Conversation is how we exchange meaning and information, transact, fill time, and share a piece of ourselves. A conversation, though, is traditionally an event that happens between two or more people and in a particular place. We have important, sensitive, serious, or silly conversations in different places, with different emotions, tones, and nuances. When we think of communication as happening between a person and an entity or device, the ways we communicate change and digital products are challenging that every day.
“We need to talk…” and do so much more. Today’s voice application products provide users with updates and messages, quick facts and trivia, reminders and assistance, simple transactions, and environmental atmosphere like white noise and sleep aids.
In building these tools, UX designers have to understand the users’ goals. When it’s transactional, what does the user hope to achieve and what has to happen for them to realize it? When it’s informational, what does the user want to know and what’s the order and structure for understanding it? And, what if they want to know more? When it’s entertainment, what delights the user and what will keep them coming back time and again for new and equally delightful experiences? When it’s educational, what does the user need to learn and how should the tool help them to learn and understand? And how will they assess their success?
In this seminar, when Phillip Hunter talks about talking with digital products, he’s talking about the software, the hardware, and where they intersect and how UX can create a connection for the people who use them.
The process of user adoption for new voice application technology
- There are different paths for getting to the end results. Identify the right questions so you can come to productive answers.
- Determine the purpose of the application to fulfill the promise to the user.
- Look for stickiness so that a new product with new technology, can go beyond “entertaining users” to become something users will “love.”
The challenges of voice application technology and interactions
- Examine the UX role in anticipating user hesitancy or discomfort with new technology and help them overcome it.
- Understand that conversation is based on nuance. There are many different ways to say something and many different meanings can be ascribed to one statement, so the context in delivery is critical.
- Anticipate the translation layer between what is presented and what is understood.
The guiding principles to bridge the communication gap from person to person to person to entity
- Find ways to make it matter to users. Whether the application is rattling off a weather report or ordering dinner, the content has to have value today and continue to have value and impact in the future.
- Seek out the space for connection so that the user can become emotionally engaged and involved in the conversation.
- Make sure to address WIIFM — What’s In It For Me — and the “ME” is the user. Success is when the application gives value, improves users’ lives, and brings them joy.
The job — and the challenge — of voice application product development is to choreograph a dance that we are not leading. What we are building has to “think” and “feel” like a human for this most human of activities: communication. To fill in the unspoken gaps that are part of how we communicate means going beyond the iterative steps to anticipate, interpret, and respond with grace.