The spread of language assistants, such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, heralds a new evolutionary stage for user interfaces. In fact, now it is expected now, according to forecasts by market research firm ComScore, which also finds that at the latest by 2020 around 50% of search queries will be voice-based.
Of course. running a search query via speech and getting the result read out loud does not make sense in every context. Despite all enthusiasm for new technologies, one should always keep an eye on usability, since it is a fundamental requirement for a broad acceptance of the technology by the users.
Certainly, voice is unbeatable when it comes to speed, not to mention ease without the need of long typing and being able to do other activities parallel, in obtaining information or starting an interaction. Voice search makes sense wherever short keywords are too imprecise for a good search result or long tail optimization is a bottomless pit.
But what to do in a noisy environment, e.g. in public transport, or when it comes to predominantly visual searches, like in the field of fashion? A sole voice search is of little meaning there; hence, the advantages of traditional search modes are not replaced by voice. With that in mind, voice search may not be an all-encompassing game changer, but it will push several technological trends soon.
Reason enough to start thinking today about strategies, which role language assistants will play in the very own business environment. The following aspects could be considered:
- Customer benefit: where does the user benefit from voice search?
- Scenarios: in what environment does the user search for the brand or product? What added value can a combination of different search modes offer?
- Decision: what fits better to the brand image - featured snippets read aloud or a dialogue via chatbot? Featured snippets can reproduce simple question-answer scenarios and are especially suitable for W-questions, FAQs or HowTos. They are easy to integrate into a website and can be read by Google. Chatbots, on the other hand, can perform detailed dialogues and provide a multimodal interlocking to text or display.
- Intensity: how deep should the user enter the dialogue? To what extent does the classic website user experience reach its limits?
- Language: how should the user be addressed and with what tonality? Language offers a lot of room for sympathy but also for misunderstandings.
Voice alone is not the future of search, but a user-centered mix of traditional text search, voice and visual. Depending on the complexity of the search query, the context and the application scenario, the user receives the appropriate search mode - sometimes in pure form and sometimes as a combined version. In the future, voice search must be understood as part of the online user experience and be included in the SEO strategy. Only then can useful applications be staged for the whole range of search, which really raise the interaction between user and interface to a new level.