Speech Recognition is one of the most important new features and technologies that needs to be considered when focusing on user-centered design. Voice/speech recognition is now mainstream and ranges from frustrating experiences (tried navigating a credit card “customer service” phone tree lately?) to incredibly helpful (have you tried the Kinect’s voice recognition yet?)
Well-designed user experiences are extremely important when it comes to voice recognition, as there is a much higher chance for users attempting to say phrases or words that aren’t recognized or cause errors. This can create a bad user experience and reflect negatively upon your brand. It can also place an additional burden upon live customer support if they are receiving lots of frustrated communications.
Speech applications can also present a very linear experience where users cannot easily backtrack or change their mind after making a choice. Ensuring that dialogue, prompts, and grammar are well-constructed and developed will help make this experience as positive as possible for the user.
Here are the first five steps to help ensure a high quality experience.
1. Determine Goals and Requirements for the System
Engaging in a careful discovery process on what it will take to make your application truly successful. The process can help you determine the questions that you need to ask and what needs to be included in the application, in order to decide upon target user groups, functionalities and interactions. (One method is to create personas.)
2. Choose between Natural Language and Directed Dialog
What you think of first may not be what your neighbor would think of first. With only a limited number of potential actions for your users to take, you want to make sure that their intentions are recognized correctly. While a natural language application creates a more human-like interface experience, it can be a much more complex to design and can carry a higher risk of errors. If the application has a limited scope focusing on a clear set of actions, directed dialogue is often a better choice.
3. Choose the Application Persona
During the discovery process, make sure to define any brand or personality requirements for the application. Remember that whatever is selected as the voice of your application (and by extension your brand) reflects on you. So be sure that you are prioritizing usability over novelty. It is also important to consider where and how an application will be used, for example navigating a car GPS system versus ordering takeout, to direct the language and flexibility of the application. Also keep language and cultural differences in mind as well. One size doesn’t fit all.
4. Map the Voice User Interface (VUI) Structure
Have a plan! After doing your initial rounds of discovery and approach planning, it is time to build some skeleton wireframes. This information can be conveyed well using graphical wireframes and flow charts. This is especially important when determining the fastest way to help the user accomplish their goal.
5. Finalize the VUI Design
According to UX Magazine, by this point in the process you should have:
- Clear sets of requirements, goals, and use cases/user stories.
- A decision on whether or not the application will support natural language.
- Guidelines about the application’s branding and personality requirements.
- Skeletal flow charts indicating the basic paths through the application.
The framework for the application is completed now by filling in and refining details. This is the time to circulate your design to any necessary stakeholders and incorporate their feedback. Don’t proceed from this stage until you have identified what each user can do at each specific step in the application.
Stay tuned next week for the final five steps to ensure a high quality experience with your speech recognition user interface design. IdentityMine helps businesses rethink the way that they communicate with their customers across multiple digital touch points. Interested in learning more about our take on voice interaction? Want to see how we’ve incorporated it with our Windows Phone, Xbox and Kinect applications? We’d love to tell you about it so contact us!