Memorable Voices I

Photo by  Kyle Johnston  on  Unsplash

Photo by Kyle Johnston on Unsplash


As we become increasingly independent of the need to be attached to our physical devices, we have developed a greater requirement to have our wants/needs served through other avenues. We exist in a world that constantly wants us to be “free” to do more by taking away the hassle and friction of simple tasks.

One of the ways in which this has been most prominently done is through the introduction of voice command interfaces. We are now able to issue tasks, have work done and more through simple basic conversations with our devices.

This has opened up a whole world of possibilities and has allowed us as users to become increasingly empowered. For designers, however, this has proposed a new set of challenges, key of which is how to create immersive, memorable and human experiences that you cannot see or feel.

If we reflect on each time we have had a conversation with an automated personal assistant, there is very little that sticks out about your journey, other than the fact that you knew you got the answer you wanted or that the task you wanted to have completed was actually completed. There is little attachment to the journey and for this reason it remains forgettable.

In order for us to continue to value these experiences and therefore make better use of them, it would be ideal to begin to introduce additional complexities into these interactions so that the journey begins to feel memorable. Attaching a memory to an experience of a product is key in ensuring users continue to see a value in it and therefore continue to feel a desire to engage with the product. Once they value a product in this way, they are more likely to be open to what else the product could do in the future.

The question now becomes how do we make these experiences memorable?

Surprise Me

Every conversation is like a trip with a start point, the journey and the end. With audio interfaces, we predictably have mapped out all of these parts, using conversation trees that are meant to lead us to the most appropriate and accurate end state. These guided conversations allow you to reach your outcome more succinctly and are therefore more favored.

What these interactions miss however is that there is no memory formed after they are completed. It would be useful if you could recall a conversation with Siri the same way in which you recall your conversation with your favorite barista. You still want Siri to prepare your coffee but you want it in a way that it becomes part of your catalogue of memories of Siri.

Adding dynamics in your interaction is one of the ways in which we can make these events more memorable. These dynamics add rare “wow” moments that are retained in the memory of the user. These dynamics can be introduced within the conversation trees in such a way that the same path is still retained but also further enhanced.

As an example we can look at an interaction with Google Assistant. Through machine learning Google is able to remember frequently visited places and some of the experiences had there. Why then no leverage this in our interaction with Google Assistant so that they remember a place that is frequently visited by you and make a remark about it when you try and setup directions to it?

“ Ok Google, take me to Sam’s Club”

“ Sure, you must love this place!”

Microinteractions like this are not that different from the mini wow moments we have with more visual UI’s (think the heart burst interaction on Twitter). They exist to wow us and draw our attention into the experience even more. We also remember these moments later especially when they are still novel.

In this way we can begin to add little keys into our voice experiences that will draw in the user some more and get them engaged in the product in a way that makes it all the more

Further Reading

Praise Is Fleeting, but Brickbats We Recall 

Social and Cognitive Approaches to Interpersonal Communication

Memorable Voices II

Delivering Design