Chapter 13. Releasing Multimodal Products: Validation and Learning

AFTER DOZENS OF ITERATIONS, ruthless prioritization, countless cups of coffee, and whirlwind factory visits, your completely operational Death Star multimodal product is ready to meet the Rebel Alliance your users. It may feel like discovery was completed many phases ago, but a new kind of discovery may be just beginning.

Release methodologies like dogfooding, alpha, and beta play a larger role in hardware product releases: they give designers a great opportunity to validate real-world usage that can be difficult without both functional products and the real-life contexts of users. Running acceptance tests to validate multimodal designs can provide valuable insight that can only be found “in the field.”

During full releases of multimodal products, initial user experiences reveal unexpected adoption behaviors. When Siri first came out, there were countless stories of how users tried to “stump” the service only to discover funny Easter eggs in her repertoire. Further releases broadened this playful aspect of Siri, and continue to both delight users, and also deepen their learning of the service through play.

This is one of the most rewarding parts of designing multimodal interactions. People will always manage to surprise you. As designers, we get to try to surprise and delight them back.

Release Is About Process

The industrial designer Eva Zeisel said, “As a designer, it’s your job to give people gifts ...

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