Pandora Voice Assistant


Pandora is building a new Voice Assistant feature. Users can ask Pandora anything from simple commands such as "Play top songs by Joy Division" to more advanced queries "Show me the most popular albums by Joy Division between the years 1980 - 1985". It's a powerful feature that sits on a layer above the core app, allowing us to create dynamic search results and temporary sources that do not have a permanent home in the core app.


My Role

I led the end to end design for both iOS and Android platforms though research, user testing, wireframing, visual design, and prototyping. I worked closely with engineers to ensure design quality standards. I collaborated with other designers to integrate this feature throughout the product.


The Goal

The goal for this project was to create a voice assistant to help the user navigate Pandora's huge music library. This project started out as part of the Car Mode experience for handsfree driving, but eventually evolved to become part of the core Pandora product.



After I was assigned this project, I worked closely with PMs and Engineers to brainstorm ideas. I created user stories with the PM to make sure we cover all the functionality and solve our user's needs. I worked closely with engineers to help them with developing realistic development estimates. Involving cross functional teams early on in the process is crucial for the success of a project. After the initial ideation period, I started my design process. 


Designing the Core App Experience


The first screen above introduces the physical voice entry point located inside search. The user can also activate the voice assistant by saying "Hey Pandora" or using the pinch gesture anywhere throughout the product. I designed voice to be a layer on top of the core product because you can activate voice anywhere. To give the user context, you can still see a peek of the layer below though a blur.

The second screen shows the main voice UI. Upon entering voice, the UI prompts the user to speak. The user's words are projected onto the screen as they speak to give visual feedback. The rings in the animation signal that the app is listening. There is also a secondary bubble animation that reacts to users voice.

The third screen displays our "Show me" experience. With this, the user can request advanced search queries, and have continuous conversations and feedback with the voice assistant. 


Designing for the Car Experience


The above screens are specific to the car experience. While the experience is closely tied to the core app, there are a few important distinctions. I had to adapt the experience to become less distracting for the driver. These differences include larger text and button sizes, limited options to choose from, more audio feedback for the user so they can keep their eyes on the road. I also relocated the mic icon from the bottom of the screen to the corner, to create a seamless transition from the entry point (see prototype below).


Interactive Prototyping

Please turn up your speakers for the full experience.


Communicating the solution

I used to create an interactive prototype for the Car Mode voice experience. I wanted to communicate how the feature functions and how the animation works.

The prototype starts with the user in car mode. The user taps on the microphone button to enter voice and request a simple command. The animation and text responds to the user's voice and transitions back into the main car mode with the completed request.

Prototyping is an important step in my design process because it helps with communicating design solutions across the org. I also found that delivering the prototype, along with static mocks and specs was very useful in communicating the desired behavior to the engineers.


What's next?

My next step is to continually monitor and study how users interact with my feature. A very interesting thing to pay attention to for this project is failed search queries. This can uncover some of our user's needs that we've might have missed. Paying attention to stats and metrics will also help me determine what is successful and what needs continual work. There are always ways to improve designs.