design for voice

Voice technology is becoming more prevalent (not to say better) with each new iteration. AI and cloud computing, plus the very fact that there’s a huge amount of recorded video, give us the tools to form products which will reliably understand human speech.

So now, we’d like to style for that reality.

And while tons of design practices and principles carry over, there are voice-specific things to observe out for.

Here are a couple of rules of thumb to think about when you’re designing for voice.


  1. Decide if you would like a Voice App

First off, find out if a voice application is sweet for the user. Sometimes, this may be obvious. For instance, if you check out the out of the box Alexa apps they were mainly focused on things like music, the weather, reminders, and little queries and questions.

Basically, making connections between people and therefore the simple information they wanted.

Now, contrast that with something like buying a car. That’s a way more considered decision, that folks will research and review to form sure they buy the proper one. albeit they might ask “what car should I buy and why” they would not be ready to retain that information. So therein instance, a voice application for, say, a second hand car lot, won’t make tons of sense.

So before you begin designing, confirm a voice application is the right modality.


  1. Understand Your User Expectations

How frustrating is it when you’re on the phone with an automatic system and that they don’t understand what you’re saying? 

That’s because (1) you’re on the phone with an automatic voice system, which nobody ever calls only for fun, and (2) our expectations around voice are incredibly high. Talking is so critical to human communication and as humans, we’re so good at it, we expect machines to be an equivalent way.

So one among the primary belongings you gotta do is understand what your user’s expectations are around speech. What do they need to try to do with voice technology, and what are they going to say to get there? An intersectionality approach is often valuable here, paying particular attention to the precise circumstances during which they’ll be using your voice application.


  1. Consider all the Permutation of Your Commands

You’ll likely be building on top of a voice system like Alexa, which should lookout of tons of word recognition and order for you. However, you’ll still have to design how for those words to trigger specific commands, which suggests you’ll have to think through all the varied ways your users are going to be framing those questions. 

For instance, let’s say you are a headphone shop and you would like an Alexa app to be ready to answer questions on where to put headphones. 

People might say: where am I able to buy headphones, cheap headphones near me, headphone price, what proportion are headphones, what proportion are earbuds, what proportion are airpods… you get the thought .

If you’re designing for voice, you would like to at a minimum remember the varied flavours your app can take.


  1. Set Parameters for the choices Available

A good thanks to control for the matter above is to line clear parameters around what users can and can’t do together with your voice application. If you are doing that, then you’ll avoid tons of user frustration (even if the functionality is limited) because it’ll make it much easier for users to find out quickly what they will use your voice app for.


  1. Create Other Feedback Systems 

Voice is hard for designers because the feedback is all audio. However, that’s easily missed by users who are busy, which is that the context voice is most frequently utilized. So if you’ll , attempt to design another feedback also. For instance, you would possibly have a red light pulse if the command wasn’t understood. Or alternatively, you’ll have the sunshine change counting on if the appliance is listening or processing information.

It’s also important to style audio cues also around when your command has been received and you’re getting the solution . Otherwise, users won’t know if they’ve done it right or not!


  1. Design in Conversations, Not in Flows

Any voice application is fundamentally a conversation between a robot and human. Basically, it’s a street. 

So that’s how you would like to style your voice application. Think through questions like: ‘When a user asks, X, what is going to be the voice app’s response be?’

This isn’t to mention that flows aren’t necessary — they’re often an honest thanks to represent the technical side of things. But from a UX perspective, switch your thinking to be conversation first instead of flow-first. 


Wrap Up

Voice is increasingly a serious interaction point for people. It’s getting to emerge because the favorite way humans engage with the web, extract information, and make requests and decisions. 

Fortunately, the 20+ years we’ve all spent getting specialized at designing for other modalities will be available handy — many of the equivalent principles apply. 

But there are some quirks, and designers have to remember them if they need to create functional voice apps.