24 to 27 May 2022 Lisbon, Portugal

Preston So

Senior Director, Product Strategy at Oracle

Preston So (he/him) is a product, design, engineering, and innovation leader, digital architect and strategist, designer and developer advocate, multilingual educator and speaker, and author of Voice Content and Usability (A Book Apart, 2021), Gatsby: The Definitive Guide (O'Reilly, 2021), and Decoupled Drupal in Practice (Apress, 2018). He has been a programmer since 1999, a web developer and designer since 2001, a creative professional since 2004, a CMS architect since 2007, and a conversational and immersive designer since 2016.

A product leader at Oracle, Preston has led product, design, engineering, and innovation teams since 2015 at organizations like Acquia, Time Inc., and Gatsby. Preston is an editor at A List Apart, a columnist at CMSWire, and a contributor to Smashing Magazine and has delivered keynotes around the world in three languages. A globally recognized authority on the intersections of content, design, and development, he is based in New York City, where he can often be found immersing himself in languages that are endangered or underserved.

Thu 26 May
Voice Interface Design and Usability

Over the last several years, interest in voice interfaces has exploded thanks to the proliferation of smart speakers and low-code tools for designers. Spoken voice interfaces differ considerably from their written chatbot counterparts in the conversational space, but they present both fascinating opportunities and dizzying conundrums. Whether you're building voice interfaces that conduct transactions or deliver information, designing voice interfaces isn't like working with visually rooted user experiences. Our screen-based canvas becomes instead an aural soundscape, and navigation becomes negotiation.

In this workshop, Voice Content and Usability author and longtime conversation designer Preston So will teach you how to think about voice interfaces the right way, craft compelling dialogues, construct flow diagrams, and perform voice usability testing. In the process, you'll learn about voice's intersections with accessibility and usability and how you can expand your skill set as a designer to embrace the most human of interfaces: spoken conversation.

  • The history of voice interfaces and its roots in accessibility
  • Key differences between spoken and written conversational interfaces
  • Transactional (task-led) vs. informational (topic-led) voice interactions
  • How to write conversational dialogues for voice
  • How to build flow diagrams for decision-making and dialogues
  • Usability testing for voice interfaces
  • Accessible and inclusive voice interface design

Together, we'll motivate our voice interfaces with user scenarios and narratives, distinguish between spoken and written conversational interfaces, write sample dialogues adhering to voice best practices, draw flow diagrams rooted in both decisions and dialogues, and understand how usability testing works in voice interfaces. This workshop will be technology-agnostic, meaning most or all concepts will apply to any implementation tool you choose.

By the end, you'll be able to apply your new expertise and knowledge to any voice project at any stage of the process and using any technology in the conversational space. You'll be able to speak idiomatically about voice interface design workflows and processes, shepherd a voice project from conception and design to testing and deployment, and generate the core design artifacts that underpin voice interface design today: sample dialogues and flow diagrams.

This workshop assumes no prior experience with conversation or voice interface design and no expertise with conversation design tools. Please bring a computer with a word processor such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word. A diagramming tool such as Google Drawing or OmniGraffle is recommended but optional, as all diagramming in this workshop will be sketchable using pen and paper.