Conversational interfaces have been with us for a long time. Years ago, we had an IRC bot at work that could answer a handful of useful, process-related questions–as well as hurl insults at coworkers on demand. Now, several factors like the ever increasing use of text based communication, better voice recognition and ubiquitous data access are converging to make these conversational interfaces more common.
A couple months back, I experimented with Amazon’s Alexa skills kit, it was a reminder of how many things we take for granted when designing graphical user interfaces. These two articles by Matty Mariansky talk about some of the pitfalls and offer a good introduction to creating a conversational UI. Both are worth a read if you’re interested in this sort of user interface design.
Also, if you’re interested in things voice driven, Voice Interaction UX: Brave New World…Same Old Story goes into some detail about the difficulty of creating voice interfaces.
Enterprise UX and The Olive Garden draws an interesting comparison between fast casual restaurant chains and enterprise solutions. Dylan’s conclusion is correct, improving the user experience in these enterprise systems requires much more than bringing the interface into the current century.
For real improvement, a shared understanding of user needs is a necessity.
Stephen Hay writes about how messy reality can be:
Although we can (and do) learn a lot from posts on Medium about month-long experiments in link underlining, many of us have pressing deadlines. Processes can be messy because they involve other people and limited resources, tight budgets, difficult stakeholders and ridiculous time constraints.
We received an Amazon Echo as a gift. It’s pretty cool. For the most part, it tells us the weather, and plays music–so far anyway.
I was happy to learn that there is a way to add additional functionality with Skills. I spent some time hacking around with the Alexa Skills Kit but have nothing worth sharing yet.
For those looking to use the Echo as an interface, Lindo St. Angel has a comprehensive writeup on their reference project, which is a voice controlled alarm panel. There’s a lot of good information and sample code in that repository.
usability.gov has a nice one pager on recruiting the right participants for usability testing. By the way, usability.gov as lot of general UX knowledge articles. It’s worth a peek if you haven’t looked at it yet.