Voice & Chat as Experience Design
Conversational design in a nutshell
Heralded as “the new touch”, Conversational Design is both pushing boundaries and becoming the new normal at the same time. It provides unparalleled accessibility to users who have difficulty reading, touching, typing, or who exist on the other side of a language barrier. It’s also an integral part of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technological automation, helping users to achieve their goals through natural language, as fast as possible. Designing for Voice and Chat, in its simplest form, involves mapping and building purposeful content for every possible point of interaction that a user will have with a conversational product. The term conversational design is one of many terms used to name this relatively new concept. It’s also called Voice Design, VUI (Voice User Interface) Design, and VX (Voice Experience) Design.
Experience design is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the holistic experience that a user has when interacting with your brand. It’s all about designing with the user’s experience in mind. When you create “valuable and valued experience across touchpoints and over time” (Capgemini), you not only create better experiences, you create happier users.
Conversation Design is Experiential
When Apple first introduced its streamlined version of a touch interface, they weren’t creating any new technology, they were optimising how a new technology could be used (UX Design). In the same way, the technology itself behind conversational design isn’t what’s exciting, what’s exciting is the way in which it is being used to optimise the overall user experience.
Conversation in this sense exists in a totally unique space, giving the user unprecedented access to a brand’s personality and product offering in the same instant. These voice and chat experiences are the newest, and arguably the fullest, way for brands to have tact, express opinions, and present their own perspectives. This creates an experience where the user is able to connect to a brand, and the brand is able to achieve clarity in its identity.
Conversational design needs both clinical precision and a human touch to result in a product that helps users and doesn’t hinder them. For the designer, the journey aligns closely with traditional UX (User Experience) design processes, like user research, prototyping, user flow (user journey map) design, usability testing, and crucially, iterative design.
It’s About Making Information Accessible, and Experiences Easier
Thanks to the internet, the information available to the individual at any given second boggles the mind. It’s the job of a good experience designer to help understand, filter, and provide users with the information they want when they want it. First, it was designing easy to navigate wireframes and IAs for web.
Then, it was engineering a journey that ensured the least possible taps, or the right taps, for the user between the home screen and the desired data.
Now information can be presented to a user naturally, aurally, and without a screen altogether. The only barrier to that information being delivered is what the user says (or types). It’s the job of good conversational design to think about the user’s entire experience and deliver just that.