How Sonos Does Sound: An Introduction to Our Sound Experience Guidelines

In creating Sonos products for the last 16 years, we’ve thought a lot about how sound is experienced in the home. In fact, the company was founded on the desire to create a better home-listening experience for our customers: we thought about the experiences we wanted to create first, and then designed the hardware and software to enable them. Our platform is now open, and our team has been hard at work creating tools, guidelines, and API documentation that will help our partners build great experiences to benefit our mutual customers.

Our designs at Sonos have been informed by making prototypes and products and seeing how people interact with them to enjoy music, radio, podcasts, and other types of content in the home. We’ve learned about how they want to choose content; how they want to play different songs in different rooms or the same song in multiple rooms; and how they want to adjust the output volume in one or more rooms. To help give you a head-start with your integration, we’ve gathered many of our findings into the Sonos Sound Experience Guidelines and made them available on our portal. The guidelines are non-technical and focus on user experience rather than APIs and technical know-how. They are intended for a wide audience of designers, product managers, business owners, and developers.

Over the years, we’ve also seen how people use different interfaces to interact with Sonos, such as voice, screen-UI, gestures, and physical controls. We’ve learned that the use of one interface type over another isn’t based purely on user preference but can change during the course of a day. The types of interface a user chooses might be based on convenience, the number of people listening (or watching), the type of content being played, and the activities of people in the house. People expect these different interfaces to work in concert, seamlessly and without technical hiccup. We call this seamless interaction continuity of control and we talk about it in our guidelines. We really want our partners to build on this continuity of control, and we believe that our own Sonos products are just the start.

Obviously, some pretty elaborate technology is needed to enable multi-room interaction and to ensure a seamless experience for our users. However, we believe it is essential to remember that people want to focus on their lives, their family, and their friends, and not be distracted by technology. It is therefore critical that technical complexity does not translate into difficult, time-consuming, or frustrating experiences. To this end, we’ve created a chapter in our guidelines that discusses some key principles of designing with simplicity in mind. We use these principles ourselves and encourage you to consider them for your integration.

People want to enjoy their lives, not be distracted by technology


We think you’ll find the Sound Experience Guidelines useful and informative, and we’re looking forward to seeing what you create. We’re hoping to see a few products and features that we’ve considered at Sonos, but more importantly, we’re excited about seeing partner implementations we’ve never imagined. Good luck with your integration, have fun with the Sonos platform, and let us know if you have any feedback.

Rob Lambourne
Distinguished Designer, Sonos Platform Team

Currently listening to: Big Red Machine
First concert: The Wedding Present, Derby, UK