A Short Guide on Designing for Voice User Interfaces (VUI) - Current Trends and Best Practices

Voice user interfaces (VUIs) are gaining increasing popularity, offering a hands-free approach to interacting with technology. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who are multitasking, driving, or have limited mobility. As VUI design advances, there are several prevailing trends and best practices that designers should bear in mind. 


1. Conversational design 

A pivotal principle of VUI design is fostering a conversational experience. This entails employing natural language and informing users with lucid prompts and responses. Designers should also deconstruct intricate tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. For instance, rather than instructing a user, "Set a timer for 20 minutes," a VUI designer might say something like, "For how long should I set the timer?" or "Shall I set a timer for 20 minutes?" 

2. Context awareness 

VUIs should possess context awareness, enabling them to adapt to users' present situations. For example, if a user is driving, the VUI should recognise their potential limitations and offer straightforward, voice-activated commands like "Activate the left indicator" or "Call my spouse." 

3. Error handling 

Error handling crafting VUIs with graceful error-handling capabilities is imperative. This involves presenting users with clear and succinct error messages that assist them in comprehending the issue and rectifying it. For instance, if a user says, "Play some music," but the VUI fails to understand the request, an appropriate response might be, "I'm uncertain about your request. Could you rephrase it, please?" 

4. Accessibility 

Accessibility VUIs must be accessible to all, including individuals with disabilities. This necessitates the use of plain and concise language, avoiding technical jargon, and providing alternative means for users to engage with the VUI, such as via text or buttons. 

5. Personalisation 

VUIs can be tailored to individual users, enhancing the experience's engagement and efficiency. For instance, a VUI could retain the user's preferred music, news sources, or settings. This saves users time and effort while imbuing the VUI with a more personalised, assistant-like aura. 

What are your thoughts? This is just a snapshot of prevailing trends and best practices. As VUI technology continues its evolution, it remains crucial for designers to remain current to fashion effective and user-friendly VUIs. 

We would love to hear your thoughts. Get in touch: info@thecommerceteam.com  


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