Conversational Exploration

As a UX Motion designer for Amazon Alexa, I was tasked with designing and implementing an experience that reimagines how customers can search the internet using Echo Show devices. While the previous experience worked well for providing customers with a specific answer to an inquiry, usage data showed that interactions would often end after a single Q&A. The previous experience also failed to disambiguate the customer’s intent when multiple results were scored similarly using the ML model that matches results to inquiries. Additionally, the visual experience displaying search results was often less appealing than customers expected and offered nothing to explore beyond a dead-end response. 

Leadership hypothesized that it would be helpful for customers to expand their interactions beyond short Q&A inquiries to enable them to explore topics of interest more deeply, and with more visually rich results. The project was particularly ambiguous as it required estimating technical capabilities for a 1-2 year development timeline, and the experience was novel to the Alexa ecosystem.

My role was to identify areas to improve static designs that had already been proposed, and to improve their usability and lovability through UI animation. 

The design process started with parsing the technical and business requirements, gathering user research, and analyzing customer behavior to understand how they search the internet using the previous CX. The team identified customer pain points and areas of improvement, which were used to inform the design of the experience moving forward.

The development timeline was fixed and quite tight, so it was important for me to propose achievable designs that were within scope for the near-term release, while simultaneously prototyping ways to further improve the experience for future releases and evaluating the efficacy of designs along the way. 

I identified key areas to up-level the look and feel of the experience using simple animation patterns that created a more lively, sophisticated, and usable experience while creating minimal engineering lift. For example, I proposed a scaling animation to bring life to static photography, transitions that aesthetically introduce search results on screen and guide the eye flow of customers as new information is revealed, and an animated timeline that informs customers about the length of stories and articles while Alexa reads them. 

Additionally, I re-designed the overarching structure of how search results are organized on screen, which was widely adopted by the UX and engineering teams as the north star experience to work toward. 

During the design process, we carried out user testing to validate various design choices. I created prototypes with selected variations to isolate the design characteristics that we were most interested in gathering feedback for and worked with a 3rd party agency to design and carry out facilitated testing in a controlled space.

We tested the designs with a diverse group of users and gathered their feedback in real-time as they interacted with the experiences. The feedback was used to identify pain points, areas of confusion, and opportunities for improvement. We used this feedback to refine the design and create additional prototypes that addressed the issues raised by the users.

The user testing helped us to validate the effectiveness of the new experience and provided us with valuable insights into the user's needs and expectations. We were able to iterate and improve the design based on this feedback, ensuring that the experience met the needs of our customers.

I worked closely with the several development teams to assess feasibility from the beginning of the project to help inform guardrails for my designs. Once designs were approved by various stakeholders and validated with testing, I handed them off to be be implemented. 

Along with prototypes, I delivered detailed design specifications that break animated UI choreography and static designs into the fundamental specs (e.g. precise timing, curves, scaling, etc) used to implement them.

I worked with developers to help unblock them when questions arose, then provided QA feedback on the developed experience to get it as close as possible to the validated designs. 

The Conversational Exploration experience has been implemented, released, and well-received by customers, improving customer engagement and satisfaction with Alexa-enabled devices. The project's tight timeline and ambiguous requirements helped me develop my skills in estimating technical scope, creating engaging experiences that allow users to parse information quickly and easily, and validating decisions with high quality user research. 

The Ambient Explore Nova experience was a challenging project that helped me to learn more about the holistic design and development process . The project's complexity, tight timeline, and ambiguous requirements helped me develop my skills as a UX designer who can confidently work with multiple development teams. The project's success has been a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire team, and I'm proud to have been a part of it.

To showcase the vision for the Ambient Explore Nova experience, I created an animated demonstration video for a presentation at the Re:Mars technology conference, which can be found at the top of the page. It features an early take on what the experience could look like that was further built upon through iterative design and testing. The presentation generated a great deal of engagement with customers, developers, and internal members of Amazon, including positive remarks and guiding feedback from Dave Limp, SVP of Amazon Devices. The feedback helped to further shape the team's north star vision based on leadership’s business goals for the product. 
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