Practical Speech User Interface Design: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Practical Speech User Interface Design

1st Edition

By James R. Lewis

CRC Press

344 pages | 36 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2010-12-10
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Although speech is the most natural form of communication between humans, most people find using speech to communicate with machines anything but natural. Drawing from psychology, human-computer interaction, linguistics, and communication theory, Practical Speech User Interface Design provides a comprehensive yet concise survey of practical speech user interface (SUI) design. It offers practice-based and research-based guidance on how to design effective, efficient, and pleasant speech applications that people can really use.

Focusing on the design of speech user interfaces for IVR applications, the book covers speech technologies including speech recognition and production, ten key concepts in human language and communication, and a survey of self-service technologies. The author, a leading human factors engineer with extensive experience in research, innovation and design of products with speech interfaces that are used worldwide, covers both high- and low-level decisions and includes Voice XML code examples. To help articulate the rationale behind various SUI design guidelines, he includes a number of detailed discussions of the applicable research.

The techniques for designing usable SUIs are not obvious, and to be effective, must be informed by a combination of critically interpreted scientific research and leading design practices. The blend of scholarship and practical experience found in this book establishes research-based leading practices for the design of usable speech user interfaces for interactive voice response applications.


"Whether you are a scholar looking to study various aspects related to the use of speech recognition technology in interactive systems or a practitioner working on designing and implementing interactive speech recognition technology, Lewis’s book is definitely your starting point. It can also be used as a companion while implementing speech technologies."

—Avi Parush, ergonomics in design, July 2013

Table of Contents


Foundations of Speech User Interface Design

A Focus on Research-Based Design Guidance

Organization of this Book



Speech Technologies

Speech Recognition

Speech Production

Speech Biometrics



Key Concepts in Human Language and Communication

Implicit Linguistic Knowledge




Conversational Discourse

Conversational Maxims


Discourse Markers

Timing and Turntaking

Social Considerations in Conversation



Self-Service Technologies

Service Science

Call Centers

Technology Acceptance and Readiness

Satisfaction with and Adoption of SSTs

Relationship of IVR to Other SSTs

Waiting for Service

Service Recovery

Consequences of Forced Use of SSTs



The Importance of Speech User Interface Design

User Acceptance of Speech IVR Applications

Location on the "Hype Cycle"

The Disciplines of SUI Design and the SUI Design Team

The Consumers of SUI Design

Major SUI Objectives

The Components of SUI Usability

The Power of the SUI



Speech User Interface Development Methodology

Concept Phase

Requirements Phase

Design Phase

Development Phase

Test Phase

Deployment Phase

Tuning Phase

Sample Design Documents



Getting Started: High-Level Design Decisions

Choosing the Barge-In Style

Selecting Recorded Prompts or Synthesized Speech

SUI Personality and Persona

Deciding Whether to Use Audio Formatting

Using Simple or Complex Speech Recognition

Adopting a Concise or Verbose Prompt Style

Allowing Only Speech Input or Speech plus Touchtone

Choosing a Set of Global Navigation Commands

Deciding Whether to Use Human Agents in the Deployed System

Choosing a Help Mode or Self-Revealing Contextual Help



Getting Specific: Low-Level Design Decisions

Creating Introductions

Avoiding Poor Practices in Introductions

Getting the Right Timing

Designing Dialogs

Constructing Appropriate Menus and Prompts

Tips for Voice Spelling

Confirming User Input



From "Hello World" to "The Planets": Prototyping SUI Designs with VoiceXML

Sample 1: Hello World!

Some VoiceXML Concepts

Sample 2: Hello Worlds

Sample 3. Adding More Complex Features to Hello Worlds

Sample 4. Even More Features

Using Breaks to Fine-Tune Timing

Using an Application Root Document



Final Words

I Appreciate Your Patience

Please Hold for the Next Available Research

Thanks for Reading, Goodbye!


About the Author

James R. Lewis is a Senior Human Factors Engineer with IBM Software Group in Delray Beach, Florida.

About the Series

Human Factors and Ergonomics

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Engineering
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety