Designing for audible interfaces

June 4, 2008

Designing for audible interfaces

  1. Organize and name functions according to user mental models. This
    is important in any design, but doubly important when functions
    are described only verbally, and only in context of the current
    function. Be sure to examine context scenarios to determine what
    the most important functions are, and make them the most easily
    reachable. This means listing the most common options first.
  2. Always signpost the currently available functions. The system
    should, after every user action, restate the current available
    activities and how to invoke them.
  3. Always provide a way to get back one step and to the top level.
    The interface should, after every action, tell the user how to go
    back one step in the function structure (usually up one node in
    the tree) and how to get to the top level of the function tree.
  4. Always provide a means to speak with a human. If appropriate, the
    interface should give the user instructions on how to switch to a
    human assistant after every action, especially if the user seems
    to be having trouble.
  5. Give the user enough time to respond. Systems usually require
    verbal or telephone keypad entry of information. Testing should
    be done to determine an appropriate length of time to wait; keep
    in mind that phone keypads can be awkward and very slow for
    entering textual information.

From: Cooper, A., Reimann, R., Cronin, D.: About Face 3 – The Essentials of Interaction Design, Wiley, Indianapolis: 2007, page 199

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