Objective: Design contextually useful features that make Alexa an indispensable, hands-free resource outside of the home or car.
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.
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.
I wrote the interview guide and we worked together to conduct 13 interviews with people that fit into our five on-the-go segments.
The content strategist collected published studies on the market and trends in the voice assistant sector.
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.
I conducted a survey with questions about headphones and earbuds as well as voice assistants. The survey collected 88 responses.
We then synthesized all of our research and using our findings, I created five personas for each of the segments.
Each persona had:
We also created journey maps, showing the persona's ups and downs throughout their on-the-go scenario. We used real quotes from our interviews to illustrate the pain points in the journeys. (Unable to show due to confidentiality agreements.)
Our research, personas, and user journeys gave the Alexa team clarity around their users and the segments we were designing for, and gave us the empathy and insight we needed to begin ideating.
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 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."
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!