Bringing Alexa to meet the parents part 2

Introducing Alexa

alexxa imageI wanted to see what Alexa was like and I thought it could be useful for my parents, so I bought one for their home.

This was an experiment not only in terms of understanding what Alexa can do but also in understanding whether or not she would be a useful addition to my parents home.  Although my father is fairly tech-savy, neither he nor my mum has a smartphone and the iPad from two Christmases  ago is still sat behind the TV out of battery.

I had an idea of what they could use Alexa for (see previous article) but I was unsure if and how they might engage with her.  This article is about how I got on.  Continue reading

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Introducing Alexa at home Part 1

word "language"

I am not a linguist but as part of my university degree I studied foreign languages and I have always found the construction of languages interesting.  I was particularly  interested in the cultural aspects of language and what this can tell us about a person or a place.  Communication is much more than just words and is very much about context and peoples experience.

Now being a UX’er, I’m interested in understanding  how we go about trying to create  exchanges between humans and machines using natural language.  Voice as a medium can be very compelling but as our language is such as complex business where elements such as emotion plays such a big part , how successful can we really be in recreating meaningful experiences with machines?   Continue reading

Technology is changing who you are.

Technology is changing our behaviour. 

stick figureThe first generation of ‘digital natives’, those who have never known anything else but the internet and apps are growing up.  Their experience of the the world has been through a digital lens, the internet is part of who they are.  And it’s not just that generation, as technology is becoming ever more pervasive and integrated into our daily lives it is changing all of us who are who are in constant contact with it.

Neuroplasticity tells us, that learned repeated behaviour leads to reprogramming of neural connections.   Our constant immersion in technology is not only changing the structure of our brains also our corresponding behaviour.   And not all of those changes are for the good.  What aspects of our behaviour is technology impacting? Continue reading

Interaction Design considerations for creating conversations

Interaction design 

talking headsThe art of interaction design is about understanding human behaviour and how that relates to how we humans engage with technology.  It is about creating interfaces and experiences that are based on a sound understanding of technology and human behaviour and applying that knowledge to create intuitive, easy to use designs.

And interaction design principles; that is design standards and rules of thumb based on human psychology, are useful guides for us UX’ers when we are creating new experiences.  For example, knowing more about cognitive processes such as visual perception e.g. how we experience and see the world around us in patterns (Gestalt principles), helps us design interface elements such as menus, that speak to that human trait.   Interaction design principles and design standards are useful in supporting us to building interfaces that are easier for people to recognise and engage with.    However, what happens to our standards and guidelines when our ‘interactions’ turn into conversations?  Continue reading

Designing conversational UIs using Storytelling

storeybook I’ve been to a couple of great workshops on designing conversational UIs lately, more recently with Ben Sauer of Clearleft and Steph Hay of Capital One who took us through their thoughts on how to design for conversations.   Whether it be a voice app or a bot that we are designing for, this new medium of communication with our customers is an exciting area for us UX’ers to venture into.

As we know, in this new medium, the experience is stripped back to the bare bones of the experience: the conversation between and your user.  Which is liberating but also a bit daunting at the same time.  So how do we approach designing for this brave new world?   It seems to me, that thinking about these new experiences in terms of a story may help us create something that our users can relate to and easily engage with.   Continue reading

How to measure emotion in design

heart window(longish read – 15 mins)

Emotion in design matters.  A positive emotional experience with a product can be what sets that product apart from its competition.  Attachment to a product or brand is often the reason we chose one product over another, as the army of IPhone fans will attest to.

And whether we are trying to make emotions a big part of the experience we are creating,  like in Gaming for example or whether we just want our customers to feel safe and confident when doing mundane tasks like emailing, we still want our customers to feel something when they engage with that product.   Is it possible to measure that feeling? And what techniques in UX are available to do so?  Continue reading

Voice: one of the oldest and newest forms of communication.

VoiceUsing our voices to communicate with each other is one of the oldest and most most powerful forms of connection.  While using voice to communicate with machines is not something new, it’s only in recent years that  it has become common place to control a machine by talking to it.  We now regularly use voice to undertake tasks such as perform searches via OK Google, control apps via Alexa or send texts via Siri.

While voice control will not be able to take over every interaction we have with machines,  it does seem its popularity is set to continue as we see companies scramble to capitalise on this new (ish) medium.   And as voice user interfaces (VUIs) replace some of our more typical screen based interfaces,  it raises some interesting considerations for us UX’ers when thinking about designing these new experiences.

Continue reading

7 (updated) principles for interaction design

picture of ideaAlthough first published almost 20 years ago  Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design are still incredibly useful and relevant in the field of interaction design.  For example, in his principles, he talks about “Consistency and Standards” which is of course, still a core principle of good design and comes up regularly when we are discussing the creation of design guidelines or pattern libraries.

Coming up to almost 10 years working in usability and user experience myself has made me reflect on what I have learned during that time.  And specifically, when thinking about good practice in design, what principles I keep coming back to. Building on Nielsen’s (and others) principles my seven key (updated) principles for interaction are.  Continue reading

Designing for Emotion in User Experience

smiley faceTo be human is to be emotional.  Emotions are an important part of our genetic makeup. They allow us to form social bonds and help us engage with and navigate the world around us.  Engaging with technology is a big part of that world.

As UX’ers we look to remove friction and make products and services easy to use.  But usability alone will not make our customers value or continue to use our products. In order to engage with our users at a deeper level, we need to look to design experiences that connect with them on a more emotional level.   We need to design emotional experiences.  Continue reading