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Design Tools for Voice User Interfaces

Everyday we see new products emerge in the market that have a voice component. From Google Home, the Amazon Echo Dot etc, voice UX is set to be the next big thing. Thus a voice UX designer needs the best tools to be able to design and prototype VUI experiences. 

Design tools voice interface

Voice user interfaces are complex systems that require in-depth design, prototyping and iteration.

In this guide we look at the tools available in the market and how they can aid designers while creating a voice user interface design. But first let us understand what a voice user interface is in depth.

What is a Voice User Interface?

voice interface

A voice user interface or VUI is an invisible interface that requires a voice command in order to interact with the system. Voice UX helps designers understand how users interact  with VUI, so that they can create the most optimised experience for users. This helps make the mobile app interface design more convenient and easy to use for their audience. 

Let us understand the different components of a voice command.

A voice command is made up of three elements. These are;

Intent & Objective

This is the reason why the user is using a voice application. There can be two different kinds of requests. They can be classified as low utility or high utility requests. In low utility requests, the tasks are more vague such as asking for more information is more vague. High utility requests in comparison are more specific such as asking about the weather outside, or requesting the voice application to play pop music on Spotify.

Phrasing or Utterance

Phrasing or Utterance refers to the way a user places their request. There could be several different variations that could have the same desired outcome or result. The VUI needs to be able to understand all the different possible variations of the voice command and provide the user with the desired response or outcome.

Intent & Objective

Optional Variables

Optional or required variables are the extra information the VUI needs in order to complete the request. For example, if a user asks the VUI to book flight tickets, the VUI needs to know the time, destination etc. These are the variable a voice assistant needs to know in order to make the reservation.

Let us now look at the different tools available in the market for designers who create VUI applications and experiences. These tools aim to support designers and developers in building new voice-enabled products. These are further categorised as design, development and prototyping rules.

Design Tools

Designing Tools
  1. Notepad/Google Docs

For the first step in the design process – that is ideation, simple text editors are a great place to start. These can be anything from a simple notepad or a document on Google Docs. Anything that helps you put your thoughts together work just fine, both online and offline editors. 

2. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping tools are perfect for creating flowcharts, which helps designers to structure the information and build a conversation flow. One such tool for mind mapping is diagrams.net, which is an open source, online, desktop and container deployable diagramming software that is free to use. 

3. Adobe XD

Adobe XD is an interface design tool that can also be used for voice prototyping. It is a comprehensive vector based user experience design tool for web apps and mobile apps that can help you create an interactive VUI design. You can opt for a free plan as a starting tier.

4. Spreadsheets

Spreadsheet tools are a great help for designers who want to design any type of voice user interface. They can be used in different ways, to assist when planning possible user utterances variations, crafting different possible intents and contexts of interactions. A popular spreadsheet tool is Airtable, which is free to use, but Excel and Google Spreadsheets are also a great option.

Development Tools

  1. Voiceflow

Voiceflow is a collaborative tool that allows designers to design, prototype and build for Voice User Interfaces like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

The starting tier of Voiceflow is free and lets you create upto 2 projects and allows a total of 1000 interactions per month. For more features, designers can upgrade to the paid version. 

2. Dialogflow

Dialogflow is a platform owned by by Google that can be used by designers to design conversational user interface for mobile apps, web applications, devices and bots. Google Dialogflow offers a trial edition that is free but comes with limited features.

3. Speechly

Speechly is a tool that can be specifically designed to build voice user interfaces. Designers can use the Speechly Dashboard for quickly creating a prototype of their configuration and then integrate the configuration to the app for a full voice experience. 

Prototyping Tools

Prototyping tools
  1. Botsociety

Botsociety is a prototyping tool that is available for free with certain limitations. It allows designers and marketers to preview and prototype conversational interfaces for Facebook Messenger, Slack, Google Home and more. 

2. Landbot

Landbot is a user friendly no-code solution for the creation of conversational apps. Designers can try out Landbot for free with their Sandbox plan.

3. Botmock

This tool allows designers create conversation flows and interactive prototypes with the help of a simple drag and drop editor and then share and test those prototypes. The feedback can be collected in one centralised location. Botmock offers a 15 day free trial for a standard plan.

4. Fabble

This is a no-code tool that helps designers design and prototype Alexa Skills, Google Assistant Actions, chatbots, IVRS and other VUI/CUI together without any coding. It is available for free but has a limitation on the project size.

Conclusion

Different designers have different needs when it comes to design tools for Voice UI design. Depending on your requirements, you can choose the tool that best suits them. These tools can help you design and craft incredible voice interface experiences.

Sidharth Kumar