Voice User Interfaces

Your constantly-updated definition of Voice User Interfaces and collection of topical content and literature

What are Voice User Interfaces?

Voice user interfaces (VUIs) allow the user to interact with a system through voice or speech commands. Virtual assistants, such as Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, are examples of VUIs. The primary advantage of a VUI is that it allows for a hands-free, eyes-free way in which users can interact with a product while focusing their attention elsewhere.

Applying the same design guidelines to VUIs as to graphical user interfaces is impossible. In a VUI, there are no visual affordances; so, when looking at a VUI, users have no clear indications of what the interface can do or what their options are. When designing VUI actions, it is thus important that the system clearly state possible interaction options, tell the user what functionality he/she is using, and limit the amount of information it gives out to an amount that users can remember.

Because individuals normally associate voice with interpersonal communication rather than with person-technology interaction, they are sometimes unsure of the complexity to which the VUI can understand. Hence, for a VUI to succeed, it not only requires an excellent ability to understand spoken language but also needs to train users to understand what type of voice commands they can use and what type of interactions they can perform. The intricate nature of a user’s conversing with a VUI means a designer needs to pay close attention to how easily a user might overstep with expectations. This is why designing the product in such a simple, almost featureless form is important—to keep the user mindful that a two-way “human” conversation is infeasible. Likewise, the user’s patience in building a communications “rapport” will help improve satisfaction when the VUI, becoming increasingly acquainted with the speaker’s voice (which the speaker will use more effectively), rewards him/her with more accurate responses.

Literature on Voice User Interfaces

Here’s the entire UX literature on Voice User Interfaces by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Voice User Interfaces

Take a deep dive into Voice User Interfaces with our course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide .

User experience, or UX, has been a buzzword since about 2005, and according to tech research firm Gartner, the focus on digital experience is no longer limited to digital-born companies anymore. Chances are, you’ve heard of the term, or even have it on your portfolio. But, like most of us, there’s also a good chance that you sometimes feel unsure of what the term “user experience” actually covers.

[User experience] is used by people to say, Im a user experience designer, I design websites, or I design apps. [] and they think the experience is that simple device, the website, or the app, or who knows what. No! Its everythingits the way you experience the world, its the way you experience your life, its the way you experience the service. Or, yeah, an app or a computer system. But its a system thats everything.

Don Norman, pioneer and inventor of the term user experience”, in an interview with NNGroup

As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers a number of different areas. When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to have a good understanding of what those areas are so that you know what tools are available to you.

Throughout this course, you will gain a thorough understanding of the various design principles that come together to create a user’s experience when using a product or service. As you proceed, you’ll learn the value user experience design brings to a project, and what areas you must consider when you want to design great user experiences. Because user experience is an evolving term, we can’t give you a definition of ‘user experience’ to end all discussions, but we will provide you with a solid understanding of the different aspects of user experience, so it becomes clear in your mind what is involved in creating great UX designs.

If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and with a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention. That way, you’ll find it easy to continue your learning journey.

All Literature

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