VUI Challenge #1: feedback

I got feedback!

This is a follow-up to the previous article. It’s best to read that first.

I got some wonderful feedback from inspirational conversation designers, including the creator of the challenge.

I’m doing this challenge to improve my design process. With that in mind I want to tackle as much feedback as possible. This isn’t a live project, and the only ‘client’ is me, so I’m fully open to trying different ideas as I could learn some new tricks.

My design so far

Here’s what I’d created for the previous blog:

This is your TV guide. Let’s take the drama out of finding great tv! We’ll leave mystery and suspense to actors. Tell me; shall I recommend something playing now, find something to watch later today, or look up the time and day for a particular show?

And the feedback…

I’ve listed the feedback below in ‘order of attack’ that I would tackle them in a live project.

Jason F. Gilbert

Exact wording of the LinkedIn comment: Tell Me. Your instincts were correct. I think the sentence could start with “Shall I” and nothing in the tone or meaning changes.

I’d overthought the text and had decided that the words “tell me” were necessary and useful. They weren’t!

Joseph Suskin

Exact wording of the LinkedIn comment: Sounding a little like a talking ad, albeit with best practices vux. Imo, it needs some jenga-ing and some out loud reading. I wouldn’t edit/jenga by looking at the script, but by vocalising it with me peepers shut. Same technique for vid scripts. We talk in shorthand. right?

I love this idea — to repeat the words over and over with my eyes shut and find a wording that feels more like natural speech. I recorded it and created the following (edited together from about 10 minutes of improv):

The wording of this would be:

Here’s your TV Guide. Less agony while you search means more time for drama on TV. Are you watching TV now and looking for recommendations, hoping to find something on later, or do you want to look up info for a particular show?

  1. That’s shorter than the version I’d made in the previous blog. I’m happy if it’s succinct and still gets the point across
  2. I aimed to stop the assistant referring to itself with “I” or “me” so that the focus is fully on the user —a ‘tv guide’ bot isn’t likely to need a fully developed personality
  3. The thing I don’t like about this version is that the final 3 options presented to the user feel more clunky

Maybe I can nail no 3 if I reword the ending? How about this?

Are you itching to watch something now, planning your evening on the sofa later or looking up info for a particular show?

Phrases like “itching to” are so colloquial. I would have to test whether they’re fully understood. I could go even further into ‘matey, matey’ language (like two friends sitting together on the sofa):

You itching to put your feet up and watch now, planning some me-time on the sofa this evening, or looking to get the deets on a show?

(Imagine that said by the late Bob Hoskins for the vibe I had in mind)

It’s more informal which could be seen as personal and friendly. On the other hand it’s longer (without much improvement), and I assume it would totally miss the mark with some people — they could ask questions like “me-time? Deets? What are you talking about?”

So the previous version feels better for me (at least as a starting point for testing). Here it would be in full:

Here’s your TV Guide. Less agony while you search means more time for drama on TV. Are you itching to watch something now, planning your evening on the sofa later or looking up info for a particular show?

I’m still unsure about “itching to.” Instead it could be:

Here’s your TV Guide. Less agony while you search means more time for drama on TV. Are you watching now, planning your evening on the sofa later or looking up info for a particular show?

The wording “are you watching now” implies that ‘if you’re both watching TV and asking the TV Guide for information at the same time then you’re looking for a recommendation for something to watch right now.” That feels like a hefty assumption, but it also feels like it could work. I’m 50/50 about it.

Honestly, the writing now feels like it lost A LOT of character — BUT who says character is necessary for this scenario? The user is looking for info about TV, not looking to hang out with a ‘diamond geezer’ like ol’ Bob Hoskins.

Compare that to the version in the previous blog:

This is your TV guide. Let’s take the drama out of finding great tv! We’ll leave mystery and suspense to actors. Tell me; shall I recommend something playing now, find something to watch later today, or look up the time and day for a particular show?

That now feels formal in comparison to the newer version!

I like the new version — it feels more like natural speech and less like a ‘talking ad’ (Joseph’s criticism). It’s shorter but doesn’t feel like anything was lost.

I’m just one person though. I’m not the millions of potential users with different dialects and needs. It needs testing! Which leads onto Jesus’ comment:

Jesús Martín:

The tweet in full — ‘This is really impressive Benjamin! Love reading your process and all the thinking you put on it. Well done. Clapping hands emoji. You can do some guerrilla testing, play the audio to anyone, and track their answers to see if they are align with what you expect.

Praise for the work so far, and a reminder that the only way to get a good result is with testing, testing, testing!

Great advice indeed. Testing is the greater part of the job, with each round of testing informing the updates for each round of iterations. Jason spoke about it too when I interviewed him.

Done!

That’s the first challenge of 100!

I feel I’ve gone pretty deep into this challenge and want to move on. I don’t intend to blog every single challenge — only the ones that seem most indicative of my thought process.

Thanks so much to everyone who gave me feedback on my designs — that is the best way to learn and improve.

I hope this has been interesting and useful to you!

Take care.

Benjamin McCulloch

Conversation Designer (with audio superpowers)

Conch.design

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