Sound: Principles and Patterns for Mixed Environments

Designing Products With Sound: Principles and Patterns for Mixed Environments

by Amber Case, Aaron Day
Designing Products With Sound: Principles and Patterns for Mixed Environments

Designing Products With Sound: Principles and Patterns for Mixed Environments

by Amber Case, Aaron Day


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Sound can profoundly impact how people interact with your product. Well-designed sounds can be exceptionally effective in conveying subtle distinctions, emotion, urgency, and information without adding visual clutter. In this practical guide, Amber Case and Aaron Day explain why sound design is critical to the success of products, environments, and experiences.

Just as visual designers have a set of benchmarks and a design language to guide their work, this book provides a toolkit for the auditory experience, improving collaboration for a wide variety of stakeholders, from product developers to composers, user experience designers to architects. You’ll learn a complete process for designing, prototyping, and testing sound.

In two parts, this guide includes:

  • Past, present, and upcoming advances in sound design
  • Principles for designing quieter products
  • Guidelines for intelligently adding and removing sound in interactions
  • When to use voice interfaces, how to consider personalities, and how to build a knowledge map of queries
  • Working with brands to create unique and effective audio logos that will speak to your customers
  • Adding information using sonification and generative audio

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491961100
Publisher: O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/13/2018
Pages: 245
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Amber Case studies the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way cultures think, act, and understand their worlds. Case has spoken, performed and written about the future of sound design at conferences and events around the world. Case is also the author of Calm Technology (O'Reilly, 2015). She lives in Portland, Oregon and online @caseorganic.

Aaron Day has been designing sound experiences and interfaces since 1998. He has worked for clients including Bruel & Kjaer, Fiat, Ferrari, Maserati, Wire, Mozilla, Qoros, Telefònica, Bosch, Vodafone, Sprint, Siemens Audi and Samsung. Aaron lives with his family in Berlin, Germany.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Why Sound Design Is Critical to Successful Products ix

The Subjective Nature of Sound xi

Learning How to Listen xii

How This Book Is Organized xiii

Vocabulary xv

How to Contact Us xxxv

Acknowledgments xxxvi

Part I Principles and Patterns of Sound Design

Chapter 1 Opportunities in Sound Design 1

Sound Design and Taste Modulation 1

Wireless Power Through Sound Waves 2

Additive Sound Design 3

Subtractive Sound Design 3

Sonification 4

Sound Design and Calm Technology 8

Soundscapes 9

Generative Audio 10

Localized Sound 11

Sound as Therapy 12

Conclusion 13

Chapter 2 Subtractive Sound Design for Products 15

What Makes a Sound Annoying? 17

Frequency and Sound 18

Measurements of Loudness 20

General Principles for Quiet Products 21

Conclusion 40

Chapter 3 Adding Sound to Interactions 41

A Brief History of Sound Design 41

Types of Notifications 43

When to Add Audio Notifications 45

Guidelines for Adding Sounds to Interactions 47

Conclusion 63

Chapter 4 Removing Sound from Interactions 65

Unwanted Sounds 65

Guidelines for Removing Sound from Interactions 75

Conclusion 78

Chapter 5 Sound and Brand 79

Types of Trademarks 82

General Advice for Sound Trademarks 85

Conclusion 90

Chapter 6 Designing Voice Interfaces 91

Vocal Persona 91

Conclusion 94

Part II The Sound Design Process

Chapter 7 Interviewing 97

Interviewing Stakeholders 97

Determining the Scope of Work 98

Interview Questions 100

Conclusion 103

Chapter 8 Design 105

Elements of Sound 105

Design to Include the Widest Spectrum of Humanity 114

Creating a Design Document 124

Interaction Checklist 132

Conclusion 134

Chapter 9 Prototyping 135

Stock Sounds and Sound Libraries 136

Prototype Delivery Formats 139

Conclusion 146

Chapter 10 Hardware Testing 147

How Speakers Work 147

Quality Speakers 148

Low-Quality Speakers 149

Sound Channels and Playback Types 150

Testing the Target Hardware 153

Testing for Distortion 153

Use the Missing Fundamental 161

Final Tuning 161

Conclusion 168

Chapter 11 User Testing 169

Researching the Domain 170

Testing for Inclusivity 170

Contextual User Testing 172

Segmentation and Applied Ethnography 179

Formats for User Testing 180

Research Your Personas 184

Presenting Your Findings to Stakeholders 186

Conclusion 187

Appendix A Recommended Reading 189

Index 191

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