Based on an old wireframe and general idea floating in my head, I was able to create soma toma within 12 days thanks to ChatGPT-4. Try it out while you read about it!
Iterating as Designer & Developer
Even with the first royalty-free sounds I could find, I knew instantly the core idea was solid. It felt like I was transported to an entirely different environment; one where all my productivity dreams would come true!
Part of being a designer is obsessing over details. I wanted all sounds to fade in and out when being turned on or off. After tons of back and forth with ChatGPT-4 attempting to squash bugs, I realized this was beyond mine or its capabilities. I had to move forward without audio fading.
Adding Personality to Soma Toma
Since the core functionality was there and audio fade had been nixed, now it was time to hunt for sound effects and flesh out the visual design. I spent a decent bit of time poking around the internet for royalty-free sounds, but Pixabay seemed to have the best selection.
Their selection led me to reconsider my higher-level sound categories. Rain was really a kind of ambiance, and Café was really a setting or environment. Designating higher level categories would allow for variation and additional interesting combinations, like being able to hear birds in a library.
Unfortunately, I started having trouble with the video element. I wasn't able to align its background color with the css-based background color of the page, and there were issues syncing it with the audio. I wasn't happy with the file size either, since it went against the simple ethos of the app. Out of frustration, I shifted my efforts back to hunting for more sound effects.
This time while hunting for sound effects, I noticed a lot of the highest quality sounds were from the user 'Pixabay' (which must be Pixabay's internal sound design team). They were more interesting than what I was able to search for manually on my own, so I started digging through their whole collection.
Some of the sound effects were a little too interesting.
I desperately want to know who Daniel G is. Why his name is necessary in this sound file?!
Around the time I discovered "beer foam" or "conductor announcement on japanese train", I realized I had the opportunity to add significant personality and quirkiness thanks to the audio. To top it off, I had the perfect looping Lottie animation I could use in place of that rippling sphere video, so I altered the visual design to match.
The result is a minimal design with subtle bells and whistles, meant to be out-of-the-way but fun when you interact with it. In keeping with the simple ethos, I decided all music should come from YouTube. Their API is perfect for this, and no login is required.
I haven't really marketed it, but I did receive a decent reaction through a LinkedIn post. Let me know what your favorite sound sandwich is! Here's the link again if you skipped it earlier (shame).