The Sonic Enhancement of Graphical Buttons

Stephen A. Brewster, Peter C. Wright, Alan J. Dix and Alistair D. N. Edwards

Full reference:
S. A. Brewster, P. C. Wright, A. J. Dix and A. D. N. Edwards (1995).
The Sonic Enhancement of Graphical Buttons.
Human-Computer Interaction - Interact'95, Eds. K. Nordby, P. Helmerson, D. J. Gilmore and S. A. Arnesen. Lillehammer, Norway: Chapman & Hall, pp. 43-48.
You can download this paper as:
Microsoft Word 5.1 (24K) || compressed postscript (198K) || Adobe PDF

Keywords: Auditory interfaces, multi-modal interfaces, earcons, sonification, sonically-enhanced widgets, buttons


Graphical buttons are common to almost all interfaces but they are not without problems. One common difficulty is slipping off a button by mistake and not noticing. Sonically-enhanced buttons were designed to overcome this problem and were experimentally evaluated. Timing, error rates and workload measures were used. Error recovery was significantly faster and required fewer keystrokes with the sonically-enhanced buttons than with standard ones. The workload analyses showed participants significantly preferred the sonically-enhanced buttons to standard ones. This research indicates that by simple addition of sound one of the major problems with graphical buttons can be overcome.

See also:
A. Dix and S. A. Brewster (1994). Causing Trouble with Buttons. Ancilliary Proceedings of HCI'94, Glasgow, Scotland. Ed. D. England.