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When companies like Netflix, Capital One, and Apple set out to create products that have an impact, they take design seriously. Design contributes to their bottom lines. Voice UI will follow the same path. Anyone who can make voice products with a similar attention to design stands to win.

We’ve outlined the 3 design tenets most applicable to great voice products below. 

1. Use prototypes to get conclusive user data


Netflix’s mobile product designer, Andy Law, describes the company’s creative culture as “highly iterative”, collaborative, and diverse. Although these might seem like fairly status-quo best practices for successful companies, Law differentiates Netflix’s design approach:

“We don’t do much wireframing. A lot of design teams start with low-fidelity wireframes, but we’ve realized through user testing that most people can’t really respond to wireframes—they just don’t see them the way designers do.”

While some companies prefer user testing low-fi versions of their product, Netflix focuses on prototyping and testing full experiences to create something users can interact with.

2. Create valuable systems for user testing and customer feedback


Capital One keeps user responses at the core of its products. It’s no surprise that they’re one of the few banks whose voice skill is known in the Alexa developer community. With Capital One Labs, they have created a new standard for banking technology: Constant communication with users.

3. Iterate until your technology is undeniable, magical


Apple’s product development process famously prioritizes design. From Steve Jobs’ storied calligraphy class epiphany to Apple in its current form, there has always been a dedication to design and iteration, with constant product examinations and reviews built into their culture.

Francisco Tolmasky, a former Apple engineer, told the New York Times about the pressure to iterate not just until something was finished, but until it was so good it was magical:

“Steve was really adamant,” Mr. Tolmasky reflected, adding that Mr. Jobs would say: “’This needs to be like magic. Go back, this isn’t magical enough!’”

That magic is evident in the way Apple allocates an extensive amount of time, resources, and money towards product iteration and making small design improvements based on testing. Does this mean Apple will be the first to release a truly magical voice skill? We’ll know soon. The Apple Homepod launches at the end of 2017.

Voice design has the potential to unlock a lot of value from voice technology. It’s just a matter of when.

Start on Sayspring today.



Mark Webster

Founder and CEO of Sayspring. Designer. Developer. Follow me on Twitter at @markcwebster.