How Voice Enabled Assistants Will Usher in Forgettable Design

Language and the Machine


Remember, these technology are our personal assistants. With an assistant, you need to have a basic understanding about each other, how to communicate and interact, what your limits are, etc.

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In the digital and product development space, prevailing wisdom has long been to create memorable experiences. Great experiences get seared in the mind, the thinking goes, and a bond is formed between consumer and brand.

The thing is, most brands provide services that are pretty mundane. You know, like insurance or airline tickets, upgrading a seat or booking a table for dinner. For the average human, tasks like this fall into the category of things we’d like to complete as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Just let me change my seat so I can get back to doing literally anything else.

Building the future

As an agency that builds all sorts of digital infrastructure for brands, we love when we get the opportunity to create something truly unique, to push the needle in a new direction, to introduce new habits, etc. But in reality, those opportunities are rare and most brands have more common issues that need immediate attention.

The majority of what we do is solve for the mundane. How do we get them to stay another night; to upgrade their seat; to read one more article; to add items to the cart and checkout. These aren’t life-altering experiences, nor are they always memorable in the sense that you are just trying to get it done as quickly as possible. You inherently want to forget, to move on.

But that doesn’t mean you forget completely. I believe that somewhere in the back of our minds we store these little forgettable experiences, the way we felt when the task got completed quickly and painlessly. So the next time you go to book a table, you think “it’s not going to be that bad”.

In fact, it may be quite pleasant. So by creating something forgettable, a brand registers a moment of simplicity in the user’s mind. Taken together, many small moments build to create a larger effect, utility-driven brand equity.

Voice: The Ultimate Expression of Forgettable Design

So that brings us to voice, a wholly new design environment that is ripe for innovation (OK Google, Alexa: What does my brand sound like? via AdAge). Amazon Echo and Google Home are ushering in a new era of design simplicity via Skills and Actions, add-on capabilities that can be created by anyone with the will to learn how.

As voice-technology developers, we see a bright future in the space. In 2007 the ‘app economy’ was introduced and we all benefited from a 10 year-run of services and businesses built on top of apps. We think voice has the same potential to spur another 10+ years of invention.

For brands thinking about entering the space, it’s really important to consider how your contribution will fit into the overall experience. If your brand solves mundane problems, and you think you can make something truly useful, don’t worry about making it memorable. Make it forgettable.

Remember, these technology are our personal assistants. With an assistant, you need to have a basic understanding about each other, how to communicate and interact, what your limits are, etc. So as people develop relationships with their voice tech, they will come to expect a level of consistency across experiences. Like how every shopping site now has a “Wish List” function in addition to a shopping cart. We have developed certain common expectations, and the same will happen with voice technology.

So each time someone makes use of your Skill or Action, it will be a reminder that your brand can be counted on to solve problems quickly and efficiently, according to a shared set of expectations. That’s why we buy voice tech in the first place, to solve problems in a consistent way, and hitching your business to that notion will have a lasting effect.

Whether you’re designing across screens or invisible voice interfaces, and you have a solution to a mundane problem, consider how to make it forgettable. And be remembered as a result.

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Image Credit: CNBC

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