In the past 2 years, I have:
- Designed and developed 6 Alexa skills as studio projects (Chatty Creations).
- Designed and developed 2 Alexa skills for small companies.
- Designed 4 Alexa skills for large corporations as a contractor at Mobiquity.
Chatty Creations Alexa skills: From an Interactive story (Kiwi Monsters) to an Interactive song (The Muffin Man), a funny quiz (Surviving Australia) and a 6-level puzzle (Save the blob) - each voice application is carefully designed, with testing, iterating, and incorporating "beautiful" sounds and human voices.
Create an entertaining children's' voice app.
Engage children as active participants.
Children enjoy a fun interactive experience.
Grown-ups can enjoy quality time with their children or use the time for doing other activities.
Einat Laudon (me):
User research, Personas, Content (co-writing/editing audio), Flows, User testing, Creating multimodal images, and Development.
Co-writing, Singing and Recording.
Background - Children love singing and listening to nursery rhymes and often do it as part of a group sing-along.
Managing the scope I decided to use a well-known song as the foundation for a choice-driven voice application and create an interactive sing-along.
Children make choices during the song and affect which verses are played.
Target audience: Children ages 3-7 - who like nursery rhymes and can communicate with Alexa devices. Their Grown-ups - who are looking for entertainment for their children (mostly without screens).
- The family owns an Alexa device and knows about using Alexa skills.
- The Alexa device is able to understand the children (or alternatively the parent can help and answer on behalf of the child).
User Personas (summary)
Olivia Novak - 4.5 years old, female, loves to go to preschool, to play outside and in her room, likes her screen time but also likes to play with the family Alexa devices (with and without screens). Likes to listen to nursery rhymes and funny songs on Amazon Music (through Alexa).
Motivation - Wants to have fun and enjoy exciting experiences. She does not like being bored. She finds new ways to enjoy her Alexa device.
Anthony Novak - 37 years old, dad, male, works from home in sales. Takes care of Olivia and Liam (1-year-old) in the afternoon/evening along with his spouse (mom).
Motivation - He would like to provide activities for his daughter, including things that she can do by herself. This frees him up to make dinner, fold laundry, answer emails and other tasks. He also likes to have activities he can enjoy with his daughter and spend quality time with her and her brother.
* After conducting interviews with different parents I created 2 user personas (A child and a parent):
Voice Persona (summary)
Megan Schoenbohm - A children's' singer. She sings in indie style, has a sweet voice, is engaging and has a strong connection with children. She knows how to excite children with her voice and words. She is Compassionate with children and listens to them.
She plays the role of herself in the application.
After reaching out to Megan, it was decided to use The Muffin Man song since it is in the public domain and a well-known and loved song.
Flows and Content
I created a flow based on The Muffin Man song. Working closely with Megan, I developed new characters and fine-tuned the script to suit her unique personality as a performer.
Design and Development with Voiceflow
Voiceflow is a non-coding tool for design and development of voice apps.
I used the flow above as a reference.
VUI Elements integrated in the skill:
'Today we're going to sing about The Muffin Man....'
'Who do you want to meet, a dog or a cat?'
Local and Global Intents (including Fallback)
'A dog', 'A cat', 'I don't know', 'the muffin man'
'A dog', 'Dog', 'I want to meet a dog', 'meet a dog', 'Maybe a dog', 'How about a dog', 'I like the dog', Etc..
Using edited recordings according to Alexa's limitations and requirements.
Conditions and variables
One of my goals was to provide an alternate greeting when the user returns to the skill. to check what is the Session variable content. Then welcome the children in a different way according to the number of times they used the skill.
A small part of the flow as built in Voiceflow
I sent a beta test to several families, asked them to take videos of their children using the skill and made small changes according to their feedback. For example: raising the volume of the audio files, a few more randomizations of different wordings and adding more sample utterances.
Publishing to the Alexa skill store!
Gathering more user feedback and applying changes
The Muffin Man Alexa skill was reviewed by Jovo's Testing Tuesday. They found a few issues and I incorporated changes to the design and development.
For example, I added a 'Louder' intent - Users can't control the volume while using a skill, but I did add a response in case they try:
Alexa: 'Hmmm, I can't control the volume when inside of a skill, please use the buttons for now.'
Also, I added the option for users to keep asking for the same character over and over and getting the right verse.
Creating a multimodal experience
By conducting an art contest, I incorporated children's drawings inside the skill for Echo Show devices. Recently I received an email from a parent, their daughter wanted to add her own drawings to the skill, and so I added hers too.
Average interactions inside the skill per user (per session/per day) - How many times did they answer Megan in a day.
The Final Result
The Muffin Man skill is being used by many families. I was told by parents that the skill helps them by entertaining their children, allowing the parents to do other things. Some families use the skill together (grown-ups and children).
The Muffin Man skill was chosen as a Project Voice 2020 Awards finalist for the category: Publishing/Storytelling Voice Experience of the year.
The Muffin Man - reviewed by EchoDad and his children.