We've been talking to a lot of customers, skill builders, and voice UI designers about the elements of a well-designed voice experience. All of you who are building voice experiences are pushing boundaries and helping shape the user experiences of the future. You may have come from a web or mobile development background, or maybe you're an author or a game designer. No matter what your background, we are discovering together which design best practices still work and what new best practices are forming.
We're excited to share the Amazon Alexa Voice Design Guide (alexa.design/guide), a resource built on the experiences of the Amazon Alexa team, the skill builder community, and established industry practices. It includes voice design concepts as well as practical guidelines for every stage of your project to help you deliver an enjoyable voice experience. Here’s a quick tour.
Pick Projects That Take Advantage of Voice
Start with the customer and focus on finding those moments where the use of voice makes your experience faster, easier, and more enjoyable. See more at alexa.design/fasteasyfun.
Follow a Customer-centric Design Process
A common pitfall in voice UI is to start coding before thinking through the design. This causes problems where the experience mirrors the API or gets too complicated. The design guide will walk you through how to sketch your experience with a simple dialog script and then flesh out the details using best practices. See more at alexa.design/process.
Understand the Core Alexa Concepts
Beyond designing voice experiences in general, the design guide explains fundamental Alexa concepts like “intents," utterances,” and “slots” so you can translate your design into an Alexa skill. See more at alexa.design/intent.
Apply Design Patterns to Help You Understand What People Are Saying
A great conversational voice experience allows for the many ways people might express their meaning. Where a web page might have a “share” button, a person might be able to say a variety of things like: “share that,” “send this to email,” “add Paul,” “grant Paul access please.” A natural language interface like this needs to be both flexible and simple. See more at alexa.design/whatuserssay.
Speak So That People Can Easily Understand and Respond
Your experience should respond, inform, and ask questions in a natural and conversational way. The design guide gives you design patterns that you can apply as you design for the ear. See more at alexa.design/whatalexasays.
Tools to Help You Design
Having expertise means you have the proper knowledge but you may still need to be reminded to apply that knowledge. To support this, the guide includes a checklist that you can reference throughout the design process.
Start Designing for Voice
A well-designed voice experience won’t just tell people what to do; it’ll invite them into a dialog. The alexa.design/guide is a collection of design patterns that you can apply to any voice experience to get that more conversational feel. Please come back often; it’s early days and we’ll keep incorporating the best practices. I’d love to continue the conversation. You can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Twitch @PaulCutsinger.
Build a Skill, Get an Echo Dot
Developers have built more than 12,000 skills with the Alexa Skills Kit. Explore the stories behind some of these innovations, then start building your own skill. If you’re serious about getting into building voice UIs, we’d like to help you explore. If you publish a skill in June, we’ll send you an Echo Dot so you can experiment and daydream.