Tutorial details:
Written by: Steve Grosvenor
Difficulty Level: Intermediate.

Excerpted from The Flash Anthology: Cool Effects & Practical ActionScript written by Steve Grosvenor and published by SitePoint. Learn to create and customize dozens of effects, work with external data, produce Flash charts & graphs, create Flash Forms, use CSS in Flash and more. Click here for 3 free sample chapters. Reproduced with permission.

Sadly, sound within Flash projects is often included as an afterthought?if it's included at all. Hurried, last-minute sound additions typically amount to no more than a clich?d loop that serves little purpose. If you ever find yourself in the position of importing a sound clip into a project without a clear idea of why you're doing it, stop and repeat the Flash designers' mantra: bad use of sound can destroy the entire user experience.

In this age of digital media, sound can and should be a part of the online environment. A little sound can go a long way toward enhancing and solidifying the user experience. Even a simple "click" sound can provide valuable auditory feedback, provided it's used in the right manner. But beware overloading your projects with sound "just for the sake of it." The use of sound, then, is a question of balance.

Note that you can download this chapter in pdf format if you'd prefer to read this content offline.

When Should You Use Sound in Your Projects?

This is one of those golden questions, and the answer depends on the type of project you're developing . Some productions don't require any sound when viewed in isolation; yet, when incorporated into a larger project, they call for some degree of aural enhancement. If a project is heavily related to sound, then it should definitely involve an appropriate variety of audio clips.

Always consider your work from the perspective of users: will the addition of sound increase their enjoyment of the project? Including short or long musical loops, sound bytes, or a narrative can greatly increase the appeal of an interface, but may also detract from other content and become extremely annoying after just a short while. Consider the following examples of possible Flash projects and think about sound might benefit them. Your choice could include sound effects, musical loops, narratives, or, of course, nothing at all.

  • Looping animation
  • Single level menu system
  • Multilevel menu system
  • Multi-paged Flash site
  • Flash form
  • Streaming video content

Quickly run through these examples in your head. It's not difficult to see what will and won't work for different projects. Over time, you'll become increasingly adept at making decisions about when and how to add sound to your projects.