fbpx
AI and Telehealth: The Next Frontier in UX

AI and Telehealth: The Next Frontier in UX

By | healthcaretech, interaction design, mobile, UX | No Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic showed that artificial intelligence (AI) and telehealth technology aren’t just fancy trends in the medical industry. They are necessities that healthcare providers must adopt in order to remain efficient in current conditions. It’s true that discussions about the functionality of AI-driven telemedicine solutions are quite popular among developers and tech managers of medical organizations. Yet, the user experience (UX) aspect of AI in telehealth is rarely the main point and, as a result, gets far less attention.

We believe that experience optimization is invaluable regardless of industry and product type. Telehealth AI innovations can transform healthcare systems only when it both improves patient care and makes daily tasks easier for doctors.. 

This is why we want to take a look at how AI and telehealth are changing the way patients and clinicians interact and engage. We’ll also discuss how these technologies can potentially disrupt the UX of an entire health-tech discipline. 

Accurate diagnoses 

Many people still prefer traditional doctor’s visits to telemedicine appointments. They believe that long-distance communication via a video call doesn’t allow physicians to properly diagnose patients. While it may be true for some cases, the implementation of artificial intelligence in telehealth can radically change this situation. AI-powered software solutions open doors to almost infinite opportunities in health diagnostics, eliminating most concerns about the risk of incorrect diagnoses. 

telehealth
Image source: bccourier.com

Machine learning algorithms embedded in telemedicine systems can analyze the patient’s health data from electronic medical records (EMR). By combining this information with other important characteristics like gender, age, and prior medical conditions, an AI-enabled telehealth application can help doctors quickly form accurate diagnoses and provide patients with relevant treatment recommendations despite the distance. 

Automated collection of information

Artificial intelligence can enhance the patient journey by enabling the automated collection of information before a video call. Getting the complete and detailed data about the person’s symptoms will help doctors spend a telemedicine appointment more productively, speed up the care process, and improve medical decision-making.

health chatbot
Image source: devpost.com

In this context, designing a human-like conversational experience is critical to make patients feel cared for and forget that they are talking to a machine or chatbot. Otherwise, the solution may have the opposite effect. In particular, it’ll create an impression that a person’s health issues are not important enough to be examined by a real physician. 

Enhanced personalization

When it comes to user experience trends in healthcare, we cannot ignore various personalization capabilities that can be greatly improved with the help of AI and telehealth. Different medical apps existing on the market today can provide users with some basic information about their symptoms or diseases. However, they aren’t powerful enough to augment the first line of primary care. 

Image source: www.dribbble.com/dfarnold32

At the same time, AI software can focus on unique patient’s needs and offer users treatment options relevant to their specific cases. Additionally, predictive analytics can help doctors anticipate possible complications and take necessary preventive measures. This creates a solid foundation for taking the quality of care to the next level and enhancing both the patient experiences and outcomes. 

Remote patient monitoring

AI telehealth solutions can reduce the need for face-to-face consultations with physicians through efficient remote health monitoring. Elderly people and people with chronic diseases have to visit doctors on a regular basis just to make sure that their health indicators remain in the normal range. While such visits are necessary, they take a lot of time and put patients at risk of catching viruses and infections in hospitals and clinics. In addition, they increase the workload for doctors, making the visits labor-intensive and exhaustive. 

medical wearable
Image source: www.mime.asia

Telehealth apps can reduce the number of mandatory medical check-ups by allowing clinicians to monitor the patient’s heartbeat, blood pressure, temperature, and other vital signs at a distance. If combined with artificial intelligence, such solutions can detect dangerous health conditions early on and alert users and their doctors about possible risks. For instance,  AiCure, a New York-based company has developed a platform that enables physicians to track progress in the patient’s treatment based on their facial expressions. 

telehealth app
Image source: cdn.nanalyze.com
Image credit: AiCure

Streamlined processes 

Assessing symptoms and diagnosing patients via video calls are not the only tasks necessary for doctors to perform in order to provide quality telemedicine services. Along with other medical staff, they need to complete a lot of administrative tasks that have a great impact on the overall patient experience. Statistics show that physicians spend about 50 percent of their time on paperwork and processing documents. 

Implementation of AI-driven solutions can help hospitals and clinics improve workflows and make administrative work less burdensome and time-consuming. For instance, voice-controlled tools that are based on natural language processing (NLP) technology can simplify the management of patients’ medical records (electronic medical records (EMR)/electronic health records (EHR)). Also, machine learning (ML) powered virtual assistance can give doctors recommendations about prescriptions they may want to consider when evaluating patients.

Matching a patient with a doctor

Many fears that people have about telemedicine are related to choosing the right medical professional. Unlike in-person visits, video calls provide limited opportunities to create an emotional connection with a doctor. As a result, the patient may have doubts about a clinician’s qualification even if everything went well during the appointment.

Image source: www.dribbble.com/sauvignon

ML algorithms can use a person’s health data to better find a doctor who has the most suitable expertise. Such AI-assisted telehealth software will help patients feel more comfortable about the fact that they’re treated remotely. In addition, it will simplify the work for hospital administrators, freeing up their time for other important tasks.

Wrapping-up

UX is invaluable for all types of digital products and telehealth isn’t an exception. Artificial intelligence can allow medical organizations to create telemedicine solutions with intentional user experience design. It will enhance the patient journey and make remote clinical services more efficient. In particular, AI-enabled software can help hospitals and clinics automate the collection of information, improve diagnostics, monitor patients’ health conditions remotely, streamline administrative processes, and pick the right medical professional based on patient’s health data. 

Looking for a skillful team to create a perfect UX design for your telemedicine solution? Contact us!

Why UX in Healthcare Technology Matters and Where It’s Going | 2020

Why UX in Healthcare Technology Matters and Where It’s Going | 2020

By | branding, interaction design, user experience, user interface, UX | No Comments

New challenges in the healthcare industry accelerate the development of healthcare innovation. Striving to improve patient care, hospitals and clinics seek ways to digitize medical services and internal administrative processes. But while a lot of attention is focused on functionality, the role of a user experience design in healthcare software often remains undervalued.

In this article, we’ll outline key trends in medical technologies. We’ll also explain how quality UX design can help healthcare providers deliver better patient experience.

Telemedicine

With the help of telemedicine, physicians can consult, diagnose and treat patients remotely using telecommunication technology. A typical telemedicine appointment looks like a traditional visit to a doctor’s office. The only difference is that the patient and doctor communicate online. Video conferencing solutions and remote health monitoring apps are the most popular tools that medical organizations use for delivering clinical services from a distance. But the concept is constantly evolving so there is a lot of room for new ideas.

telemedicine
Image source: dribbble
Image credit: Alexander Plyuto

Potential telemedicine solution users aren’t a homogeneous group. In other words, UX design of this software must be created with different categories of patients in mind. In particular, to build an inclusive telemedicine application, UX designers should take into account such characteristics as users’ age, mental states, and tech skills.

Ideally, a telemedicine appointment should resemble a face-to-face visit as closely as possible. So when working with this healthcare technology, designers have to recapture the feeling of real-life experience for patients and doctors. This is obviously vital with this current COVID-19 pandemic.

Health wearables

Smartwatches and fitness trackers became mainstream soon after they appeared on the market. And their popularity continues to soar. For example, one study shows that the number of wearable devices is forecast to hit 1.1 billion by 2022. But the growth isn’t just in quantity. Technological developments allow app creators to expand and enhance the functionality of wearables, turning them into useful healthcare technology tools.

health wearables
Image source: melmagazine.com

Most regular smartwatches and fitness trackers can monitor basic metrics like the person’s heart rate, steps, and sleep patterns. Medical devices are much more advanced and can also detect different deviations in users’ health conditions. For instance, they can identify atrial fibrillation by tracking the person’s heart rhythms.

To build a successful UX design for a health wearable, designers should properly prioritize information. A device must be simple and intuitive so users don’t feel confused when they need to quickly find necessary data or functions.

Healthcare chatbots

In healthcare, the chatbot technology is still in the early stage of implementation. Yet, it has the potential to become the industry standard in the next few years. Today, hospitals and clinics use chatbots mostly for experience optimization. For example, there are chatbots that help patients book appointments, connect patients with doctors, or collect feedback after a consultation.

But it’s expected that digital assistants will eventually become the first line of primary care. In particular, they’ll be able to analyze health information provided by a user and offer responses with personalized instructions.

If powered by artificial intelligence, healthcare chatbots can help medical organizations deliver patient-centric services while reducing workload for doctors. It’s important to remember that people who seek medical advice need to feel cared for even if they talk to a machine. So the main task of UX designers is to make an interaction with a bot very similar to chatting with a real person.

Medical virtual reality

Virtual reality opens doors to a variety of new opportunities for the healthcare industry. First of all, this technology improves training methods for doctors. It also allows them to master professional skills without risking the health and life of real patients. Research shows that surgeons who used the VR platform for simulating operations enhanced their performance by 230 percent compared with doctors who used traditional training techniques.

medical vr
Image source: healthiar.com

Another use case of virtual reality in healthcare is the reduction of pain and discomfort during unpleasant treatment procedures. For instance, VR healthcare technology comes in handy when a patient needs to sit for hours to undergo lengthy chemotherapy. VR can also help people with amputated limbs get accustomed to prosthetics.

Building a UX design for a VR-based healthcare solution is an extremely encompassing task. Designers working on such projects need to clearly outline the needs of a target audience and make accuracy their top priority.

Electronic health records

EHR solutions aren’t a new thing for medical organizations. Hospitals and clinics have been using this type of software for a long time. The purpose of EHR is to digitize medical charts and records while reducing the amount of paperwork needed. While this healthcare technology is widely adopted, its usability, in general, remains at a questionable level. As a result, nurses and physicians cannot fully rely on the system, as it may lead to errors and patient safety risks.

EHR system
Image source: sapristic-biion.com

Before creating a UX design for EHR software, designers need to study how medical staff will interact with a system. What is a user’s typical sequence of actions? Which fields are mandatory and which of them can be left blank? Is there something a user can forget to do after inserting information in a chart? Conducting extensive UX research will be very helpful during the early stages of development. But designers must also perform user testing and quality assurance at a later phase to ensure that a solution is user-friendly and effective.

UX and healthcare technology in a snapshot

Medical technologies aim to improve the efficiency of healthcare, enhance the patient experience, and make the doctors’ hard work a little bit easier. The UX design plays an important role in whether a particular health app meets these goals or not.

When deciding to develop a medical solution, healthcare providers must pay attention not only to its functionality but also to the user experience. At the same time, designers engaged in such projects must understand the specifics of the medical sector and be ready to deal with great responsibility that comes with tasks.

Looking for the right team of UX designers for your healthcare development project? Drop us a line!

The State of UX for 2020

The State of UX for 2020

By | customer experience, design, digital transformation, interaction design, user experience, user interface | No Comments

We expect 2020 to be a momentous year in the space of UX design. New technology and user experience trends during the last decade have made competition across most modern industries tougher than ever before. Naturally, this motivates businesses to put even a greater focus on the user experience.

Today, the challenge in sensing customers’ needs and wants is no longer enough to stand out and be successful. Companies that want to win a higher market share must also be a step ahead of the herd and anticipate future UX trends.

To give you a leg up, we’ve collected the latest trends of the digital world which, we believe, will shape user experience in 2020. Give them a look and make strategic decisions before your rivals do.

Even more personalized experience

Personalization has been an essential part of experience optimization for a while already. However, as technologies continue to evolve businesses become better able to precisely tailor their offers to different users.

Besides using cookies that store only basic information about a user, website and app owners may now take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies (e.g. advanced data analytics, machine and deep learning). They open doors to a whole bunch of new UX-related opportunities and experiences.

A great example is Netflix. This well-known video-streaming service applies machine learning algorithms to provide every user with relevant content by personalizing recommendations, push notifications, and search results.

netflix screenshot

Starbucks goes even further. It combines AI with geolocation technology to deliver a truly futuristic experience. In particular, users of its famous location-aware app receive highly personalized promo messages at the time when they are in a specific place, i.e. near the Starbucks shop.

startbucks screenshot
Image source: Build Fire

In 2020 there won’t even be a question whether to make your app user-centric or not. The key differentiator will be the extent to which you’re ready to personalize your product.

Voice user interfaces are getting to their peak

In today’s fast-paced world time is money, and its value is high. Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) and virtual assistants help users navigate through an app faster while the handsfree capabilities allow users to multitask. No wonder voice user interface interaction has been on the top of UX trends for the last several years. The question is; what will happen with Voice User Interfaces (VUI) in 2020?

Well, VUI will continue to strengthen its position as the second most popular type of app navigation after graphical user interface (GUI). Is there a chance it’ll leapfrog GUI on the list?

We don’t see that happening next year. But voice-assisted UI will definitely continue getting closer to the first position in the ranking. There is even a quite promising prediction made by ComScore in 2016 that nearly half of searches will be voice searches in 2020.

Voice search by 2020
Image source: Milestone Insights Voice Search Report

We still expect a significant shift in the quality of VUIs. As natural language processing (NLP) technology is evolving, voice interactions and voice assistants become more effective in finding accurate answers. Besides, our interaction with them will also become more natural. It’ll resemble more human-to-human communication rather than a conversation with a robot.

Alexa chatting
Image source: SnapTravel

On top of that, the array of tasks we can perform with a voice command will probably increase in 2020. For instance, Google Duplex, a new project by Google, has already enabled setting up appointments over the phone without any interaction with a person on the other end from a user’s side.

Google Duplex
Image source: Google

Introduction of a Chief Experience Officer position

Creating a user experience that is both holistic and consistent is crucial for enhancing the usability of a product and making a brand memorable. Traditionally, UX professionals or a designer together with a marketing team has been responsible for ensuring this part of the development. But the situation is quite different now.

The list of platforms today’s organizations use to maintain their digital presence is not limited to a website and mobile app. Wearables and smart devices are growing in popularity, the number of social media channels is increasing and becoming more complex. In general, markets are becoming ever more dynamic. Ensuring a positive customer experience is now a much more complex activity than it used to be. This is why a new C-level executive position is necessary.

As of the end of 2019, not many businesses introduced the position of CXO. Introducing this position to your business will give you a significant competitive advantage for your company in the coming year. In particular, a chief experience officer will help you perform a comprehensive visual audit and build a holistic UX design system.

The rise of VR & AR in fashion and e-commerce

In 2020, Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Reality or Augmented Reality (AR) technologies will continue blurring the borders between the real and digital worlds. The success which such pioneers as Ikea, Toyota, LEGO, and Zara reached with their VR/AR-powered apps has inspired many other businesses to take a fresh look at the way they promote and sell products.

LEGO ar app
Image source: kidscreen.com

The development of applications containing virtual reality or augmented reality elements has also become more accessible in terms of costs and availability of specialists. All these factors lay the groundwork for a boom in VR/AR that can happen any year now. Of course, not all business areas will adopt these technologies equally fast. But such sectors as interior design, e-commerce, and fashion will likely become dependent on this type of interaction design in the near future.

For instance, at the beginning of this year, Gucci launched its AR-based app that allows users to try on sneakers by pointing a smartphone camera at their feet.

Gucci AR app
Image source: designboom.com

In May, Nike released its own mobile app that uses augmented reality technology to help customers accurately define their size.

Since online shopping is an active and ever-growing niche (e.g. about 60 percent of millennials prefer it over traditional shopping), we have all reason to believe that similar functionality will become industry standard quite soon.

3D design is taking over the app world

In our 2019 State of UX article, we were writing about Memoji which had been introduced with the release of iOS12. In the last twelve months, designers have started to use both static and dynamic 3D elements more frequently. The trend of 3D design has become vivid and noticeable.

Besides being eye-catching, a 3D presentation of interfaces helps to deliver a truly realistic user experience. A study shows that modern people are online for nearly 7 hours per day. This means that we spend an enormous amount of time in a virtual environment.

A 3D view makes our stay there more natural and comfortable. That’s why leveraging the power of 3D will be a great idea for all app creators and website owners in 2020.

3d design app
Image credit: Chris Frank

In case you’re not sure if 3D elements will suit the overall visual identity of your brand, you can perform a site design audit before introducing any changes. Doing so will make it easier for you to get to grips with the big picture and make informed decisions.

Adaptability to the new foldable phones

The year of 2019 has been an important milestone for phone manufacturers all over the world. The long-awaited foldable displays finally became a reality. Practically all market leaders either expressed their interest in developing such a device or unveiled their prototypes capable of being folded in numerous different ways.

Realizing that stakes were high, Samsung tried to outrun its competitors. In April, the company pre-released its Galaxy Fold, the world’s first foldable smartphone.

Galaxy Fold
Image source: Samsung

Although the device was exposed to a number of quality concerns and Samsung had to delay its release, we have all reason to expect that foldable displays will enter the global mass market in 2020. This will naturally bring a lot of changes to user experience, for example:

  • A grip will depend on whether a person is holding a folded and unfolded device. The main task of UX designers is to make it convenient for both cases.
  • A user will have to be able to switch between different forms of a device seamlessly. That’s why app creators must ensure the continuity of an application, meaning that a person should have an opportunity to continue using it when upgrading to a new device.
  • Unfolded devices will allow users to have multiple active apps on their screens. So to create a truly outstanding user experience, designers will need to keep this multitasking capability in mind.
Galaxy Fold
Image source: Samsung

Versatile UX for device-neutral apps

Ever since the IoT technology came on the scene, the discussions about platform-agnostic applications have never left the tech community. Nowadays, our personal digital ecosystem is much richer than five, three, or even two years ago. We use mobile phones, PC, and laptops interchangeably on a daily basis but also wearables, smart home appliances (like Google home), and car dashboards (like the one Tesla offers).

For many years, responsiveness has been the main requirement of web solutions. However, responsive design is no longer optional, it’s the default. Today’s users will unlikely to tolerate an application that doesn’t adjust to screen size or platform.

responsive design
Image source: giphy.com

But, on top of that, they expect to receive an integrated experience. This means that information must be consistent across all the systems. And the process should be continuous, allowing a user to pick it up at any point on any device.

That’s why we foresee that device integration and synchronization will get to the forefront next year. Logically, creating a versatile UX design will become a huge new challenge for designers in 2020.

User control over the content

The interactive experience is another ‘big thing’ that has a huge potential to become a major UX trend in 2020. To be precise, some forward-thinking marketers had been trying to promote products with the help of interactive videos before. But this type of content, where the user interacts directly with the content, only managed to generate massive interest after Bandersnatch, a Black Mirror’s interactive episode, was released on 28 December 2018.

Bandersnatch
Image source: meg.onemega.com

As it turned out, fashion brands and e-commerce stores became the first adopters of interactive videos. This is because such videos not only offer an immersive experience but they also are an efficient money-catching tool. By watching them, users can shop while still consuming the content. This allows them to act on their desire to buy a product when the desire is at its highest point.

interactive shopping video
Image source: cdn.trendhunterstatic.com

Besides making online shopping easier and faster, interactive videos are also more enjoyable and captivating than ordinary videos. If you want to create a stunning visual design with a great user experience that will allow you to win over the competition in the coming year, then giving users better control over the content is definitely the right thing to start with.

Expansion of interface animations

Adding motion to button, tabs, menus and other visual elements is not a brand new thing in UI/UX design. We’ve seen it this year and it’ll continue being popular in 2020. However, as animations seem to still be in the process of gaining momentum, we’ll probably see even more animated interfaces on our screens in the next twelve months. Just like 3D design, moving objects help UX designers grab users’ attention as well as make their experience more realistic and engaging.

interface animations
Image source: tubikstudio.com

Yet, it’s important to remember that every animation you implement into the app interface should serve a purpose. In other words, you don’t have to animate everything on a page. If you do so, a user will be distracted by visual noise – which is no doubt not the outcome you’re aiming at.

Instead, you may create a feedback animation that will make app navigation easier. Specifically, it’ll show users that they’re on the right path after an action is taken.

feedback animation
Image credit: tubikstudio.com

Animated progress indicators are also a nice idea for most mobile apps. They help users understand that there aren’t any problems with the application, it just needs more time to perform a certain task.

Animated progress indicator
Image source: Dribbble

If you have doubts about whether you need to add more animated elements to the interface or not, we recommend you to conduct a design audit first.

Typography will still matter a lot

When it comes to conveying messages, companies have a wide array of formats to choose from. But while videos and images are considered the most captivating, text content remains the main and the most effective method of communication in the online world. That’s why typography never loses its relevance and, of course, it will still be in the spotlight in 2020.

What major change may we expect in the year to come? As a rule, a user gets a meaningful and memorable experience only when the design is well-balanced and consistent. Since we’ll probably see more 3D elements and animations in the interfaces, typography will have to reflect these effects too.

typography animated
Image source: andreirobu.com

Of course, this doesn’t mean that San-Serif fonts, which are now widely used in the digital space, will completely disappear during the next year. But UI/UX designers will become more creative with the way text is presented on a page. Chaotic typography with mixed sizes and patterns (e.g. filled and outlined letters), as well as experiments with text directions, will likely be quite common in 2020.

Chaotic typography
Image source: Dribbble (by Oleh Gvozdetskyi)

The obsession with dark themes

Dark Mode became the most noticeable visual change brought by iOS13 in September 2019. The feature provides the option of replacing the bright colors of an interface with black and dark grey, making it more pleasant for eyes in a poorly lit environment. During the month that followed this release, dark modes were also introduced by Instagram, Gmail, and Facebook (partially). So we can make confident predictions about the dark mode ‘fever’ that will likely expand in 2020.

iOS 13 dark mode
Image source: techradar.com

Besides aesthetic value, dark themes also improve the readability of text and are perceived as less harsh if a person uses a device at night. Whether to enable it or not is a matter of personal preference. But if you implement such a mode for your app, your users will for sure appreciate it.

Custom illustrations will fill up the interfaces

In 2020, designers will have to cooperate with digital illustrators more frequently as bespoke interface illustrations are another emerging UI/UX trend. Stock photos that have been quite popular for many years now are no longer acceptable. Stock photos simply don’t offer the level of uniqueness most brands and users seek. At the same time, digital art is much more flexible in terms of styles, shapes, compositions, and characters.

But catchiness isn’t the only reason why illustrations are so powerful. The correct illustrations in combination with other elements on a web page can help you make the right emphasis and draw visitors’ attention to the CTAs. They also make an interface more emotionally appealing and help to create the right tone and mood.

web page illustration
Image source: Dribbble (by Tubik)

Speaking about mobile development, custom illustrations have always been less popular in this sector. However, such a situation is going to change as they’re getting more and more common – not only on the onboarding screens but also at other touchpoints (e.g. error notifications).

mobile interface illustration
Image source: Dribble (by Icons8 team)

The final word

We want to give you a comprehensive review of the trends which will likely define the UX design space of 2020. We made our conclusions based on our professional experience and the latest information about technological advancements. Yet, the digital world is hyperdynamic and a lot may change in a blink of an eye.

Some innovative solutions may appear completely unexpectedly and change the rules of the game across several industries. But don’t worry. We’ll keep track of UX best practices of 2020 and let you know about all important trends.

Want to build your next product with us? Reach out!

The State of UX for 2019

The State of UX for 2019

By | design, interaction design, omnichannel, user experience, user interface, voice | No Comments

Keeping up with the current trends is important for any area, not to mention the UX design which directly influences the way your digital product is positioned and perceived by the users. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at what happened with 2018 UX trends and try to anticipate the emerging tendencies that have potential to become real big things in the coming year.

Read More

Voice Interfaces: New Era Of Human-Computer-Interactions

By | ai, interaction design, user experience, voice | No Comments

Voice interaction is the ability to speak to your devices, have them proceed your request and act upon whatever you’re asking them. Today voice user interfaces are everywhere: we can them in smartphones, TVs, smart homes and a range of other products. The rapid development of voice interaction capabilities in our daily lives makes it clear that this technology will soon become an expected offering as either an alternative or even a full replacement to, traditional graphical user interfaces.

According to Gartner, by 2018, 30 percent of our interactions with technology will happen through conversations with voice-based systems.

Amazon Echo
Apple’s Siri, Amazon Echo and Google Now, which have been available for a few years, prove that this technology is no longer in its infancy.

Voice interaction is the next great leap forward in UX design.

In this post, we’re going to explain why voice interfaces will be the next big thing and what does this trend actually mean for designers of the user experience.

What Are Driving Forces Behind Voice Interaction

Before we dive into the specific implications of voice interaction systems or design aspects for them, it’s important to understand what’s lead to rapid adoption of this new interaction medium:

Technology is Ready

It’s clear that improvements in natural language processing have set the stage for a revolution. In 2016 we saw a significant breakthrough in natural language processing, and we’ve reached a point where advances in computer processing power can make speech recognition and interaction a viable alternative to visual interfaces. Another important thing is a number of devices that support voice interaction – today almost a 1/3 of the global population is carrying powerful computers that can be used for voice interaction in their pocket, and it’s easy to predict that a majority of them are ready to adopt voice interfaces as their input method of choice.

Mobile app and voice input
Image credit: Samsung

Natural Means Of Interaction

People associate voice with communication with other people rather than with technology. This means that voice interaction systems can be a more natural way of interaction for the majority of users.

Voice interaction chart
Image credit: Google Mobile Voice Survey 2014

People Want a Frictionless Experience

To interact with a voice interaction system all users need to do is to simply speak to the devices and be understood. In comparison with graphic user interfaces (GUI) where users have to learn how to interact with a system, voice interaction systems can significantly reduce the learning curve.

Windows 10
Even the most advanced graphical user interface still requires humans to learn a computer’s language.

Opportunities For Business

Adding Personality To Branded Content

Companies can leverage the medium of voice interaction as an extension of their personalities. Gender, tone, accent and pace of speech can be used by experience designers to craft a particular customer experience with their brand. For example, kids may finally get to talk directly to their favourite cartoon characters.
Branding

Make Experience More Personalization

Using voice-based system it’s possible to create a deeper personal connection to the system. Even today if you look at the online reviews for Amazon’s Echo speaker, it’s clear that some people establish a close bond with their device in a way that more resembles a pet than a product.

Samantha from Her
Samantha from Her

Voice Interfaces Aren’t a New Direction, They Just a New Step In UX Design

If you are new to designing voice user interfaces, you may quickly find yourself unsure of how to create great user experiences because voice interaction represents the biggest UX challenge since the birth of the iPhone. They are very different from graphical user interfaces and designers cannot apply the same design guidelines and paradigms. But while designing for voice differs from traditional UX, classic usability principles are still critical to the quality of the user experience.

Understand The Basics Of Human Communication

To design great voice user interfaces, you must handle the expectations users have from their experience with everyday conversations. And for that, we must understand the principles that govern human communication: how people naturally communicate with their voices.

Understand User’s Intent

Voice-based interactions between a user and a machine can lead (potentially) to infinite possibilities of commands from a user. While designers may not be able to predict every possible user command, they need to at least design an infrastructure that is contextually driven. For that, it’s important to start with a use case (a reason for interacting in the first place) and try to anticipate users intent at each point in the conversation (to shape the appropriate response).

User Intent
The processing flow of a comprehensive speech interface. Image credit: API

Provide Users With Information About What They Can Do

While on a graphical user interface, a designer can clearly show users what options they can choose from, it’s impossible to do this on a voice interface. In voice user interfaces, it’s almost impossible to create visual affordances. Consequently, looking at a device that supports voice interaction, users will have no clear indications of what the interface can do or what their options are. Therefore, it’s still possible to provide the user with the options for interaction. For example, if you design a weather app you can make it say: “You can ask for today’s weather or a forecast on this weekend.”

Limit the Amount Of Information

While with graphic user interfaces you can present a lot of different options, with verbal content, you need to keep the information brief so that the user does not become confused or overwhelmed. It’s recommended that you don’t list more than 3 different options for an interaction.

Craft Meaningful Error Messaging

Error handling is an essential component of designing thoughtful voice interactions. The wide variation in potential responses places much more emphasis on the importance of crafting meaningful error messaging that can steer the conversation with the user back on track if something goes wrong.

Use Visual Feedback

It’s recommended to use some form of visual feedback to let the user know that the system is ready and listening. Amazon’s Echo is a good example of this: on hearing a user say ‘Alexa’, the bluish light swirls around the top rim of the device, signalling that Alexa’s ‘all ears.’

User Input and Amazon Echo
Image credit: thewirecutter

Conclusion

Voice is the next big platform – it represents the new pinnacle of intuitive interfaces that make the use of technology more natural for people. Properly designed voice interfaces lead users to accomplish tasks with as little confusion and barriers as possible. And the good news is that UX designers already possess the skills they need to design effectively for voice.