"When you hear the term voice user interface (VUI), what comes to mind? Most likely, memories of an interactive voice response system (IVR) for customer service arise. IVRs are certainly not going away. For many companies, they remain the foremost contact point with customers. But voice user interfaces are more than just IVRs. In fact, VUIs have tremendous potential for enhancing the experience of any mobile phone user. As the use of mobile devices and applications proliferates internationally, understanding how to integrate, or mash up, graphic user interfaces (GUI) and VUIs is becoming critically important.
Among the considerations for designing a VUI is emotion. An article in Communications of the ACM, “Speech Interfaces from an Evolutionary Perspective,” noted that, traditionally, humans use speech with other humans who are in close proximity. Therefore, when a person speaks to or listens to a voice user interface, the person assumes a certain amount of emotional involvement with the interface. Ignoring this assumption can mean disaster for a VUI. To help bring attention to the issue of emotion in VUI design, this article describes some important factors in VUI design and provides some examples of voice user interfaces.
Challenge: Overcoming Negative Perceptions of the VUI
VUI designers have a special challenge to overcome—thanks to the common, and often poorly designed, customer service IVR. Many people have had bad experiences with IVRs, such as the following:
* feeling forced to use an IVR for an issue a live person should more appropriately handle
* having a speech-recognition IVR—that is supposed to understand users’ speech—not be able to understood or hear what they were saying
* getting lost in a menu system
* becoming caught in an endless loop
* having to listen to marketing messages while trying to use an IVR
* experiencing problems with the voice of the IVR system, such as its speaking too fast or having an inappropriate tone" (Continued via UXmatters, Darnell Clayton) [Usability Resources]