conversation design

The difference between chatbot and voice search refinements

The difference between chatbot and voice search refinements 876 657 VUX World

What’s the difference between how people use chatbots and search bars vs voice user interfaces and what does that mean for how you design interactions for each?

One of the big differences between designing for a voice user interface versus a chat user interface and one of the big kind of striking differences between how people use chat and text based interfaces including search boxes compared to voice is all to do with search refinements.

If your search on a retailer website, if you use natural language search on a retailer website and you search for something like “I’m looking for men’s summertime clothes” or “I’m looking for something to wear this summer.” “I’m looking for something to wear on my holiday” or any kind of natural language search like that.

If you don’t find anything off the back of doing that search then your search refinement will end up shortening your search phrase and you’ll make it more keyword-based: “men’s summer clothes”. You will refine it down to something shorter because we’ve been trained over decades about how to use search engines and how search engines work.

If I have an actual conversation, if I’m in a shop talking to a sales assistant and I say “I’m looking for some clothes” and they say “what do you mean?”, what I’m likely to do in that situation is refine my search, refine my phraseology.

But if I’m in person having a conversation, it’s likely to be a hell of a lot longer. And so instead of me just saying “men’s summer clothes”. I’m likely to say something like: “Well I’m going on holiday in a couple of weeks time, you know, it’s supposed to be really hot weather. I’m looking for some shorts and t-shirts that kind of stuff.”

So the utterance there is incredibly long because I’m adding a whole load more context to the discussion. I’m saying that we’re going on holiday. There’s some context. I’m saying it’s going to be hot weather. That’s inferred that I’m looking for hot summertime clothing. I give examples by saying shorts and t-shirts and I don’t need to say ‘mens’ because it’s implied by the subtext of the conversation given the person who’s actually having the conversation.

And so not only is there are additional information underneath the utterance but there’s also a hell of a lot more information in the utterance.

We’ve been trained over the years, lifetimes, of having conversations that if someone doesn’t understand you, you then elaborate so that you can add more context, more information, to help them understand.

In the voice context, if you’re using a shopping application or a shopping voice user interface and it asks you a question like “Do you want to know more about the red t-shirts or the blue t-shirts?”

With voice, you might say “Both”. Right, the utterance starts out being narrow and short, but if the system doesn’t understand you and it says, “I’m sorry. I didn’t understand that. Do you want red or blue?” You over-elaborate again because you’ve been trained in conversation to add more information so that the other person can understand you.

And so instead of saying “both” again, you’ll say “I need both the red and the blue”, “I want to know more about both the red and the blue” and your utterance becomes longer.

And so that’s one of the real things to pay attention to when you’re designing voice user interfaces is:

1) be clear about the way that you phrase the question and anticipate those kind of nuanced responses
2) be prepared, when you do have to repair a conversation, that sometimes the utterances that you’ll get in response might be a little bit longer and contain a little bit more information.

Of course, it does work the other way around. Sometimes people will start with a long search phrase, then realise the system’s not quite functioning properly. It doesn’t understand them. And therefore they’ll refine something to be a little bit shorter, but it’s not always the case and sometimes it is the inverse.

Conversational ear worms

Conversational ear worms 1800 1200 VUX World

What is the conversational equivalent of an ear worm?

An ear worm is a song that you just cannot get out of your head. It doesn’t matter how hard you try it just sticks in there.

If any of you have got kids then you’ll know exactly what it’s like to wake up at five o’clock in the morning, busting for the loo and you just cannot get that Peppa Pig song out of your head!

Musicians and music writers all over the world strive to create ear worms because if you can create an ear worm, then that’s job done!

My latest ear worm, I don’t see any reason why you should be immune to this is, Thomas the Tank Engine.

So I was thinking about that and I was thinking what’s the conversational equivalent of an ear worm?

We’ve all had conversations that we remember, some of us have had conversations that might have even been life-changing.

Does the same logic tie into conversations that we have with our voice assistants?

I remember the first time I asked Google Assistant for a football score and it played the sound of crowd cheering in the background. I still remember that today. It’s one of the best interactions I’ve had on Google Assistant.

And so we have the tools to create memorable experiences through a combination of conversation design and sound design and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a boring old insurance company or whether you’re a cutting-edge media outfit.

We all have access to the same tools and we all have the potential to create memorable and meaningful conversations.

So what’s the most memorable conversation you’ve had with your voice assistant, or the most memorable conversation you’ve had at all, and why?

Think conversation design is complex? You aint seen nothing yet

Think conversation design is complex? You aint seen nothing yet 1800 1200 VUX World

If you think conversation design is complex, you ain’t seen nothing yet. read more

Multi modal design with Google’s Daniel Padgett

Multi modal design with Google’s Daniel Padgett 1800 1200 VUX World

Google’s Head of Conversation Design, Daniel Padgett, shares how his team approach multi modal design across all Google Assistant-enabled devices.
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SMS conversation design with Hillary and Matthew Black

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Hillary and Matthew Black join us to share how to design and implement automated conversational AI with SMS messaging, and why you should. read more

Ethical conversation design with Microsoft’s Deborah Harrison

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What is ethical conversation design? Why is it important? And what can we do to design conversations more responsibly? Join Deborah Harrison, Cortana’s first writer, to find out. read more

Conversation design and grounding strategies with Jon Bloom

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Jon Bloom, Senior Conversation Designer at Google, joins us to share what a conversation designer does at Google, as well as some conversation design techniques used at Google, such as ‘grounding strategies’. read more

The voice design sprint with Maaike Coppens

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Maaike Coppens returns to share how you can go from zero to hero in one voice design sprint. From nothing at the beginning to a a validated use case and prototype at the end, with fun in the middle.  read more

Dialogue design and 2018 review with Rebecca Evanhoe

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Merry Christmas VUX World fans, today we’re diving deep into dialogue design and discussing some of the nuances and details you need to think about to craft compelling and frictionless dialogue in your voice experiences, with Rebecca Evanhoe. read more

Conversation design with PullString’s Oren Jacob

Conversation design with PullString’s Oren Jacob 1800 1200 VUX World

This week, we speak to conversation design master, Oren Jacob, about what it takes to create successful conversations with technology.

There are so many complexities in human conversation. When creating an Alexa Skill or Google Assistant Action, most designers try to mimic human conversation. Google itself has taken steps in this direction with the fabricated ‘mm hmm’ moments with Google Duplex.

But does all of this have an actual impact on the user experience? Does it make it better or worse? How natural is natural enough and does it matter?

What other factors contribute to conversation design that works?

PullString CEO and co-founder, Oren Jacob answers all in this week’s episode.

In this episode on conversation design

We get deep into conversation design this week and discuss things like:

  • How natural should conversations with voice assistants be?
  • Why you shouldn’t just try to mimic human conversation
  • The power of voice and what tools designers need to create compelling personas
  • Whether you should you use the built in text-to-speech (TTS) synthetic voice or record your own dialogue
  • How and why writing dialogue is entirely different from writing to be read
  • The similarities and differences between making a film and creating a conversational experience on a voice first device
  • The limitations and opportunities for improved audio capability and sound design
  • The importance of having an equal balance of creative and technical talent in teams
  • What it all means for brands and why you should start figuring that out now

Our guestPicture of Oren Jacob, CEO and co-founder of conversation design platform, PullString

Oren Jacob, co-founder and CEO of Pullstring. Oren has worked in the space in between creativity and technology for two decades.

After spending 20 years working at Pixar on some of the company’s classic films such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo, Oren created ToyTalk.

ToyTalk was a company that allowed kids to interact with their toys through voice.

As voice technology progressed and voice assistants and smart speakers were shaping up to take the world by storm, ToyTalk morphed into PullString, the leading solution to collaboratively design, prototype, and publish voice applications for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IoT devices.

About Pullstring

For over seven years, PullString’s platform, software, and tools have been used to build some of the biggest and best computer conversations in market, with use cases and verticals as diverse as entertainment, media and health care, for brands such as Mattel’s Hello Barbie and Activision’s Destiny 2. It was also used to create, the latest in big-ticket skills, HBO ‘s Westworld: The Maze.

Where to listen


Visit the PullString webiste
Follow PullString on Twitter
Read more about how the Westworld skill was created
Check out the details of the talk Oren will be giving at the VOICE Summit 18
Check out the details of Daniel Sinto’s demo of PullString Converse happening at the VOICE Summit 18
Check out the VOICE Summit website