Amazon Alexa /
Creating the perfect companion for users on the go.

Objective: Design contextually useful features that make Alexa an indispensable, hands-free resource outside of the home or car.

timeline & Deliverables
  • Timeline: 8 weeks
  • Deliverables: Research report, two vision videos, and a UI framework
Jump to the solution
  • Cameron Koczon - Creative Director
  • Aaron Robbs - Lead Designer
  • Julie Bourne - Content Strategist
  • Myself - UX Designer
With a Lager dongle, hardware engineers can communicate to their devices through the Cloud and access their data files from anywhere.
Docklight is an industry standard software that hardware engineers often use for their serial communication needs when testing and debugging devices.

Our challenge was to maintain feature parity with Docklight while solving three big problems it presents:
1. It requires you to plug in your device with a USB, limiting distance and movement allowed during testing
2. The files it spits out directly onto your computer desktop are poorly named and pile up quickly.
3. The interface is cluttered and non-intuitive

While the team was hard at work building a wireless dongle that communicated through the Cloud, I worked on designing an experience for hardware engineers that would help them organize their data files and move about the interface with ease.

My challenge was to maintain feature parity with the industry standard software, Docklight, while designing an experience that would help hardware engineers organize their data files and move about the interface with ease.
All major real estate companies use the same configuration for their search page: a search field and filters above a split screen of listings in a grid and a map.

Using a mobile phone while on the go can be inconvenient, unsafe, or even impossible. Voice assistants have the potential to mitigate these issues.

In September 2019, Amazon released their proprietary Alexa-enabled earbuds, called Echo Buds. Alexa was also beginning to surface as a feature on many third-party headphones and earbuds (collectively referred to as "hearables"). This presented a new context where Alexa had never been before: the outside world.

Introducing Alexa to the outside world presents endless use cases, but also comes with many obstacles, like lowered attention span, and the social awkwardness of speaking to a voice assistant in public.

Our challenge was to come up with a vision for Alexa’s capabilities outside of the home that would excite both current at-home users and potential new users to further grow the Alexa user base.


We started the project by meeting with multiple teams within the Alexa ecosystem. The varying perspectives and concerns across the org gave us a lot of context for shaping the final deliverables so that they could be used for multiple purposes. For example, the Engineering team would use our deliverables for technical scoping while the Partnerships team would use them for B2B marketing.

  1. Being portable means being interruptible.
  2. Changes in context, like going from your home, to your car, to in public, have to be seamless.
  3. Feature discovery for voice assistants is difficult using voice alone.
  4. If users try to use a voice assistant feature and it fails, they’re unlikely to try again.
  5. Voice assistants are often guests on other devices, and users must choose one to activate.

We explored the intersection of three experiences: using Alexa, using headphones and earbuds, and being on the go.

We started by conducting research that would allow us to create journey maps and identify specific pain points where Alexa could provide the most value.

Hour-long interviews

I wrote the interview guide and we worked together to conduct 13 interviews with people that fit into our five on-the-go segments.

Rapid desk research

The content strategist collected published studies on the market and trends in the voice assistant sector.

Audit of popular skills

Using data given to us by the client, we tested and looked at reviews and ratings of the most popular skills overall as well as in the five on-the-go segments.

"Hearables" survey

I conducted a survey with questions about headphones and earbuds as well as voice assistants. The survey collected 88 responses.

Our research gave us the clarity we needed to come up with features that, when put together, created a brand new experience for Alexa users.


Our vision for Alexa on the go was a personal assistant who didn't just complete tasks, but anticipated user needs by being contextually aware.

Our research, videos, and UI framework inspired a lot of cross-team discussion during the presentation.

Due to confidentiality agreements, I am unable to share any ideas or assets related to the final deliverables.

However, we heard positive feedback from the project lead at Amazon, who followed up with us to say our work "put [the Alexa team] in the right spot to move forward."

Final Thoughts

This was one of the most interesting projects I've ever worked on. I especially enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of designing a hands-free experience in an environment where interruptions were to be expected and timing is everything.

It also gave me an inside look at what it is like working in a large org where communicating across multiple teams is imperative for everyone's success.

I'm excited to see how Alexa grows and evolves!

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