Young Designers 2011

Voice User Interface Design –Spoken Web Browser
Design for Digital Experience | PGDPD
Mamata N. Rao
IBM - India Research Lab, New Delhi
Voice user interface
Spoken web
Bottom of the pyramid users
The aim of this project was to create a comprehensive browser for the Spoken Web platform, which would help increase usability and decrease the cognitive load of the user while browsing. Techniques in ‘audio browsing’ such as audio cons have been used and the browser allows users to listen to voice sites, follow links, navigate and get a spatial perception of the interface. The proposed Spoken Web browser attempts to provide users with a more intuitive experience and gives the user greater control and choice.

Since this platform was typically used on a low-end phone, the project began with a preliminary contextual inquiry in a village in Haryana. It aimed to understand the demographic and technographic profile of the intended users, their usage patterns, and their take on technology. I also analysed their preferred information consumption mediums and popular metaphors.

Initial concepts were created for the proposed audio browsers, based on these user insights. Three approaches — personification of the browser, personification of the primary function and storytelling — were taken up for creating the prototypes Scripts were created by defining the metaphors, key design criteria, dialog strategy, grammar type, universals and non-verbal audio. Final prompts were weaved into the script for the audio browser. Three prototypes were then created on Flash and ported on a mobile phone, on which user-testing was conducted.

This project gave me the opportunity to explore the realm of auditory modalities and how they can become rich in user experience through design interventions. Understanding elements such as prompts, grammars, and dialog logic and testing the design with actual users made this experience enriching and insightful.
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