Volume 1, Issue 6 - June 2001

Dear Readers,

The focus of this month's issue is human factors considerations for VoiceXML applications. Getting the user interface of a voice-enabled application right is a difficult and time-consuming task. Our three feature articles this month are intended to help you appreciate the major challenges of writing a usable voice application, and at the same time offer detailed and systematic suggestions on how to go about the task.

Our first article entitled Human Factors and Voice Applications is written by Ed Halpern. Drawing on his many years of experience designing user interfaces, Ed first identifies the defining characteristics of "good user experience" and then proceeds to describe the core concepts behind the user centered design methodology. The article concludes with a discussion on dealing with application complexity and error handling.

Our second feature article is written by Mike Farley and is entitled User-Centered Design for VoiceXML Applications. Mike presents the details of user centered design (UCD) as applied within the context of VoiceXML applications. The article provides specific suggestions on topics such as mental models, designing and testing good prompts, and error reduction/recovery techniques.

Bill Byrne wraps up our human factors discussion with an interesting article entitled Turning GUIs into VUIs: Dialog Design Principles For Making Web Applications Accessible By Telephone. The article contrasts the design of voice user interfaces (VUIs) to graphical user interfaces (GUIs). The inclusion of a number of audio clips illustrating the good and the bad, help bring to light the rather subtle issues one has to be concerned with when designing voice applications.

This month in the First Words column, Rob Marchand introduces us to the dynamic generation of VoiceXML documents using web server technologies. In this area, authoring VoiceXML application has a lot in common with developing HTML-based web applications.

Our regular columnist Jeff Kunins has taken a one month hiatus from his Speak & Listen column, so this month you'll have to put up with yours truly. I've answered several of your questions ranging from how to call your VoiceXML app with a telephone to a question on internationalization support in the VoiceXML language. As always, if you have a VoiceXML-related question you'd like addressed in a future column, send us email at speak.and.listen@voicexmlreview.org.


Jonathan Engelsma
Editor-in-Chief, VoiceXML Review

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