Voice design also known as conversation design, voice user interface design or voice user experience (VUX) is a relatively new field.  It is defined as the planning and mapping all the interactions that might occur between a voice assistant and an end user.

The  goal of voice design is to create a conversational flow that makes interactions with voice assistants feel natural. Users report that the most significant benefit of voice technology is that it is hands-free and saves time. 

The major benefits include:

Speed

According to a study, speaking is at least four times more efficient than typing on a touch screen device. This makes voice design a great input method for information heavy tasks, such as filling complex forms and searching from a large inventory of items.

Intuitiveness

 Despite the usage of  different email clients, finding certain rarely used features such as vacation responder or signature might  be difficult on a new system. The users are aware of the features but are unable to locate them   unless they browse through  different menus and options.

By using voice design, the user can just say something like “change my signature” and they’ll find the setting they are looking for. 

Many cars already benefit from this kind of voice feature and over a third of US driver’s use these features monthly.

Flexibility

Voice user interfaces can comprehend different  ways of expressing the same idea.  Consider the vacation responder example. The user might refer to the feature as  either Out of Office -message or a Vacation responder. While looking for  “Vacation responder” from the menus, they might miss the “Out of Office -responder” item.The designer has to decide the name for the feature and stick with it. There could be a desynchronization of terms, with some users preferring one term over the other. 

This is not the case with voice UIs.

A voice user interface can support different synonyms and ways of expressing the same thing. No matter how the user expresses their wishes , the user interface will react accordingly.

Multi-tasking

Voice UIs enable the user to focus their attention on other  tasks. This is especially useful when driving a car or at a forklift, as it enhances  safety and productivity.

It can also help users multitask inside an application. For example in gaming, players can change a camera or switch weapons without navigating deep menus.

Accessibility

While accessibility is essential for those suffering from various impairments, it is beneficial for all of us. People who can depend on voice features include people with disabilities that make the use of keyboard and mouse impossible, people with chronic conditions such as repetitive stress injuries,, and people with cognitive disabilities.

Why is voice design important?

Voice assistants — such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and Apple’s Siri — are a significant part of our everyday digital lives, and we expect them to keep increasing in prominence. 

Many consumers have already reported using a smart speaker at least once a day. People have embraced the medium of voice and many multiNational companies are taking heed. 

As both consumers and brands adopt voice technology, VUI design capabilities and expertise will become crucial for companies to remain competitive and create engaging virtual experiences for customers. The hardware and software that make human-computer conversations easy and natural is now available, but for voice to achieve its full potential, the conversational flow has to be designed properly.

Principles of voice design

Some of the  principles that voice designers should follow include:

  • The VUI should be useful — it should be created with the intent of fulfilling a need.
  • Designers should be able to empathize with users. They should understand what the user wants, how they might react and how certain responses from the voice assistant might affect them.
  • The system should be easy to use. Designers should focus on natural language and create a system that allows users to speak in their own words — as if talking to another human.
  • The VUI should provide credible information that users can trust.
  • Designers should create a voice service that always keeps all options available, with no hierarchy assigned to the responses.
  • Designers should create a VUI that makes the voice assistant relatable and talks with users, rather than at them.

To produce effective VUIs, voice designers need to enhance their  user experience (UX) design. They should focus on:

  • User research
  • Prototyping
  • User flow and user journey map design
  • Usability testing
  • Iterative design

Monetizing voice design

As voice design continues to grow exponentially, companies have begun to use it to enhance customer experiences and increase their profitability. Companies are experimenting with conversational ads and voice search abilities, turning what used to be one-way marketing into a two-way conversation.

Chatbots are being used to serve customers’  valuable information — such as product recommendations, store information and upsells — based on the customer’s profile, personal preferences,and purchase history. This will allow companies to be involved in the customer’s decisions both before and after they have made the purchase  

Companies may also start paying to have their ads played by voice assistants. Google first tried this type of partnership when it started playing an audio ad for the new Beauty and the Beast live action film anytime a user asked their Google Assistant about their daily schedule. However, Google denies it was an ad and has shown no  other attempts at integrating advertisements into their voice service.

Applications of voice design

  1. One classic example is the integration of Microsoft Cortana into Outlook for iOS. This feature allows Outlook users with Apple devices to use Cortana through the Outlook mobile application to schedule notifications, read and send emails, and label, archive or delete emails once they have been read.
  1. Banking, where users can access account statements, pay their mortgage and loans and transfer between accounts using smart speakers.
  1. Healthcare, where voice assistants can be used to eliminate unnecessary paperwork, allowing emergency responders more time to focus on the needs of the patient.
  1. The hospitality industry has also started providing Google Assistants to assist guests with translations.
  2. Travel companies have also started providing voice-first services and restaurants have begun incorporating voice ordering capabilities.

To learn even more about Voice Design or to sign up for our next course, head to our voice design course page –https://myuxacademy.com/voice-design/

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