How to Design Your Apps

Because conversational interfaces are most likely a novel thing for you to design, we highly recommend you go through our design processes and best practices when building your apps. This also gives you the best chance for getting your apps approved when you submit them for approval.

This initial design effort might seem like a lot of extra work upfront, but the exercise of designing your actions' conversations is one of the most effective ways to improve your app's quality.

Pick use cases

Conversational interfaces work best for use cases that fall into these general categories:

  • Things people can answer off the top of their heads. Actions that can be accomplished with familiar input like times or dates.
  • Quick, but compellingly useful actions. These usually give users a lot of benefit for very little time spent, such as ordering items quickly.
  • Actions that are inherently better suited for voice. These are typically things you want to do hands-free, like hearing a recipe while cooking or making a mental note while driving.

Create a persona

Voice Sample
Male 1
Male 2
Female 1
Female 2

TTS Voices. When you deploy your action, you also get to choose a TTS voice for your action. You can listen to samples of all available TTS voices here.

Personas help you design and write your conversations, so choose one early on to make it easier to pick the right words, syntax, and structure. Personas can range from happy, sad, self-deprecating, formal, and anything in between.

Remember, since users will perceive a persona whether you plan for one or not, it's in your best interest to frame the experience the way you want to be perceived instead of leaving it up to chance.

Later on, you'll start writing some dialogs, or the different bits and pieces that make up your conversation. When you do, try a few personas and write a few dialogs with each to see what works best.

Think of an app name

Your invocation name is the primary way that users invoke your app, so it's very important that you pick a good one. If your app name is hard to pronounce, sounds like other words, or can't be recognized well by Google, then it's likely that users have a hard time starting your app. Start thinking of names that reflect your persona and brand but still adhere to these guidelines.

Write dialogs that work on multiple surfaces

Now that you have chosen a few use cases and decided on a persona, you might be tempted to dive into development, but resist the urge! Instead, start by jotting down the dialogs that make up your conversation with a pencil and paper, or anything you prefer that gets you writing quickly.

When you design UIs that need to work on devices with audio support, display support, or both, we recommend that you start writing down the spoken conversation first. Writing the spoken conversation will give you all the dialogs you need for your audio-only experience, and from there, you can supplement that with visual features such as cards, lists, and other affordances to enhance the experience on screens.

When writing your sample dialogs, be sure to account for these scenarios:

  • A "happy path" that isn't too complicated and accomplishes the action in the easiest way.
  • Additional paths that users might take to come to the same ending as the "happy path".
  • Conversation repair scenarios where users do something unexpected, such as asking to do something you don't support or not being able to understand them.
  • Dialogs where users exit in the middle of a conversation or at the end of it when they've done what they wanted.
  • Variations on how you greet users when your app is invoked.