Voice User Interface Design with Ilana Shalowitz #22

Tue Apr 17 2018 (32:50)

In this episode, Teri welcomes Ilana Shalowitz, Voice User Interface (VUI) Design Manager at Emmi, to talk about the tips and tricks that go into creating a quality voice skill or application.

Welcome Ilana Shalowitz from Emmi!

Ilana Shalowitz is the Voice User Interface (VUI) Design Manager at Emmi. She is a well-respected authority and influencer in the voice-first design technology space, having appeared on a number of podcasts, and having spoken at a number of voice-first events. She will be a keynote speaker at the Voice of Healthcare Summit at Harvard Medical School in August 2018. She joins me today to talk about some of the key principles to consider when designing a voice-first experience.

Ilana has a strong interest in communication for behaviour change. She initially studied anthropology and psychology, and then got a Masters in Marketing Communications. After working in marketing, she found a passion for design and now loves her work as a voice user interface designer!

How to Design a Voice-first User Experience

  • Recommended reading: Designing Voice User Interfaces by Cathy Pearl, and Voice User Interface Design by James P. Giangola and Jennifer Balogh
  • Research before getting started! “Understand the lay of the land”
  • Start playing around with Alexa skills in tools such as Storyline
  • Listen to conversations with an ear for how people speak to each other, to determine what makes a good audio experience.
  • Listen to recorded books on Librivox – a site where anyone can record books that are released into the public domain – to critically analyze the voice experiences to think about what would make them better experiences
  • Talk to people about your voice application, both about the idea itself (i.e. the strategic direction) and to test the conversation itself (i.e. Wizard of Oz testing)
  • Remember designing a voice user interface experience is a lot like creating art or composing music; a “tapestry” of appropriate statements “woven” together.
  • Consider how to build rapport with the user: consider your brand persona, set appropriate expectations, use the names of the users, be consistent in the way information is delivered, and develop trust.

Important Concepts to consider in Voice User Interface Design

  • Entities – important nuggets of information that someone is trying to portray (i.e. ‘Boston’ is the important entity in the statement, “I would like to book a trip to Boston.”)
  • Cognitive Load – how effortful is it for the user to understand the particular question and to answer it.
  • Listenability – how easy is it for someone to comprehend the voice experience.

Common Mistakes in Voice User Interface Design

  • Not doing user research before creating the skill.
  • Overpromising and underdelivering.

How to get Started in Voice User Interface Design as a Career

  • Join the voice user interface design community: read the latest news article, and connect with people in the community/industry
  • Emphasize your diversity and interdisciplinary background; these are great for VUI design!
  • Develop a skill of your own

Healthcare and Voice

  • Voice is at the intersection of population health and personalized medicine.
  • This is a very exciting frontier for health care over the next few years.

Thank you Ilana!

Thank you very much for sharing your expertise and knowledge with us. I learned so much and I look forward to putting these tips into practise!

List of resources mentioned in this episode: