When designing customer experiences for any form factor, it’s important to create a personal experience for users. However, the way we accomplish this in voice-first UIs is different from the way we achieve this for screen interactions. For example, on the web or mobile, you might have a single UI that dynamically surfaces personal content such as music preferences. In voice interactions, in addition to personal content, the interaction itself must be personalized. This is because a singular interaction for all users, even with dynamic content, will feel robotic and sterile rather than authentic and approachable. Voice-first interactions should offer richer design. They should be predictable yet varied and delightful.
In our first installment of our series on How Building for Voice Differs from Building for the Screen, we covered adaptability and how you can build your voice-first interaction in a way that enables users to speak to Alexa in their own words. Today we’ll dive into another key voice design principle, which is to individualize the customer experience through personalization.
Building Personalized Voice-First Interactions
The simplest implementation of personalized voice interactions is to greet your user with a random welcome. Instead of saying, “Hello,” every time, you can say, “Howdy,” “Welcome back,” “Happy Friday,” “How goes it?” and so on, depending on the tone you want to set. More sophisticated voice-first experiences will have a memory. At first, users need help understanding the scope of the experience that you offer and what they can do. So, the first experience might be more verbose. Over time, users will want to get right into the action; they won’t want to hear the long introduction every time they visit, and your welcome message should evolve to match expectations.
An experience with memory would enable users to pick things up right where they left off. It would also get to know the user better over time. It might greet users with “Welcome back, Paul,” “Wow, you've been here to work out eight days in a row. Crushing it! Would you like your normal one-minute workout, or are you up for trying 90-second yoga?” or “Welcome back. Last time you were here, you were on question 12 of your SAT prep. Would you like to continue or start over?” Each of these is personable and respectful of what the user has done in the past.
Think about how our relationships with each other evolve over time, and how our conversations also advance to match. If you’ve talked to someone many times over and he or she returns to asking rudimentary questions you’ve already covered in previous interactions, you’d likely feel unheard and, as a result, become unengaged. Likewise, if your conversations with an acquaintance consists of the same questions or flow every single time, your enjoyment will become more automatic over time. While we prefer consistent graphical UIs, we have low tolerance for repeat voice interactions. Therefore, it is appropriate to remain predictable and concise yet also surprising and delightful when designing voice-first UIs.
Build for Voice, the UI of the Future
Explore the Amazon Alexa Voice Design Guide to learn more about the fundamental design principles to build rich and compelling voice experiences. If you’re a graphical UI designer or developer, download the guide 4 Essential Design Patterns for Building Engaging Voice-First User Interface. Or watch our on-demand webinar and recorded Twitch stream on how building for voice differs from building for the screen.