Beeps, Dings, and Usability

We just moved into a new home, and were so pleasantly surprised to find our microwave made a pleasant, musical “ding” sound instead of an annoying, tinny “beep”. Everyone who came into the house remarked on the pleasant sound the microwave made and how lovely it was. Until last Saturday morning, when I woke up to discover that the lovely-sounding microwave no longer heated the food. Sigh. Time for a new microwave.

The sweet-sounding microwave has been replaced with a very nice-looking silvery GE model with 6 one-touch buttons and a popcorn button. I chose one with fewer buttons for the usability and I really like that part of it. What really bothered me, though, is they didn’t have any of the models at the store plugged in, so you could look at them, but you couldn’t HEAR them. So now we’re stuck once more with a microwave that dings. It’s not the most annoying sound in the world, but it is annoying.

My point is this: every aspect of your product affects the user experience. The sound your microwave makes could be just as important as the design of the buttons. Why would users want an annoying BEEP sound to notify them when their food is done? Why not a pleasant, sing-songy ding?

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