Since the beginning of the internet, web designers have tried to implement audio and video to improve the user experience. The results have not always been well received. You may remember websites with annoying music playing in the background or welcome pages that featured video presentations which took forever to load.
As a result, nowadays, web designers prefer to use audio sparingly, or not at all. However, if used with a specific purpose in mind and appropriately, implementing audio can still be valuable to your users and enhance the overall quality of your website or web app.
How to use Audio in Web Design
Adding an audio file to a website or a web app requires careful planning and good insight into your audience.
True, today we seldom come across websites with music playing in the background, but a good piece of music can still be the right choice in several scenarios. Moreover, we daily interact with sounds on several websites or apps. If these sounds were not there, our user experience would be diminished.
For instance, think of familiar sounds such as the WhatsApp or Skype notification message. The camera’s shutter sound when you snap a picture with your phone. These sounds help us to better interact with the application and if we don’t hear them, we think something is wrong.
The following are some common scenarios of when an audio sound can enhance your user’s experience.
Create a Positive User Interaction
Did you ever experience the uncomfortable feeling of taking an action on a website and not being able to understand if it was successful or not? Web designers usually add visual effects to help users understand what is happening. A sound can reinforce even more the user interface (UI) interaction, reassuring your user that their action has been successful.
Enhance the Mood of the User
If you are featuring a product or a service presentation on your website or app, the music in the background can affect the emotions of your user. If you choose your audio carefully, you can strike a positive note with your audience and they will be more inclined to take positive action.
Using games to entertain their audience is becoming widespread among big websites. The webmaster will ask the users to perform specific tasks in exchange for a reward, such as special discounts, a collection of points, and so on. Once the user completes the task and receives the reward, a sound can convey a feeling of accomplishment.
It could be easily forgotten that some visitors might be visually impaired. It’s good to give attention to these users and make your content accessible to them. Audio is the best option in this regard. When you enable an audio reading of your text, you will perfectly serve the needs of your visually impaired users.
How to Decide When to Use Audio on Your Website or App
As discussed above, using audio on websites and web apps can surely enhance their quality, but it must be done in a way that is savvy. There are several factors you must consider before adding or choosing a sound.
Is the Audio Necessary?
Audio is not used to entertain the user. It must make an action obvious or send a clear message. Make sure you associate the sound with an action that requires the attention of your user. Avoid using sounds for general interactions while the user is navigating your website or app. For instance, you don’t need to have a sound every time they click on a link.
Is the Audio Annoying?
This has to do with the kind of sound you choose and how often it will be repeated during the navigation. Make sure, for instance, that the sound is short and pleasant to listen to. In any case, the sound shouldn’t be repeated too many times, especially if it is not strictly necessary.
Where Will the User Most Likely Use the Application?
Some web apps are mainly used in open, possibly noisy environments. Others are more related to office environments or quiet settings. Considering where the most common environment that the app will be used in will give you important insights into the type of audio to use. In a noisy environment, for instance, your sounds must be louder and more pitchy, while in an office setting, deep-toned sounds are more appropriate since they cause less distraction.
Who is Your User?
Your audience is a primary factor in determining the kind of sound you will add to your website or app. Are you addressing young people, children, businessmen, women, others? Make sure the sound you choose resonates with your audience. Even the topic of your website is a critical factor. Obviously, an app used for leisure time will have sounds that are very different than an app used for financial purposes.
Think About Performances
Adding sounds should never affect the performances of your website or web app. If your site or application is not fast enough because of the audio files, the user experience will suffer. Audio files can be very large, even larger than most images. A good practice is to avoid having audio files download alongside HTML and images. Performances will improve if the audio loads in the background after the page has loaded.
Even better is the option of using the Web Audio API whenever possible. Even though it is not yet supported by all browsers, the Web Audio API is supported on some of the main ones like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. Another advantage of the Web Audio API is that it allows you to create your custom audio from scratch.
How to Use Videos on Your Website or App
As for the importance of having videos on your content, there is not much to say. It is well understood that videos are a major factor to attract visitors and encourage user engagement.
However, adding a video to your website or app is not enough to attain good results. There are several technical factors that you must keep in mind to enhance the usefulness of your videos and not negatively affect performances.
Video Compatible with Multiple Formats
Users will access your website from different browsers and not all of them support the same video formats. Your web developers need to specify different formats when adding the video, otherwise, some of your users will be unable to play them.
Choose a Poster Image
Instead of featuring a black screen with a play button, it will be more effective to add a poster image to your video. The right poster image will encourage your user to click on the play button and watch the video. Therefore, the poster image should be eye-catching and clearly explain what the video is about.
Size the Video Correctly
This point deals with both your website performance and your users’ experience. Videos are large files and can slow down your website. Therefore, do not upload videos with a higher quality or larger frame than the platform can handle. This advice also applies to the length of the video. Do not use videos that are too long since they can excessively weigh down your website resulting in long load times and may even end up boring your users.
As for the user experience (UX), the video should never be larger than the container itself. If that happens, your user will not see the video in its entirety or will not be able to use the controls resulting in a poor user experience.
Customize the Video Player
Every browser displays videos in different ways. Moreover, device orientation is an additional issue on mobile devices. Your video must be setup in a way that it works flawlessly on any device or browser and create a pleasant user experience.
In this regard, even the controls must be readily accessible. At all times the user must have the ability to start, stop, rewind, or fast-forward the video to their liking.
Add Video Text Tracks
Always remember that not all your users can interact with your video in the same way. Some may have audio impairments; others may watch the video in noisy environments and others may not fully understand the language.
To support these users and enhance their experience on your website or app, it is a good practice to add a transcript of the video. In this way, your resource can be accessible and useful in any situation.
Using audio and video on your website or web app is a great way to engage your audience, provide them with a better user experience, and generate more conversions.
If used properly, audio and video can be an asset to your website or app. However, they must be used with knowledge and set properly. Otherwise, they may be a deterrent to your users.
QPSoftware has been developing websites and web apps for over a decade. We can help you with adding video or audio content to your website or app. Thus, creating perfect UI and UX for your users. Contact us today to know more about how you can implement audio and video on your web app or website.