VUI or Voice User Interface is known as one of the UI design trends. It may seem like the voice user interface is the same as voice assistants like Alexa or Siri. Although voice assistants are part of the voice user interface, VUI is something beyond these.

VUI is one of the most complex elements in user experience. In this article, we will learn more about VUI or Voice User Interface, its features, and the reason for its popularity.

What is VUI (Voice User Interface)?

A Voice User Interface or VUI is a tool that allows users to interact with devices or systems by speaking and sending commands to them in voice form. This user interface uses speech recognition technology to recognize the user’s speech and respond to his requests and commands.

Originally, VUI technology was known as Interactive Voice Response or IVR, which was developed in the 80s and 90s. This technology was used as a communication tool in the customer service industry, identifying common customer questions and directing them to recorded responses or specific menus.

But today, known as the “second age” of VUI technology, the technology is more advanced and smarter by integrating speech recognition with natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence. Following these developments, the applications of the voice user interface have also expanded, including online shopping services, web searches, control of smart home devices, and access to up-to-date and useful information such as real-time weather and traffic conditions.

Why has VUI become a trend?

One of the main reasons for the popularity of VUI is its widespread use in smart devices and personal assistants. For example, popular voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri allow the user to give various commands to the device with a simple word or sentence. These assistants are ready to answer users’ questions, search for the information they need, record their notes, and even play their favorite music.

User convenience has always been one of the most important factors in technology, and VUI has made it more appealing to users by making it easier to interact with devices.

According to statistics, in 2022, approximately 50% of the US population will use voice search features daily.

16% of these users used voice search to find places near a geographic location (such as “restaurants near me” or “stores near me”). Websites that are optimized for voice search and also have a Voice User Interface (VUI) will rank higher on the Google search results page.

The VUI market is projected to reach a value of approximately $50 billion by 2029. As a result, websites that incorporate VUI design into their website design strategy will benefit from this growing industry.

VUI features

1. Speed

Saying a sentence is faster than writing it. When you voice a command or question, the process is much faster without having to move your fingers over a keyboard or device.

2. Ease of use

With VUI, users don’t need to search through menus and settings; Instead, they can get what they need by just saying their commands out loud. Also, the VUI is usually configured with a variety of different names and synonyms, which allows users to use it without having to fully familiarize themselves with the features of the digital product.

3. Accessible design

Accessible design is a design approach that aims to create products and services that are accessible to all people, including people with disabilities or limitations. The use of Voice User Interfaces (VUI) makes it possible for visually impaired people to easily interact with devices and applications.

Also, in some special situations, for example, while driving, VUI comes to the aid of users.

Accessible design not only helps improve people’s user experience but is also considered a serious and important competitive advantage for businesses because products and services that are accessible to all people are more attractive to customers.

4. Create a sense of empathy

Using Voice User Interface (VUI) creates a closer interaction with the user. When the user talks to the device, it feels similar to a human interaction, which improves the user experience.

Principles of VUI design

A common mistake UI designers make is to think that a Voice User Interface (VUI) is the same as a Graphical User Interface (GUI) with the “sound” element added to it.

Designing an audio user interface does not mean designing an audio version of a graphical user interface; Rather, it is a specialty that has its principles and techniques.

Considering the “time” factor in design

In the GUI, users can easily skip different parts of the page and focus on the parts of the page that are most interesting to them. But in VUI, information is time-dependent and users are forced to listen to content in sequence and cannot skip parts they don’t want to hear.

As a result, certain principles must be followed in designing VUI for websites, web applications, or mobile applications. For example, long instructions that force the user to listen for a long time should be avoided. Instead, short instructions should be used. Also, it should be possible for the user to express his reaction to the VUI’s speech or to have pauses to think and respond if necessary.

Using Earcons

Earcons work like graphical icons in a graphical user interface (GUI), but instead of images, they use sound to convey information.

Using Earcons assures users that the VUI is performing a specific action and keeps them informed of the activities taking place on the website.

For example, a clicking sound can indicate that the voice bot is performing a specific task.

Conversational design

VUI’s success is based on conversational design. In designing the audio user interface, the designer must make sure that the reactions and responses of the system to the user create a good and natural conversational experience for the users.

To achieve this goal, special attention should be paid to the basic principles of dialog-oriented design. These principles are:

  • Designing for human language: It means using terms and expressions that are natural and familiar to users. The content and messages that are sent should look natural and create an intimate and friendly conversation with users.
  • Ease of use: in the sense that users should be able to easily interact with the system without the need for long and complex training.
  • Attention to user feedback: In the design of these systems, user comments and feedback are very important and can be effective in improving the user experience.

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