Designing for voice report

by Alex Baxevanis on 30 May 2018

We've just published our latest report, a Guide to Designing for Voice (PDF 850kb), now available for free download. Be sure to get your copy!

Why it's worth bringing voice to your brand

To guide the recommendations in our report, we ran UK-wide research on voice usage which showed us that:

  1. People are engaging with voice interactions
    Even we were surprised at the level of engagement - only a few of the people we surveyed weren't aware of voice assistants like Alexa or Apple Siri. Out of those aware 75% are actively using at least one voice assistant, often multiple times a day.
  2. Voice assistants are taking over the home
    Most people said they're engaged with voice interactions in the comfort of their own home. Voice assistants are often found in living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms and many people have more than one, opening the door to many interesting use cases.
  3. People are open to new use cases for voice interactions
    Obvious & simple use cases such as controlling music playback or checking the weather have already achieved a lot of traction. Whilst mindful of privacy & security concerns, people are still open to future use cases around more complex domains, including learning, health and finance.

To succeed, design the product around real user needs and test and iterate with them throughout

Getting started with voice

To succeed in this exciting space, it's important to go back to user-centred principles. People will be interacting with your brand for a reason - they'll have a goal they need to achieve (booking or buying something, entertaining themselves, finding information etc.).

Voice will likely be just one of a number of ways in which users can complete their goal - competing with using your website or app, making a call or visiting you in person. They'll only choose voice if it's either easier for them than other channels or allows them to do something they couldn't do before.

Informed by our work with clients, and further supported by our research, our Guide to Designing for Voice report (PDF 850kb) provides:

  1. Guidelines to help you scope out which use cases might be suitable for voice
  2. A set of voice design principles

These will help guide the design of voice interfaces but, as always, the way to succeed is to design the product around real user needs and test and iterate with them throughout. If a voice app doesn't help users achieve a goal, solve a problem, or provide a moment of delight, it may quickly become an unused gimmick.

Putting voice to good use

Regardless of the importance to your business, not all use cases will be equally suited to voice. Use the following checklist to help you decide:

  1. Is it faster than doing on another channel?
    (For example, on a phone or laptop, considering also the time it takes to unlock, find app, login)
  2. Does it cut out multiple steps?
    (Can people say in a sentence what would take multiple steps to go through in an app or website?)
  3. Can you make it fun and engaging?
    (Would injecting some of personality through voice make interacting with your brand better?)
  4. Is it suitable for multi-tasking?
    (Does it need the user's full attention? What would happen if they got distracted?)
  5. Is it a "push" or "pull" interaction?
    (Is it something that people initiate? Voice assistants aren't (yet) optimised for delivering notifications)
  6. Is it appropriate for a shared home device?
    (Will people worry about privacy, saying something out aloud or being recorded?)
  7. Can people discover and remember it?
    (Does your use case have a name that's memorable and easy to say out aloud?)
  8. Is it frequent enough?
    (Will people want to access it often enough to warrant installing a voice app? Or is it mainly one-off?)
  9. Is your data structured?
    (Is the data needed for this use case accessible through a database or API? Or is it just unstructured text?)

Download our Guide to Designing for Voice report (PDF 850kb) for all the detail behind these guidelines and lots more!


We work with lots of brands co-creating their voice strategy and/or designing the voice UI - let us know if we can help you get going with voice.

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