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9 Best Practices for Voice User Interface Design

Table of Contents

With technology comes convenience. Voice User Interface (VUI has broken the silent relationship between machines and humans). Voice-activated gadgets and virtual assistants have become increasingly common and ready to answer our questions like,
User: Alexa, which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Alexa: Nobody knows this, but it was a tie.

Users can interact with a device or app using voice commands thanks to VUI. Screen fatigue is now more generally encountered due to the rising use of digital gadgets. And this has made the creation and application of voice user interfaces even more advantageous.

Brands have incorporated voice interfaces to include interactive services that make user experience smooth and convenient. Leading agencies like Boltd offer Alexa Skill Development services and create skills optimum for your brand’s needs. One of the skills integral to voice user interface is developing conversational dialog script. A lot of thought and precision goes behind VUI to attain the desired response from the user.
Following are the best practices to follow while designing VUI in Alexa conversations to make sure Alexa responds and performs well:

End the Prompt With a Question

Upon hearing a question, the customer’s first instinct will be to act upon it. This method directs a user toward the objectives of your skill while also alerting them that it is their chance to talk now. For example:
Alexa: We have plain, wheat and cheese crusts. Which kind of crust would you like?
Whereas, there’s a high chance of the user interrupting before the options are listed down by Alexa. To avoid such interjections, always end a prompt with a question. It will guide the customer directly to a response.

Limit Lists to Four Items

Alexa conversations has lists support. This allows you to design a dialogue where users can respond in lists. Users get fatigued when bombarded with options because they are unable to remember all of them at once. The golden number here is four. On average, humans’ working memory allows them to hold only four items at once.

Alexa: What toppings do you want on your pizza?

User: “I want cheese, pepperoni, and olives.”

Alexa: Would you prefer black or green olives?

User: “Black olives.

Alexa: Okay, here’s a thin-crust pizza with cheese, pepperoni and black olives. Anything else?


Context Switching Designing is Not Required

Designing for context switching separately is not required because guess what? Alexa handles that for you! Sample dialogues train Alexa to look at corrections or context switching and do not call for extra designing.

For instance, if a customer ordered a cheese pepperoni pizza with olives, and then decided they do not want olives, you need not worry about designing any dialogues to handle this and can leave it to Alexa conversations. Thus, spend your time only in designing the foundation dialogues of your skill in order to train the AI.

Interesting read – Check out our blog comparing Alexa and Google Assistant

Remember to Acknowledge Requests Explicitly

Users must be assured that they are being heard correctly. Furthermore, while pronouns can be used in user utterances in Alexa conversations, it is advised to use pronouns sparingly when Alexa talks.

To confirm requests, especially, use of pronouns should be avoided by Alexa.

Alexa: OK, so I’ve got a New York cheesecake and a family size rice bowl. Anything else?
User: How much is the family size?
Alexa: It’s ₹480. Do you want a different one?

Act and Co-Act Towards a Goal

The cooperative principle states that in every conversation, the speaker and the listener are actively working towards a common goal and not just conversing endlessly with no goal. Similarly, following the principle, the dialogues should be made goal-oriented. The idea is to prompt a customer forward, instead of an aimless exchange of words.

Aid Users in Discovering New Skills

Help the user discover the possibilities before allowing them to look for more natural conversational patterns. Provide suggestions for first-time users, when a user needs assistance or when you add new features.
Alexa: You can change your current city name at any time.
However, do not dictate verbatim what to say or instruct users on how to pronounce certain words. Doing so creates the notion that this is the only method of engaging with the skill.
Once a certain goal is completed, you can further actively engage users with other features that they may not discover on their own.

Design Sample Dialogues for 80% of Use Cases

It is recommended to cover 80% of your skill through Alexa conversations sample dialogues. Using a first approach natural dialogue, you can easily build conversations and cover any remaining one-shot interactions using the usual interaction model if required.

Cover your Skill’s Core Experience

Your dialogues are mere samples of what a user might say to help train the AI for a more flexible, natural conversation that can easily switch context. The variations, thus, are calculated by the AI for you. Not every possible variant needs to be written out.

Leave Room for More

Users frequently anticipate voice interactions to be limited, step-based interactions. They believe that they must respond to a game of 15 questions before they reach the end goal. Ask open-ended inquiries and change expectations instead of hand-holding throughout the experience. This gives users the chance to interact and convey beyond the given options.

All the food talk has surely made us hungry. At the same time, we truly can’t wait to collaborate and design dialogues with you. Building custom skills is a team job, us and you! You are only a click away from joining forces with one of the fastest growing voice-based app development companies in the world, what are you waiting for!

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