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Online help with sound

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Sunday July 4, 2010 )

An interesting and (in my opinion) useful feature I came across the other day was a form with an audio help feature.

As I scrolled through a form, it offered tool-tips type help which is a useful feature in itself, but also a play button that triggered a sound file with instructions associated with that particular form field. I’m not sure if it’s all that common, but it’s the first time I’ve seen (heard) it.

The sound file loaded quickly, the speaker was clear and concise – I imagine it would be very helpful for those with literacy problems or are just too darned lazy to read.

I could see this being applied for all sorts of help applications and given the constraints of text, particularly on forms, it could be used to provide more detailed assistance. This could help with conversions and translate to less email/phone questions – which may be a good or a bad thing depending on your selling strategy.

Implementing voice help isn’t hard. You probably already have the tools on your computer to record MP3’s and once the files are created, implement them using the following.

<object width="150" height="42"> <param name="src" value="http://linkto.mp3"> <param name="autoplay" value="false"> <param name="controller" value="true"> <embed src="http://linkto.mp3" autostart="false" loop="false" width="150" height="42" controller="true"></embed> </object>

Just replace “http://linkto.mp3” with the URL of your sound file. This is just a very simple example; there are a lot more elegant ways to embed sound files – search on Google using the terms: “embed MP3” for other ideas.


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