As we approach the end of the century and enter into a digital era there is a need to concentrate on new methods of communication. The expansion of personal computers into the industrial sector and more recently into the home, has brought the ability to transmit various forms of data to the average user. This new ability is accompanied with a responsibility to communicate effectively and clearly. This study focuses on the ability of user interfaces to effectively communicate combinations of visual and auditory cues to produce a more comprehensive user experience. This work proposed that the addition of auditory cues to a graphical user interface allows the user to receive valuable feedback through multiple sensory channels. By combining the types of perceived stimuli, developers of user interfaces can effectively communicate with the user. Modification of Kodak's Picture Easy v.2.0 software allowed for the study of varying amounts of auditory stimuli incorporated into a graphical user interface. The hypothesis states that "by adding an appropriate level of non-verbal auditory cues, users will experience enhanced performance and understanding of a user interface." The augmentation of an existing application permitted the study of three prototypes varying in the level of auditory and visual stimuli. Users evaluated three combinations of the test application to determine the preferred level of nonverbal auditory feedback. The findings from this study may then be applied to the development of graphical user interfaces that permit the use of auditory cues. Although this research disproved the hypothesis and stated that participants preferred visual cues over auditory cues, I believe that they can be successfully combined to produce a more effective and pleasing interface. The reasons for failure of the hypothesis may lie embedded within incorrect combinations of the five characteristics of auditory queues. These queues are Type, Nature, Duration, Amplitude, and Placement. This study revealed that participants preferred tool tips when identifying features and functionality, it is my belief that auditory cues can and will play a major part in future interaction styles, not only for software development, but for all user interface interactions.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
User interfaces (Computer systems); Graphical user interfaces (Computer systems)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Print Media (CIAS)
Hahn, Christopher, "An Investigation of non-verbal auditory cues within graphical user interfaces" (1999). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus