The adoption of voice technology continues to surge with assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant becoming staples in our everyday lives. And Adobe recently found that a whopping 91 percent of brands are already making significant investments in voice.

71 percent of those brands see voice as improving the user experience. But are consumers realizing that promise?

Today, we’re kicking off Voice Summit with the findings from a survey Adobe conducted of 1,000 voice technology users in the US about their experiences. …

Record and share conversations with Amazon Alexa.

In the world of visual design, there are countless ways to share our work with others. To showcase a static interface, we can use screenshots. To illustrate an interaction, we can make an animated GIF. And when we need people to actually experience a concept, we can create an interactive prototype with tools like InVision or Marvel.

For voice interface design however, an entirely new set of options are needed.

Sharing Your Work With Others

Since we first launched our design and prototyping platform, Sayspring has given creators the ability to share an interactive prototype of their voice interface, letting others speak to it even…

Friends and family had a lot of questions about Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Here’s what I told them.

More than two years since the launch of the first Amazon Echo, the popularity of voice assistants shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, the Amazon Echo Dot was the top-selling product by any manufacturer on Amazon this holiday season, with “tens of millions” sold worldwide.

Like many startup founders, my family doesn’t really understand what our company does, but they do know it involves Amazon Alexa and Google Home. …

Non-verbal audio and sound are crucial elements of effective voice-first experience design.

As platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant continue to drive the growth of voice user interfaces (VUI), more and more designers are finding themselves working in a medium that is new to most of us: audio.

Understandably, the focus of the design process is usually placed on the ‘voice’ element of the project. But non-verbal audio, such as sound effects and music, can enhance the effectiveness and emotional connection that users will experience when using and interacting with your VUI.

Meet the Earcon.

Inspired by the concept of an icon (“eye-con”), earcons are short, distinct sounds that communicate an event, status, or…

Embedding mp3s into your voice UI is one of the most compelling capabilities that SSML (Speech Synthesis Markup Language) has to offer voice designers. Intro music, sound effects, and recorded voices are underused yet powerful elements of voice design projects. And best of all, they’re easy to implement.

Get started including audio in your Voice design

1. Encode your mp3 to make it compatible.

MP3 files need to have the following specifications: MPEG version 2, bit rate 48 kbps, sample rate 16000 Hz.

Our team at Sayspring has created an easy way to convert files to a format compatible with voice assistants. Just drag and drop your mp3 or wav file into our converter and you’ll…

Voice apps get a new way to stand out in a very crowded market

There were some big announcements at an Amazon event this week — most of them focused on new gadgets, namely the Echo Spot. Similar to the Echo Dot, it has 4 microphone arrays, but also a small screen that looks like a clock.

Hidden in the big event where we all met the Spot is one easy to miss detail that will soon be very hard to ignore, particularly for voice designers. That detail is the introduction of Amazon Alexa “Routines.” With the introduction of Routines, Alexa apps just got the equivalent of the smartphone homescreen.

The smartphone homescreen of voice design

Just as homescreens are…

Why these two tech titans are joining forces on voice.

It’s not often that two competing companies that are each pouring billions of dollars into similar platforms agree to work together, but that’s exactly what we saw with the just-announced partnership between Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana.

Trying to predict the future is a crucial part of being a startup founder, especially when you’re working in a category as new as voice. We’re building design software for voice applications at Sayspring, so we’re constantly thinking about how the major voice platforms will unfold.

The recent news that Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana will now “talk to each other” is a…

Speaking at Design Driven NYC (Photo Credit: Caitlin Strandberg)

The rise of voice interfaces will change the way we design everything.

When we hear the term “voice” we often think of platforms such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but the growing popularity of voice interfaces will make them a primary means of digital interaction across every medium, including web and mobile.

Voice will impact every form of digital design, forever changing both our design process and the organizational structure of design teams.

I recently spoke about this shift in the design world at FirstMark’s Design Driven NYC, the largest monthly creative community in NYC. …

Apple enters the smart assistant speaker market. Sort of.

At this year’s WWDC, Apple announced a Siri-powered home speaker, aptly named the HomePod. Rumors about this device have been circulating for well over a year, and has been described by some as Apple’s “Echo Killer.”

As the founder of a startup building design software for voice applications, I think quite a bit about how the voice ecosystem will evolve. Since multiple people have asked for my thoughts about the HomePod, I figured I would share them here.

The selling points for HomePod

During the introduction, Apple focused on the HomePod as a great sounding speaker over it’s strength as a “smart” speaker.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how it works

Everyone is excited about the announcement of the Amazon Echo Show, an Alexa-powered device that features a screen, but there is an equally disruptive part of today’s news.

Amazon just released free audio messaging, text messaging, and calling between all Alexa devices, as well as the Amazon Alexa mobile app.

A New Life for the Alexa App

Until now, the Alexa app hasn’t been super useful. It has been more of a settings section for your devices, allowing you to manage preferences, enable third-party skills, or link accounts to those skills. With the addition of messaging, Alexa now has an increased presence and importance on the smartphone…

Mark C. Webster

Voice UI/UX Design, Product, Developer. Founder of @Sayspring (now part of Adobe). Editor of Prev: Co-founded SideTour (Acq'd by @Groupon).

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