Oliver Bailey, Client Partner & Co-Founder of Absurd


Increasingly mobile phone users find speaking to Siri much quicker and convenient than writing keywords into a tiny keyboard, and millions of virtual assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are being used everyday – more so now as people work and spend more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic, according to recent stats.

Not only is the number of voice device users on the rise, the volume of voice searches also continues to grow.


1. According to Amazon, there are now more than 100,000 Alexa skills and ‘hundreds of millions’ of Alexa users. Skills for UK audiences are estimated at around 35,000.

2. Around 1 in 5 (21%) of UK homes have smart speakers (5.8 million households; 10 million + people, 12 million devices).

3. The technology is now appearing within other devices – from wearables to cars.

4. Between 65-70% of owners speak to a smart device daily.

5. 50% of all smartphone users are engaging with voice search technology in 2020.

6. A leading research company predicts that 30% of all browsing sessions will include voice search by 2020.

7. Within the past year alone 58% of consumers have found local businesses using voice search and 46% of those users will repeatedly use voice search to find a local business on a daily basis.

8. Covid-19 lockdown has increased smart speaker usage, with 50% reporting an increase in news and information consumption.

9. Almost two-thirds (61%) of families are using voice assistants in the living or family room, while 43% use them in the kitchen.

10. The most common voice searches on smart speakers are music (around 80%) and news and weather (around 60%), asking questions and finding facts (around 57%), local search.



How To Find Your Voice

Making sure your brand isn’t missing out on this valuable communication avenue by ensuring sites are optimised for voice is vital starting point within any voice strategy, particularly for businesses offering a service.

Further than this, a great way to identify whether your brand can benefit from a voice app or other techniques to incorporate voice into your strategy is to consider a Design Sprint, as part of a larger design approach. This five-day intensive process can help you reach a point where an MPV can be explored further and show, through user testing, whether your voice application is providing additional value.

During this process, key elements to deciding whether voice are considered, which will include:

What research do you have that indicates a voice skill is a viable?

What problem(s) will it solve? Will it make things easier for your customers? – any voice technology or solution should provide a value to your audiences (this can be easily tested with an MVP).

Can your brand benefit from greater accessibility, allowing the elderly, children and disabled to obtain valuable information in a much more user-centric way?

Are there key messages within your communications that aren’t cutting through, that could benefit from a voice application.

Can your voice response provide enough information to not make the customer journey more complicated than before? While you can use Alexa’s Presentation Language, which allows you to build interactive voice and visual experiences across the device landscape, it should not rely on this to make sense.

What information does the customer need to provide? Is this too sensitive or complicated for voice? Many people will not want to be overheard asking for certain information or to provide personal data via voice.


What does success look like? How will you measure its success?

And as it’s relatively new technology, it is important to track and learn throughout the design process. Using data driven design we can see how people are interacting with the Skill, so we can take these insights and continue to improve the service.

If research doesn’t show that your voice application will provide value – or lend itself to your product or service – then there is no point in progressing down this route. Just because you build something does not mean your audience will automatically seek it out or use it. In order to be successful, your voice application must deliver value and be useful to your audience.

But by giving audiences a really easy way to access information, we can test to see whether more information sources like this should be accessed via voice.