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Developing a VoiceXML Code Prototype

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A voice-based application is as frustrating as a traffic jam if it doesn't meet the user's expectations. This article takes you step by step through the process of usability testing your VoiceXML application.
This article is adapted from Voice Application Development with VoiceXML by Rick Beasley, Veta Bonnewell, Mike Farley, John O'Reilly, and Leon Squire (Sams, 2001, ISBN 0-672-32138-6).
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A VoiceXML application can be prototyped at the activity level, or you might develop a prototype of the entire application. The prototype might not have access to real content on the Internet. It might not have professionally recorded messages. Whatever level of detail you want to prototype to is okay, as long as the prototype runs on your test platform. Your test platform could be a VoiceXML developer's site available on the Internet, a proprietary software developer's kit that runs on your personal computer, or a VoiceXML interpreter platform available to you at work.

The following sections discuss usability testing a limited functionality prototype. We assume a complete VoiceXML application, loaded on the test platform, with access to real or simulated Internet data. In other words, an application so complete that you can test everything, with these possible exceptions:

  • Real-world system latency

  • Quality of professionally recorded announcements

  • Issues related to the length or format of Internet content that the application might retrieve for output to the user

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