Manual Voice User Interface Design

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A voice user interface is simply a new and exciting way to transmit information.

olagynulehyb.gq | The Voice

The design process remains largely the same, with a few nuances. This blog post will explore some of the major nuances specific to designing voice user interfaces. Most voice user interfaces are applications that augment the capabilities of a preexisting voice assistant. Large tech companies, such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, have built advanced voice assistants e.


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Alexa, Siri that interpret speech using natural language processing technology. The companies who build the voice assistants enable third parties to build custom functionality for their voice assistants.

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For example, a travel booking company could create an app for the Alexa that lets users book a hotel room. The applications serve as an alternative way for users to interact with their favorite products and services. Because voice assistants can only present information sequentially, the applications do not lend well to discovery tasks, such as leisurely browsing a shopping website "help me shop for a pair of shoes".

Designing for Voice User Interface

Amazon presents a useful framework for conceptualizing the transfer of information between a human and a voice assistant. According to Amazon, there are four elements to voice design:. The voice assistant must first interpret the words the user speaks utterance and match those words to a task that the assistant has been programmed to handle intent. To do so, the voice assistant replies in a manner designed to keep the conversation moving forward prompt.

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For example, the list below shows the elements of a voice user interface for booking a room at a fictitious hotel:. Natural language processing NLP technologies have become very good at determining the words a user speaks, but not what the user means to say. Voice designers are responsible for writing a list of all the possible utterances a user might speak. The comprehensive list of utterances is built using preliminary user research and refined over time using data generated by the voice assistant. This elaborate process affords a voice assistant the illusion of intelligence, however, the assistant is really just playing back pre-recorded dialogs written by the design team.

According to the Google conversation design guidelines, a voice design project should produce at least two deliverables: a series of sample dialogs and a diagram of the conversation flow. Sample dialogues often take the form of a script or storyboard. Flow charts are useful for documenting the conversation flow. A successful voice design process will closely mirror any other user experience design process. For example, the designer should focus on a single persona and use case at a time. In short, good design is good design, and a good designer should not have to change their process much to adapt to voice.


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Like any other kind of design, it is important to test voice user interfaces early and often. Voice commands are even more daunting to process — even between people, let alone computers. The way we frame our thoughts, the way we culturally communicate, the way we use slang and infer meaning… all of these nuances influence the interpretation and comprehensibility of our words. So, how are designers and engineers tackling this challenge? How can we cultivate trust between user and AI?

This is where VUIs come into play. Voice User Interfaces VUI are the primary or supplementary visual, auditory, and tactile interfaces that enable voice interaction between people and devices. Keep in mind, a VUI does not need to have a visual interface — it can be completely auditory or tactile ex. The way we interact with our world is highly shaped by our technological, environmental, and sociological constraints.

Voice user interface design: a guide for beginners

Before we dive into our interactive design, we must first identify the environmental context that frames the voice interaction. The device type influences the modes and inputs that underly the spectrum and scope of the voice interaction. Stationary Connected Devices.

What are the primary, secondary, and tertiary use cases for the voice interaction? Does the device have one primary use case like a fitness tracker? Or does it have an eclectic mix of use cases like a smartphone? It is very important to create a use case matrix that will help you identify why users are interacting with the device.

What is their primary mode of interaction? What is secondary? What is a nice-to-have interaction mode and what is essential? You can create a use case matrix for each mode of interaction. When applied to voice interaction, the matrix will help you understand how your users currently use or want to use voice to interact with the product — including where they would use the voice assistant:.

Would they really use it? Do they understand the constraints? Do they truly understand their own propensity to use that feature? As a designer, you must understand your users better than they understand themselves.

Designing For The Future With Voice Prototypes

You must question the likelihood that they will use a particular mode of interaction given their access to the alternatives. In this case, it is safe to assume that voice interaction is one of many possible types of interaction. The user has access to multiple alternative interaction implements: a remote, a paired smartphone, a gaming controller, or a connected IoT device. Voice, therefore, does not necessarily become the default mode of interaction.

It is one of many. So the question becomes: what is the likelihood that a user will rely on voice interaction as the primary means of interaction? If not primary, then would it be secondary? This will qualify your assumptions and UX hypotheses moving forward. Translating our words into actions is an extremely difficult technological challenge.

With unlimited time, connectivity, and training, a well-tuned computational engine could expediently ingest our speech and trigger the appropriate action. We want our voice interactions to be as immediate as the traditional alternatives: visual and touch — even though voice engines require complex processing and predictive modeling.


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Here are some sample flows that demonstrate what has to happen for our speech to be recognized:. As we see… there are numerous models that need to be continuously trained to work with our lexicon, accents, variable tones, and more. Every voice recognition platform has a unique set of technological constraints. It is imperative that you embrace these constraints when architecting a voice interaction UX.

Analyze the following categories:. The logical ordering may be skewed, so it is the responsibility of the VUI to extract the relevant information either by voice or visual supplements from the user.