Voice assistant technology has been one of the fastest-growing consumer industries for a number of years. Studies show that nearly 40% of Americans use voice assistants regularly in their everyday life, and this number continues to climb each year. Despite some common glitches in voice-assisted technology, this is also an area where the technology consistently improves. This means that products become increasingly more streamlined and customers have an increasingly positive and helpful experience using voice-activated tools.
Voice assistants have really slotted into our lives in an unobtrusive way. Many people do not think consciously about using them and have simply acclimatized to them. You can ask your voice assistant on your smartphone to play music for you, help you fall asleep, or bring up an app. The reason that voice technology often feels so seamless to use is down to several carefully designed elements that experts and builders take into account. We look at some of the most important features you should consider for building effective voice assistants.
6 Design Elements to Consider When Designing Voice Assistants
1. Voice Personality
When you design voice-activated assistants for your brand, you should choose a voice that reflects your platform’s personality. Voice assistants should not sound sterile and robotic as this tends to put users off. One of the main points about voice-activated technology is that it should give customers an organic search experience. They shouldn’t feel like they are talking to a machine.
Selecting your voice personality to suit your brand will make intuitive sense to your consumer and help them feel that the voice fits the context. This is important, as humans judge information based on context, unlike machines, which judge on data alone. If your app is designed to help people relax, they will feel more relaxed with a soothing, comforting voice. Likewise, a fun, motivational voice can be better for a workout or game app.
2. Organic Action Invocation
As humans, we do not interact like machines. Language is complicated, and we have various ways of saying the same thing. The best voice assistants can pick up on nuance and will respond to various invocation commands. For example, different people may say things differently.
If you tell a voice assistant to “start music” or “play music,” you want it to understand both. Carrying out rigorous testing is useful for this, as you can begin to understand speech patterns. This will help you build options into your bot based on what people are likely to say in any given scenario.
3. Practical Uses for Voice Assistants
When you’re designing voice-controlled digital assistants, you should consider how and when someone might use them. For example, if your app is designed to be used at work, you will want voice responses to be informative, formal, and to the point. Similarly, if it is a sleep aid app, you do not want users to have to engage much after the initial invocation, as this will interrupt their sleep. Always keep functional use in mind.
4. Error Response Settings
Digital voice-activated assistants are somewhat famous for errors and misunderstandings. Although the technology has improved drastically in recent years, miscommunications still occur. Make sure you have a friendly and functional error prompt built into your UI. Perhaps ask your user to search again or suggest alternative options. This can help interactions run smoothly and feel more natural than a straightforward error alert.
Unlike machines, human communication is based on context and memory. We judge information based on the context, and we are great at remembering the context of many different scenarios. Although a machine cannot currently do this, you can improve your voice assistant’s answers by improving context-awareness. This can be done through personalization and by using data to understand and partially predict user responses. It is one of the things that future voice assistants will no doubt master as the design improves.
6. Human Touches
Again, human interaction is very different from machine processing. Humans engage in things like humor and small talk to make themselves comfortable and create bonds. Therefore, when you’re designing a voice assistant, you should incorporate some elements of this into your design. Provide humorous options for miscellaneous questions or allow for some small talk upon installation. This will help your user begin to trust the product and feel less like they are talking to a machine.
There’s no doubt that voice assistant apps and technologies will only improve and grow more ubiquitous over time. Remembering your customer is key when it comes to designing voice assistants. As well as keeping in mind things like organic communication style and functionality. If you remember these three things, you’ll be well on your way.
(Content Update: 22.05.2023)
Thomas Glare is a technology writer with years of experience in software development. One of his designs is a fishing frenzy free game. He has a deep understanding of software applications in solving everyday problems. When he’s not spending time being active, he’s researching solutions to a problem that plagues man on a daily basis.