VOICE INTERFACE DESIGN
An Alexa skill to help people workout from home.
Roles: UX Research, User Testing
What is an Alexa Skill?
An Alexa skill is an app that enables the user to employ Alexa to help them with different tasks. Alexa already has the ability to perform built-in capabilities, for example, play music from different services, answer questions, do web searches, provide access to information about the weather, check the time, add reminders, timers, and more. Alexa has the possibility to let its customers create new skills that embark on a wide possibility of capabilities.
I’ve created a skill that helps me workout from home. This specific workout is part of an online challenge created by Chloe Ting that went viral a couple of months ago. The idea is to focus specifically on exercising abs and core muscles. Each exercise is combined in sets of two and after each set, there is a 15 minute rest period totaling 10 minutes of length for the workout. I wanted to help users to build healthier habits and give them the ability to work out from home without any equipment required. Compared to a digital app, this skill gives you the ability to focus on your exercise without having to look at the phone screen or at a screen in general. I think when users want to relax and workout some might appreciate the time off a screen and just focus on finishing the exercise. One disadvantage can be that some users might find it hard to follow the exercises without a visual guide.
Initially, I wanted to create a 7-minute workout that will focus on the whole body, but after some thought and research, I found that there are quite a few Alexa Skills that do this. So I wanted to focus on a more specific exercise targeting niche users. I’ve done this specific workout multiple times, and I found it to be challenging but rewarding.
At the beginning I wanted Alexa to explain how to perform each exercise to a level of detail that is understandable for anyone who is not familiar with how to perform an exercise. After trying it out, I found Alexa to be very repetitive and it can waste an experienced user’s time. Late, I found out that Alexa has a built-in capacity to describe how to perform an exercise, so I think for users trying this skill for the first time might take them some time to get used to the exercises but after the first two workouts it becomes easier to remember and users might be more familiar with how to perform each exercise. In order to encourage users to use this skill, I decided to add phrases that will make users feel more motivated during the workout. I wanted to make the user feel like they are working out with a personal trainer or with someone else.
After trying the skill, I found that it was actually easy to use and easy to perform the exercises. Something that I think can be improved, is the ability to play music while working out without lowering the volume of the music. I also found that it can get annoying when Alexa gives encouragement in the middle of a resting set. This is caused by how the blueprints are set and the inability to choose when we want to give encouragement.