The UX Needs of Voice Search and Commands

Is Voice Search Really That Important?

Everyone talks about how important voice search is going to be by 2020 and 2022. However, let’s not forget how important it already is.

  • Currently, 20% of all mobile searches are done through voice.
  • 13% of households in the U.S. currently own a smart speaker.
  • There are an estimated billion voice searches conducted each month.
  • 65% of Amazon Echo and Google Home owners wouldn’t go back.

While many people talk down about voice search, others like business guru Gary Vaynerchuck constantly tout the importance of voice. The logic is pretty clear. People are getting busier. Voice search and voice commands allow them to get more done while maintaining a busy life.

However, voice isn’t perfect yet. Users complain about the need to still use screens to select options. And the technology isn’t yet good enough to have a meaningful dialogue with. We are still far from authentic natural conversation.

Which brings us to the need for voice search UX.

Voice Search Needs User Experience

UX design and strategy is about improving the experience users have with products and services, especially digital platforms. All things related to voice, by definition, are included in this category. Here are some things companies need to take into consideration with voice search user experience.

Solve the voice + text issue

Users often complain that they can’t conduct complete actions using voice alone. When using Siri and Google Assistant, among others, you have to click the screen in order to complete the search that you started with voice. The process is not 100% voice.

On the other hand, voice only devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo are limited by the lack of screen. This limitation makes many commands, such as responding to text messages or email, complicated. Voice identification still isn’t perfect and most people prefer to review their messages before sending them.

Awkward voice conversation

We’ve all played around with Siri. How awkward is it? Between the misunderstandings and the rigid responses, often we decide that it just isn’t worth it. The natural language of voice is getting better and better every day. However, we are still far from a true AI that thinks, reasons, and makes decisions. That means that UX designers will have to put a lot of effort into teaching the machine to understand what people say and respond as naturally as possible.

Machines don't truly understand humans

Along with the drawbacks of quasi-AI, we hit a wall when it comes to machine intuition. But that is why we have UX designers whose job it is to understand users. User flow maps become more important than ever when working with voice search and voice commands. UX designers use user flow maps to map navigation from point A to point B and teach the voice platform what to expect and how to fulfill user expectations adequately.

 Users don’t trust voice

Every time a voice search gives you the wrong result, you lose trust in the platform. Every time voice sends the wrong text message, you are less likely to use the system again. You need UX designers to put the program through the paces before launching. This means that voice search and commands need to be extensively tested with users before it goes live. Constant optimization is also necessary to work out kinks that come up after go live.

 Voice User Interfaces 

Voice user interfaces (VUIs) are an evolution of our current digital UI. It isn’t new territory. Rather, it is an extension of the principles UX designers have always been using and adapting. It is very necessary for voice platforms to be designed, tested, and optimized by UX strategists in order for this emerging tech to reach the level of success everyone predicts for the next five years.

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