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Jul 27, 2005: IA of Sound

Greg Phillips writes:

I'm an IA in Los Angeles and have recently been offered an interesting position involving a voice-enabled system that will be running as a virtual customer service rep. The position is slated as a Business Analyst position, but they've offered me the job because of my development and IA background. They're entering really deep waters with this project, with loads of old and new data and no clear sense of what they're dealing with, other than subject matter experts and technology experts.

I'm sensing there is going to be a lot of typical IA work just dealing with this information. But it's not a visual app, so I'm curious if you know of any IAs or resources that have begun to address doing IA for sound. And specifically the design and usability factors. Has anybody worked in this or written anything about it--beyond the theoretical?

I've scoured IAwiki, Boxes and Arrows, yours and the IA Institute's sites and haven't come up with anything specific.

Interesting topic: the IA of audio information. I've no clue; any ideas, anyone?

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Comment: Donna Maurer (Jul 27, 2005)

Rather than the 'IA' of sound, he'd be better looking for HCI-related information. I have never had to do research here but I'd start with the ACM library and HCI journals rather than IA resources. The usability-list-that-must-not-be-named would be a good place to ask as well.

Comment: Justine Sanderson (Jul 27, 2005)

Not sure whether this would help: Voice Interaction Design: Crafting the New Conversational Speech Systems - released earlier this year. A sample chapter is available at http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/book/v6i15_harris.html

Comment: Livia Labate (Jul 28, 2005)

But what aspects of sound?

Lost in Translation: IA Challenges in Distributing Digital Audio
by Dan Brown - http://tinyurl.com/cwnwv

Comment: Chris2fur (Jul 28, 2005)

You should look into the automated self help systems everyone and thier brothers use to reduce cutomer service costs. There is a ton of IA/Usability work that has gone into them over the years to build the "pretty damn good" systems of today.

You can also check out UX stuff on the old style WAP browers used for cell phones - the challenges are very similar.

Believe it or not Microsoft has done some good work in this space - check out http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnnetspeech/html/hlaac_iv.asp

Also check out Cisco's voice services - I think they have a few white papers which list some best practices.

Other starting points:

Good luck!

Comment: victor (Jul 28, 2005)

What Donna said.

The central community for this is ICAD:

A page I did 10 years ago has some classics in the bibliography:

Comment: Peter J. Bogaards (Jul 28, 2005)

This might helps as well:

Audio Interfaces for Online Environments -by Clark MacLeod

and because we are all into structures, something inspirational from the Arts

Sonic and Visual Structures : Theory and Experiment by Nicolas Schöffer

Comment: Jeff Lash (Jul 28, 2005)

I believe the official term is IVR: interactive voice response. Not sure if you're talking about "Press 3 for 'Agent Zero'" or "Why don't you just tell me the name of the movie?" but in either case, you may have more look if you search for things related to IVR. A quick google of "ivr + usability" turned up


Probably a good place to start. Have fun!

Comment: Edward Vielmetti (Jul 28, 2005)

One of the companies that does a lot of this work is TellMe - I'd look at their "design studio" for elements you would need to work with. http://studio.tellme.com/

Comment: Guilhermo (Jul 29, 2005)

Maybe it can help. I had to write a report about best practices of usability in voice interfaces more or less one year ago here in Brazil. I can´t send the report, but I can send part of my bibliography.

It´s not much. These are the best links:

- http://voiceui.info/home.html

- http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnnetspeech/html/hlaac_iv.asp

- http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030127.html

Comment: Mike (Aug 1, 2005)

I did some ground work to defining the IA for an IVR system a year ago. To get an understanding of the issues involved in speech recognition systems, I read "The Art and Business of Speech Recognition: Creating the Noble Voice" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0321154924/qid=1122914420/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-0675075-1347335?v=glance&s=books).

Very useful book to give you a solid start. From then, just apply all the conventional IA principles and you'll be fine... :-)

Comment: Lou (Aug 1, 2005)

Great responses; thanks for sharing what you know!

Comment: Chris (Aug 5, 2005)

Also check out the early papers of Elizabeth Mynatt.

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