Designed out loud

Can speaking my design out loud actually solve a lot of UX problems early in a design?
April 10, 2017

Something I have been pondering recently is language, voice and the communication in my designs.

Inspired by a blog post I read recently about the ‘Rise of the UX writer’, I delved into the spoken word in experience design and inevitably ended in research pieces on VUIs.

Whilst these articles are all an informative and interesting read, I can’t help but wonder if we’re missing an important link in our designs across platforms.

Ultimately, our designs should be future proof, or at least with one eye on the future. So, why shouldn’t voice be part of our design no matter what device we’re interacting with?

I don’t know what hole this will lead me down, but here’s a summary of thoughts so far:

When thinking about designing an interface with a machine we should account for interacting with the interface through voice only no matter what the final device is. Can we speak the user journey first, like we are communicating with a real life service provider?

For example, a shopkeeper greets you as you enter the shop, you exchange their product for currency, you exchange pleasantries as you leave. Is my design as simple and straightforward as this? Combined with the merchandising of the shop (understanding the layout and where the products are in relation to the buyer) all these touch points help the buyer have an informed idea of the process they are in or entering.

But, to go back to my original thought: if I speak my design of an app or a product out aloud, will it make sense to me or a listener?

This then leads to thinking that voice shouldn’t be the only thing we’re mindful of across our designs. Voice forms part of a whole range of human interface tools: what we observe, hear and what our state of mind is in at the point of interaction could also be thought of (keenly observed in the BBC prototyping for voice blog post).

IDEO have recently published an article about what we can learn from theatre to bring our designs to life. While it all sounds very am-dram (of which, I do not sniff at), there’s sound advice in there on how to communicate ideas in a presentation. If we add this to our toolbox for the end to end design of applications we could get some interesting insights if we build it in early.