20 June 2019 | MOF Team
Designing a voice user experience is not the same as designing for a traditional UI. If you want to create an outstanding customer experience, you need to master the practice with an intuitive, natural and effective voice user-interface.
We headed to the UX Crunch Meets Amazon – Designing For Alexa conference to hear from experts in the field on best practices for the design of VUIs and how to maximise usability.
Alright, we’re listening...
“Prepare to fail, and when you do, fail gracefully.” Ben Sauer, director of Conversational Design at Babylon Health.
The speakers at the event were keen to highlight just how complex designing for voice is.
As we’re very much still in the discovery phase of this technology, mistakes are the only way to learn. As the old mantra goes, move fast and break stuff.
Voice design supremo Ben Sauer, who has worked with huge organisations from NASA to the BBC, says there are three core elements to integrating ‘voice’ into anything:
In other words – if it doesn’t add value to your offering, don’t bother.
Alexa is now supported by over 30,000 different products, from light bulbs to fridges, televisions to speakers. But she’s not just confined to our homes – you can find her in portable devices like headphones, cars and Fitbits.
Despite this rapid development, many reports suggest that the technology is still frustrating for many.
Rob Farnell, Director of Voice and AI at the BBC, points out, “We’re not designing for our generation. Voice UI is for generations to come, and those of us interacting with it now are merely guinea pigs. When will we completely trust voice? It doesn’t really matter – children are already ensconced – so whether we like it or not simply doesn’t matter.”
So let’s look at the stats. According to research carried out by OC & C Strategy Consultants looking into US and UK markets:
So it’s clear that we need to sharpen up our voice skills.
Andrea Muttoni, Senior Solution Architect for Amazon Alexa, outlined some best practices for designing for voice:
Other challenges we face in voice search include personalisation – how to accurately deliver the most relevant product or topic to direct the user to next, and how to avoid coming across too sales-y.
As the BBC’s Rob Farnell pointed out: “Once you lose trust, it’s especially hard to get back – particularly in the voice environment.”
Despite scepticism, there is no question as to which way the industry is moving. The fact that global businesses are increasingly investing in the technology, and further results from OC&C’s 2019 study highlight this:
Listen up: VUI is not a stand-alone proposition. It will increasingly become integrated into multi-dimensional experiences and users should be able to seamlessly move from one experience to another.
As with any new technology or marketing channel, the quality of output will improve as brands and businesses learn from the data. Currently, some still think of it as a novelty, but those who see the potential and take it seriously will succeed if they focus on enhanced user experiences rather than gimmicky tactics.
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