Voice technologies are one of the big opportunities for brands. But lovable and voice are not yet synonymous. Maybe you see an opportunity or a problem to solve, how do you make the experience lovable?

There are two key aspects to building lovable experiences. The first is that it’s built with love, the second is that it’s built to be loved.

I’ll share with you how we partnered together with Encyclopaedia Britannica to embrace this new technology and create a lovable Alexa skill and Google Home action, Guardians of History.

What Is Guardians of History?

Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Guardians of History, is an interactive voice-activated adventure where kids time travel through ancient history to save the future from the forces that threaten history. The first episode, “The Olympia Obstacles,” provides a choice-driven experience where players travel back in time to the ancient city of Olympia, Greece. As players immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of Olympia, they learn about history in a fun way.

After all, Britannica’s mission is to inspire curiosity and the joy of learning. Storytelling is one of the most powerful means to teach and inspire. Stories forge connections between people and places. And voice platforms allow you to have a conversation with your customers in a unique way (such as guiding kids through time-travel adventures…). The perfect overlap for Britannica, a trusted source on history, and voice.

Built with Love

Building with love can mean a number of things: motivation, communication, problem solving, technology, team makeup and so on. I want to focus on the one that I think is essential to building lovable experiences. The team co-creates the experience. We get to unexpected and exciting places when we bring people with different mindsets and backgrounds together. In my career, I’ve worked on projects where everyone has a responsibility and the work is passed off at each point. Researchers research, designers design based on insights from the field and developers execute the design, the client approving or disapproving along the way. But that approach, while it gets us to market, doesn’t get us to lovable. Co-creation is key to building lovable experiences.

Simply put, it shows in the work when we all have skin in the game and feel like our perspectives are heard throughout the process. To kick off our engagement with Britannica, we brought everyone together for a series of workshops. Workshops in which we didn’t just align on the goal of the project, a list of requirements and a timeline. We started by educated the group on voice and ideated potential experiences for varying age ranges. We used data to help inform our decisions. We upvoted the concepts we were excited about, created prototypes and put them in front of kids to test and learn. The team didn’t agree at every point along the journey but we were in it together. We committed confidently where we differed. Co-creation builds investment into the work and the work reflects that ownership.

Built to Be Loved

Lovable design also requires an understanding of the people it’s being created for. The experience has fewer features, not building unneeded elements into the design. But rather the features it includes are all lovable — possible, functional, valuable, and evoking emotion. Spending time “out in the field” learning from who we are creating for is key to achieving this. What better way to continue to gain expertise as people are always evolving and put a face with the data to make it more human.

With both our team and Britannica we took prototypes of our rough concepts from the workshop, before a line of code had been written, out to co-create with our customers. Man, did we learn. While it sounds obvious, what adults find funny isn’t always the same as what kids find to be funny. There was a joke at the beginning of the skill that not one kid laughed at. Instead the response frustrated them. The kids were instructed ask what something stood for and then told there wasn’t time for that question. This attempt at a light-hearted joke would not have made a good first impression had we launched with it.

The other key learning was the desire from kids to be familiar with the places they were able to visit in the experience. Choosing to visit the Parthenon or an agora was too intimidating but going to visit someone’s home was relatable and intriguing to the kids. So, we chose to send them on a path in which they can learn and engage with the marketplace, also known as the agora, and other places in Ancient Greece with being intimidated by words they weren’t familiar with. Through simple and fun interactions, we could keep them engaged.

As Ryan Bond, Britannica’s Director of Digital Consumer Products, will tell you:

“Using your voice means you can explore history in a more immersive way. When you hear the sounds of a Greek marketplace and you hear the sounds of a temple, you let your mind wander in a different way.”

Co-creation and understanding your users are the keys to creating valuable, lovable experiences. Built it with love and to be loved.

Raika Sarkett

Raika Sarkett

Practice Lead, Voice