Adopting a holistic approach to successful Voice UX prototyping

Introduction

The world of gadgets is rapidly making the transition from ‘touch’ to‘voice.’ In the grand scheme of Internet of Things (IoT), voice userinterfaces are the go-to technology.

Hence, contemporary designers need to be proficient with creating potent Voice UX (user-experiences). It is not a very intricate designing process, but is also different from the standard UX designing done for a website or mobile app. The major difference is that voice interactions are not usually logical or governed by a pre-set flow, as in a website or an app. A conversation might take place anywhere, anytime, and with any variables. On the contrary, a website user has a pre-set navigation to follow. The other thing to keep in mind while designing a Voice UX is the flow of conversation. There is no ‘go back to the previous menu’ in a voice interaction. The underlying principle to creating a great User Centred Design is to keep in mind that the designing is for a conversation, not a written input.

Voice UX prototyping

The process of Voice UX prototyping can be simplified as under.

Creation of a persona

A voice persona is crucial in determining a voice app’s efficiency and its impact on the users. Thought must be given to factors like the native language, gender, ethnicity and accent of the app’s voice persona. These decisions must be based upon the target audience and their user personas. For example, an English-speaking African-accented voice persona will not resonate with Russian or Chinese audiences and vice-versa.

Writing sample conversation flows

After the voice persona is finalized, the next step must be the creation of probable conversation flows. While it may not be possible to write all probable flows due to the unpredictable nature of voice conversations, the most likely scenarios can be described. For example, while ordering a pizza, the conversation could be mapped as follows.

User: I want to order a pizza.
UI: Sure, Is this Peter?
User: Yes.
UI: Do you want to order your usual extra cheese large pizza?
User: Yes, that would be good.
UI: Do you want it to be delivered at home or would you pick it up?
User: I want it home delivered.
UI: Your address with us is, 123, Search Avenue. Is that where you
want it delivered?
User: Yes.
UI: That would be $12.50. Do you want to pay using your cards or
cash-on-delivery?
User: I will pay cash-on-delivery.
UI: Thank you! Your order has been placed and your pizza will reach
you in the next 30 minutes.

Creating the Voice Prototype

This leads us to the prototyping stage. There are some really helpful tools, but we must give due consideration to the fact that voice-based design is still a novel medium. Therefore, the number of quality voice prototyping tools is lesser compared to the tools available for website/app prototyping. Sayspring is the most widely used voice interface designing tool which suits both Alexa and Google Assistant.

Other tools that one can use are Thestoryline (interface mapping tool for Alexa skills), Botsociety (multi-platform tool for Messenger, Alexa, Google Home and others), and Dialogflow (for creating natural voice interactions).

Errors

Things like the voice app failing to comprehend what the user said or the user providing information that it is not able to process, are bound to happen. The key to resolving such situations is providing proactive and helpful prompts that guide the user to give the correct responses.

In conclusion

Once the prototype is ready, it must be tested extensively with people to validate its User Centred Design and find out how effective the Voice app and its speech-based interface are with the real people.

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