UX Design for Speakers, Soundbars, and AVRs
Your customer is going to take a journey with your AVS product. From taking it out of the box, to setting it up, to discovering what it can do, to making it a part of their everyday lives, the journey should be as easy and delightful as possible.
This page describes general UX guidelines that will help you give your customers a great Alexa experience with smart speakers, soundbars, or audio/video receivers (AVRs). It focuses on Alexa-related materials and key touch-points that your customers will experience, along with links to more specific UX guidelines.
- Alexa on your device
- OOBE and setup
- Product Launch
While your product will have unique design considerations, the user experience best practices listed on this page will give your design process a good start. Following these recommendations will also fulfill some of the AVS Functional Requirements.
Alexa on your device
When integrating Alexa with your device, it is important to plan how you want customers to interact with her. The physical affordances provided by your product to interact with Alexa will depend on what type of device you are creating and where it will likely be placed by the customer. Will your product have microphones? Will it be primarily voice-initiated or touch-initiated?
Your product must have both a physical way to interact with Alexa, normally buttons on the device, and visible ways to communicate what state Alexa is in, such as when she is listening, thinking, or speaking.
Voice or touch-initiated
In most cases, getting the best out of an Alexa integration with your product involves allowing the customer to wake Alexa using their voice. While a physical affordance to wake or interrupt Alexa is required, a voice-initiated product lets the customer just say the wake word "Alexa" followed by their request, giving them a hands-free experience. This implementation highlights the utility of voice, but provides the flexibility for customers to interact with Alexa by pressing a button when that works better for them.
Making your product voice-initiated is the right option if it has a microphone array, an AC adapter (or a robust battery) for power, and has the processing capability to handle the wake word monitoring and recognition system. It is also important if your device may be located where it is difficult for the customer to reach.
If your product does not meet the voice-initiated device requirements, you may choose to create a touch-initiated product. These devices generally have one microphone or a limited battery supply. Touch-initiated products are not wake word-enabled and rely on physical interactions, such as tapping or holding a button, to interact with Alexa.
If you are creating a product with no microphones, you will need to rely on other devices to initiate customer requests. However, the rest of the audio response guidance still applies.
Any product with audio output (speakers) must render all Alexa audio responses. It must allow customers to interrupt Alexa responses, alerts, and other content. We also strongly recommend supporting Multi-Room Music and Alexa music casting from any capable device.
For more information on audio requirements, see Audio Hardware Configurations.
AVS devices might be used under a wide variety of conditions, and sometimes using your voice to start an interaction with Alexa may not be desired, or even possible. Under those conditions, or if your product is touch-initiated, it is important to provide easily accessible and understandable physical controls.
At a minimum, voice-initiated products require at least one physical affordance for interacting with Alexa, an Action button. For an ideal customer experience, buttons to interact with Alexa should be located on the device, easy to reach, and it should be easy to understand their functions. This is especially true for touch-initiated devices, where making access convenient is vital to engagement. If it is not possible to put the controls on your device, you may still have the Action button, and other physical controls, reside in the companion app. Note: if your device is touch-initiated and does not use the wake word, the Wake Word On/Off button is not required.”
For more information, see AVS UX for Product Buttons.
It is vitally important that your customer always knows what Alexa is doing and when she is listening. Alexa's state can be communicated through visual (eg. colored LEDs) and audio cues.
Alexa has many attention states, which are detailed in the AVS UX Attention System page. The most fundamental of these, called the core states, are Listening, Thinking, and Speaking. Each state has visual and sound cues associated with it which inform the customer about what Alexa is doing.
For the best experience, the visual attention system should:
- Be easily visible
- Support a full range of colors
- Support animations such as pulsing and blinking
- Change with no delay when Alexa's state changes.
Likewise, using sound cues will confirm that customer requests are in process even when they are not looking at the device. For sounds, you should:
- Locally store all of the sound cue files that are still required when the internet connection is lost and sounds cannot be streamed from the Amazon cloud
- Use the sound cue files that are optimized for your speaker quality, as described on the attention system page
- Play sounds with no delay, and for the duration specified in the sound cue requirements.
See the attention system guidance page for more details on the product requirements.
OOBE and setup
Your customer may not be familiar with Alexa. And they will certainly want to learn about what your product can do, and how Alexa can help. The Out-Of-Box Experience (OOBE), including packaging and setup, is crucial to educating and delighting your customer.
Packaging and printed materials
Your product packaging, and the printed materials inside such as a user guide, provide your first opportunity to introduce product and Alexa capabilities. In addition to adhering to our marketing and branding guidelines, these materials should:
- Educate customers about the benefits of using Alexa on the device
- Highlight interesting or relevant Alexa capabilities and use cases
- Showcase features of your product that will surprise and delight your customer
- Offer example customer utterances (Things to Try)
- Introduce ways for the customer to explore and learn more
- Offer easy suggestions to get help if the customer is confused or needs more information.
If your device does not have easily identifiable physical buttons to interact with Alexa, your materials should also include:
- How to start an Alexa interaction
- How to interrupt Alexa
- How to turn the wake word on and off, if your product is voice-initiated.
Setup and authentication
Device setup can be intimidating to many customers. It helps to have a well designed product companion app with a clear and easy-to-follow set of instructions for setting up and configuring your product.
AVS provides prebuilt, or hosted, screens for use during OOBE setup and education. See the Setup and Authentication page for more information. In addition, there are UX Logo and Brand Usage guidelines for the device and companion app screens you will create.
After Alexa is set up, your companion app will still be important as a source of information and education for the customer, as well as a place to access settings that are not available in the Alexa app. Continuing to help customers explore is important to driving ongoing engagement with your product.
Both product and Alexa settings should always be easy to find and understand. Try to give your customer as much control over their experience as you can, especially for functions that are not available in the Alexa app. These are some of the settings you can include in your product's companion app:
- Signing in and out
- Enabling and disabling the start and stop listening sounds (only for products with prominent visual attention systems)
- Alexa language selection.
If the customer chooses not to enable Alexa initially during setup, it should be easy to locate and enable in the future.
For more information on creating your companion app, see:
- Design a Companion App Experience
- Setup and Authentication UX guidance for products and companion apps
- Technical info on authorization from a companion app.
You should be familiar with the AVS Marketing and Branding Guidelines as you develop plans for your product.
You also may be interested in the Alexa badging program. Amazon provides a certification process allowing you to earn either the "Alexa Built-in" or "Works With Alexa" badges for use with your product.
There is help available for you throughout your development process. This web site has documentation on design, development, and marketing. To start, check out these pages:
- Available resources for speakers, soundbars, and AVRs
- Dev kits are available to help your development effort
- Getting started with AVS, including technical documentation
- Complete UX Guidelines including setup, attention system, and more
- AVS Functional Requirements
- AVS Program Requirements
- AVS Marketing and Branding Guidelines
- AVS device certification process
- AVS device self-testing process
- Forum and Knowledge Base