Matthew Bennett

Matthew Bennett is Head of the Sound + Sensory Design Program at Microsoft, where he leads development of the next-generation sound design language for the company’s portfolio of software, services, devices and platforms. Since creating the program in 2014, he has been pioneering a new model for product sound design that grounds traditional elements of the discipline within a broader sensory design framework. He works with teams across the company to develop new sensory-driven interaction models and create design systems that support intuitive and inclusive experiences.

UX Salon Talk

Beyond Vision, A New Paradigm: Sound as Sensory Design

Visual elements dominate the modern UX. There is a lot to see, but much less to feel. As we design across multiple devices, we’re also learning to design across multiple senses. Because sound connects to powerful sensory and emotional centers in our brain, it can help us create more satisfying and soulful experiences—yet traditional design models overlook and undervalue the role of sound.

This session explores new ways of thinking about sound as an integrated design element that plays a key role in orchestrating a multisensory product experience. Developed in the Design R&D group at Microsoft, this model grounds traditional elements of sound design within a sensory design framework. The approach is intuitive and accessible and can inspire all designers to create more beautiful, functional and inclusive experiences.

UX Salon Workshop

Designing Beyond Vision: Principles and Practical Techniques

Intended for all designers, this session will go into more practical detail and explore key differences between traditional approaches to sound design and the ‘Sound as Sensory Design’ model. We’ll discuss how to think about sound as an element of your UX. We’ll do some comparative listening, and explore best practices for how to talk about sound, how to write a sound design brief and how to communicate with your sound designer.


Meet Matthew Bennett

You might never have thought about the sounds your computer emits when an email arrives, your battery runs low or a meeting reminder pops up on your screen. Matthew Bennett has. A lot.

Bennett personally composed, performed and digitally manipulated more than 900 versions of the Windows 10 calendar alert sound before choosing the perfect one.

As audio creative director for a large portfolio of Microsoft software and devices, Bennett has played a key role in the company’s sound design for 15 years. He has strong opinions and well-developed philosophies about sound, as well as a highly specialized vocabulary to discuss it.

“Our responsibility to our customers is, first of all, do no harm. Design sounds that don’t hurt or annoy,” he says. “Second, make it functional, and third, make it beautiful. Beauty and function go hand in hand. The more beautiful it is, the better it will flow into the experience we want people to have.”

Photo: Brian Smale