The most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on were ones where challenges were presented through the change and innovation of technology, which ultimately affects social culture, communication and human interaction. We are now experiencing fast growth in AI, but do we have to learn all over again?
Let's not over-complicate this, voice AI is simply input-output. In the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and voice-activated devices are on the up; over 10 million Echo's have now been sold. There are countless issues for designs and for Digital Marketers; how will SEO be impacted by voice search? Security concerns aside, can companies maintain a strong brand if users communicate with them through another device?
There are issues we can, and should, be addressing now, we should be working towards solutions. How many times have you been on the phone to your bank, stuck talking to a bot because you couldn't get past the first stage of the IVR (interactive voice response)? User experience is needed in AI, and Voice Bots.
To go back to the beginning, this is a simple input-output function.
But do we need to learn it all again?
Traditionally, input would be your keyboard, mouse and trackpad. The change for us as designers is that we no longer have control over the input or output, the input is now a constant flow, constantly open, once the vocal command has been made the bot will gather the information and attempt to respond to you. Great, but not if you are in a noisy room, or you are half way through your Amazon order and someone in the room shouts out for something which then gets added to your shopping basket. This damages experiences with your service and will have a negative impact on your brand.
Solving problems like ordering the wrong items is easy, but keeping it to voice control is the challenging part. This is where Voice UX comes in. You could teach your voice application to accept only certain criteria, or even redesign fields to be much more interactive and respond with questions, to gain further knowledge of your request before trying to fulfil it. However, the user will need to know what the limitations of your service are, and learn how to interact with it. Overcoming these issues will only come with applying intuition and empathy. We need user research led design; the techniques are the same, it's all the same learning we've experienced before, just with a new medium. Like any fast adopting tech it's advisable to work with your developers in the early stages to really understand the limitations.
Wrapping things up, UX design underpins the majority of brands we interact with today and it's time to invest and lead the way. If you're looking for more information or even inspiration on Voice, look outside of the normal fields. Contact Centre and IVR experts have been working with these issues for years, in fact, Alexa is late to the party in comparison to the early pioneers of interactive voice response technologies.