• Bailey Doolittle Smith
4. Term, Information Architecture, Master (Master Programme)
The question addressed in this project, “What constraints do users experience with respect to finding and managing information, and what might an IA designer do to improve user experience?” is approached from a qualitative case study of smart speaker users. Over the past five years, two smart speakers have been released, becoming part of a group of devices with intelligent personal assistants that operate via voice interaction, a development that only recently become commercially available and viable. The technology of intelligent personal assistants has finally become available for home use in the form of the smart speakers Google Home and Amazon Echo. Consumer interest in these smart speakers has increased since the Echo’s announcement in 2014 and release to Amazon Prime customers in 2015. As other companies begin to add their smart speakers to the market, the number of available devices and contributors to the field increases, and the conversation about what role information architecture and information architects can play becomes more and more relevant. However, research on these intelligent personal assistants has only recently started to be published, and research on the smart speakers is almost nonexistent. Therefore, this project serves to help further the research into and discussion of designing information architecture for smart speakers and intelligent personal assistants in the academic world.
In this project, information architecture is addressed more as a broad concept of structural support of user navigation of an information space rather than a finely grained set of rules and regulations for guiding a user through a space. This is because information architecture is highly dependent on context, content, and user, and the relevant components of any information architecture will be defined on a case-by case basis. This issue is even more relevant in terms of the conversational nature of the intelligent personal assistant (conversation itself relying on context and the collaboration between machine and human to be successful) and the fact that these devices are in the user’s home (further pushing the relevance of the consideration of context and the user in design of information architecture). This idea of the relevance of the context, content, and user in information architecture design is corroborated by computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum, psycholinguist Herbert H. Clark, computer scientist and natural language programmer Terry Winograd, and professor of Anthropology of Science and Technology Lucy Suchman. Considering the nature of these smart speakers and the role they serve in the users’ homes and lives, the inclusion of users is even more important in this context.
In order to investigate the context in which the smart speakers and the users exist and to propose guidelines for designing information architecture for smart speakers, the scope of the existing literature on these smart speakers (and similar technology) is presented in order to establish the current context of this project. Following this contextual exploration, I conducted 19 user interviews either over Skype or in the users’ homes to ensure that, in recommending information architecture design considerations, I was speaking from an understanding of the context, the users, and the content of the user’s experience, and to ensure that the voice of the users continues to be heard in the building of guidelines for designing information architecture for smart speakers.
Publication date19 Oct 2017
Number of pages77
ID: 263686338