There is something fascinating about the voice user interface. Remember the first time we all used Siri in the iPhone 4s? It felt like magic back in the day. But today, voice assistants have become a popular thing. According to Stanford researchers Clifford Nass and Scott Brave, to some extent, people relate to voice assistants the same way as other people. This is because speech is so fundamental to communication in human beings. So even while communicating with machines, we tend to get certain expectations. This gives voice interfaces a personal touch.
According to Statista, by 2024, the number of digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units. This is significant proof of people’s fondness for VUI. In this article, we will discuss what is VUI and how can you develop an effortless VUI for your product. So without much further ado, let’s jump into the depths.
What is a Voice User Interface?
Voice User Interface or VUI is an interface to any kind of application that uses voice. This when integrated with artificial intelligence (AI), helps in making any spoken human interaction with computers possible.
Guide to voice user interface design
There are 5 steps that need to be followed in order to build a successful VUI design.
1. User Persona and define all the scenarios
Getting to know your users is always a great advantage. In this case, you will be able to understand how your users will use your voice application. It will help you enhance their experience. Try to focus on points like what purpose will your app serve for the people using it? Also, why is the voice communication feature needed in the app? Once you are clear with your user personas, design your VUI based on your research. Now that you will be building a voice-based app, it needs a personality. Decide on how you want your app to behave and sound.
Another important thing is to define all the scenarios and cases. You have to be clear with certain scenarios and use cases. For example why a person will be using your app and not another app? What is something different that you are providing your users?
2. Know the conversational design
Now that you are ready with the research part, next comes writing down conversational commands. This step can be a bit tricky because writing for speaking purposes will be way different than writing for reading. Hence, you have to be well aware of how people talk and give your VUI design a similar feel. In order for people to relate more to your app, you have to give it a real touch.
3. Development process
There are two ways through which you can implement the development process. You can either start your app development using sample dialogs, or with flow diagrams. Now it’s important to know that both these styles have their own advantages and methodologies. It is completely up to the voice UI designer to choose the best one according to them.
Here are how both styles work
- Flow Diagrams: These are diagrams containing all the specifics and possibilities, for instance, error messages, backend needs, etc. you can begin with the flow diagrams by creating a diagram of any crucial feature or functionality of your app.
- Sample dialogs: A snap of a single feature of the app is Sample dialogs. In other words, you can say that these are like storyboards for speech. If you have to know that you are going in the right direction, just simply read out your sample dialogs with your team members. If the conversation sounds natural then you’re on the right track.
4. Specifications for VUI
Next in line are the voice user interface specifications. This involves thoroughly detailing the specific dialogues, commands, messages, errors, and slots, etc in the VUI. So once you are done with the flow diagrams and sample dialogs, write down your app dialogs in such a way that they match the user conversations and requirements. This way your app will feel more personalized to them.
5. Testing Stage
The final stage of the VUI design is to check how it has turned out to be in the end. By prototyping and testing your voice design, you will be able to rectify any errors in time and even before the launch. Testing is a crucial part of any development strategy as it helps in identifying any errors or bugs that might affect the user experience.
Your VUI design is a success if you are able to provide the solutions to your users elegantly and without overwhelming them. Human communication is context-based. But in voice communication, you have to guide your users in a way so that they can express what they want easily and in a way that the computer can understand. Some of the ways this can be achieved are simply, providing information to the users about what they can do, let them know what functionality they are using, keeping the dialogs brief, and providing visual presentations so they know if the app is listening.