Designing the user interface: Text, colour, images, moving images and sound
Designing the user interface: Text, colour, images, moving images and sound

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Designing the user interface: Text, colour, images, moving images and sound

6.4 Using music to good effect

Music in UIs is relatively undeveloped, except in games and specialist packages designed for composers and musicians.

Some operating systems have a signature tune that is played automatically when they are loaded. This informs the user that the operating system has loaded correctly and creates a sense of identity, but can be annoying for the user if they have to listen to it repeatedly. A development on this use might be to signpost different parts of the program using musical clips.

The use of music can be evocative. In most films, the atmosphere is created and the viewer drawn in by music. For example, romantic music by Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov may accompany a melancholy section in a film. Music could be used in this way in a computer-based presentation, possibly at the climax of a talk. However you would need to take care, otherwise it could seem manipulative. I have a war games package that plays martial music at the beginning with the clear intention of putting users in the mood to play. However, after the tenth time of hearing it, I was pleased that an off button had been provided.

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