If speech is a natural form of communication, then why is it so hard to use speech to communicate with machines? Because machines aren’t human, it isn't especially natural to use speech to communicate with them (Balentine, 2007). "The techniques for designing usable speech user interfaces are not obvious, and must be informed by a combination of critically interpreted scientific research and leading design practices" (Lewis, 2011).

And why is this important? Design matters. Good design leads to a positive relationships between companies and their customers. The negative consequences of poor design come in many flavors -- e.g., wasted time, frustration, anger -- all of which lead to damaged relationships.

The purpose of this wiki is to draw upon the knowledge of the voice user interface (VUI) design community -- a community that has roots in the sciences of psychology, human-computer interaction, human factors, linguistics, and communication theory, the artistic disciplines of auditory design and script writing, in addition to decades of real-world experience in the design, deployment, and assessment of speech applications -- to share leading practices in a way that will allow them to evolve over time.


Balentine, B. (2007). It’s better to be a good machine than a bad person. Annapolis, MD: ICMI Press.

Lewis, J. R. (2011). Practical speech user interface design. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.