With interfaces, a whole new avenue is opening up for designers to better, intuitive, human-centered experiences. While the principles of user-centered remain same across all mediums, there are few differences when translating from screen-based interfaces to voice. Below listed are few things I learned over the last two years designing for Voice.

Define your product AND communicate that to user
Defining the end-product is the first step in any UX design process. Voice is no exception. You start by defining what your system will and won’t do.

In visual interfaces, the GUI provides the affordance for supported tasks. In VUIs (Voice User Interfaces), the only way for user to discover supported tasks is through trial and error- trying different commands and their variations. So, in voice, it becomes very important to communicate to the user at the onset what can be done, and what cannot. For example: the assistant may be able to complete the primary tasks of a service (book a cab) , but not handle secondary tasks of the same (previous ride details).

Replace user journey with user flow diagram
A customer journey map is a visualization of the process that a person goes through to accomplish a goal.User flow diagrams visualizes the complete path in a product. They focus on a task to be accomplished by the user all alternative paths for accomplishing a goal, as well as the eventual next step.

In VUIs, you have no control over user utterances. There is no harm in going exhaustive and listing out all possible commands at any step of the process. For example: after user has asked a VA to read out a message, there can be a follow-up to forward it or read the ‘last’ one.

It is easy to forget some of the less common edge cases. But when you take the time to map everything out in a user flow diagram, you are forced to be thorough and think through every possibility.

Defining the personality
Voice interfaces ushers in with itself the inherent expectations of being ‘human’. To keep up this simulacrum, it is important that the personality of the agent is defined to make it more relatable, and relevant to the users. Defining the personality will be done based on brand identity of the company/service as well as the VUI’s defined role. The personality will define the tone, word choice (and the voice) of the agent.

You cannot really choose to ignore this step; remember that no personality is also a personality. If you don’t assign a personality to your product, the user will.

UX writing, a.k.a Dialogue design 
Unlike in GUIs, where an UX designer could get away with placeholder Lorem Ipsum to be later dealt with by UX/content writers, in VUIs that is not an option.

Dialogues are UI elements in VUIs. Dialogues need to written so as to sound natural, be clear, concise and align with the personality you have defined. So, make sure you design real dialogues instead of using fill-ins. design to speak .

Testing 
In case of GUIs, if development goes well, what you see (design) is what you get as the final product. That isn’t the case for VUIs. The deliverables you give will be written, but conversation are heard and not read. So, make sure that the final product actually aligns with the way you envisioned it. Based on what you hear, some tweaking may be required.



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