What is Zero UI and how does it effect my business?

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 07/07/2017

I came across the topic of zero UI and decided to do some research. The idea is actually pretty interesting, though it already seems to be making it's way into our everyday lives. So, I wouldn't say the concept is entirely new. 

Let's talk about what zero UI is, how it can and probably will be used, potential problems, and how it can be adopted by businesses. 

"Behavioral design is all about feeling in control. Includes: usability, understanding, but also the feel."

- Don Norman

What is zero UI?

Zero UI is pretty much the movement from screens to artificial intelligence. Though, this doesn't necessarily mean zero screens, it's integrating voice, gestures, facial expressions, glances, haptic feedback, and tons of data to send you information when you need it and in the best way possible.

The goals?

  • Reduce the amount of time we spend on screens as much as possible
  • Make interactions quick, smooth, and intuitive
  • Allow machines to understand and predict the user's voice, gestures, etc. 

AI is already making it's way into our lives though. We've seen it through Siri, Cortana, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, etc. So Zero UI isn't really a new thing, it seems to be the direction we've been heading in this whole time.

Here's an example that comes to mind. Imagine you're driving and your navigator realizes that you're going home from work. It may analyze your usual route, pick up on construction, traffic, or anything that could add time to your route and give you a notification or alternate route.

So is a truly screenless experience the next step?

Probably not. I can't imagine using voice and gesture commands to do everything. It will probably just be another outlet to engage with your audience and work alongside all existing channels. 

One thing to note is that user data will be recorded over time to make more educated decisions. Ideally, it will be able to predict what information you need and when, and determine your destination and intent.

Potential issues?

Of course there are a handful of problems with Zero UI that could occur. One could be any outer noises interfering with voice commands: people talking around you, noises while on the road in your car, etc. 

Another potential problem is that you'd be publicizing your interactions. Setting specific reminders, sending personal and professional messages, and asking for information. Voice doesn't seem to be the best option when you're at the store or at work. 

It's just one of those things where you have to go back to your user journey. Depending on your business and what you offer, where and when do you think your users will attempt to engage? Will they be pulling up information you write about at work, at home, or somewhere on the go?

What does it mean for businesses?

Data Driven

We already rely on data to evaluate our success and determine next steps. We observe user engagement to make decisions on where to improve websites. We see how specific users interact with a site to understand what content should be added, erased, or changed, what features to include or remove, and so on.

This won't change.Data will still drive your success through the Zero UI channel. The problem? Companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft will have access to that quality data. Smaller businesses might have trouble getting their hands on it.

Designs

Zero UI seems to take journey driven design to the next level. Right now, we look at our personas, how they get to our site and what the goal is. It's linear. They always start on your site and either leave or convert.

The next step is to create journeys based on these new channels. When someone asks Google a question relating to something you've written, what will the next few steps look like?

Content

Having a reach that's good or visibility that's just satisfactory won't be good enough anymore. Marketers are going to have to really up their game and use data to push their content to the right people at the right time through the right channels.

Let's consider the 4 types of mobile moments:

  • I want to know: user is searching for information or an answer to a question
  • I want to go: user is searching for places to visit in a given area
  • I want to do: user is searching for a type of service, a place, or experience
  • I want to buy: user is looking to buy a specific product

We'll need to think of how users will be asking questions. Long tail keywords and great SEO will probably be huge factors in whether your content is what the users get. The best thing to do is just keep releasing helpful content, invest in your SEO, and really think about your keywords and how users will be searching for your content. 

With new interfaces comes new ways for our visitors to pull information, new designs and ways to deliver that information, and new ways to nurture our leads. For example, we could think about proximity notifications for deals in the area, user preference, and so on.

To conclude:

In order to successfully engage with our audience through new and upcoming interfaces, we need to understand our user journeys. People won't just be coming to your website through a shared social link. Zero UI allows for a more self-learning process that becomes more personalized to the user. 

Rethinking your user journey? Click the button below.

New Call-to-action