Voice User Interface Designer/Writer
Diana Deibel is a speaker, writer, and Lead Designer at the digital product design consultancy Grand Studio, focused on leading their voice and future tech initiatives. She is also the founder and co-organizer of the Chicago branch of the Ubiquitous Voice Society. Her design work mainly centers on crafting multichannel experiences using human-centered voice-first design.
In addition to writing and designing for bots, Diana is a produced playwright and screenwriter who has written and produced for a variety of networks and creatives including Animal Planet and Blue Man Group. She is the co-creator of the webseries, The Underlings, and the in-development pilots, Shytown, Automates and Frances, Choose.
Throughout all her work, Diana believes in creating stories and solutions representative of the diverse world we live in, and in questioning the outcomes of our creations.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City?
Chicago is such a livable city – there’s plenty of public transportation and bike/walkability in a lot of the neighborhoods and is still much more affordable than the coast cities. It has so much to offer from the music scene to incredible restaurants to the lakefront and nature trails, and in the summer the whole city comes out. It’s like we all live in hibernation in the winter and are so excited to be out and about in the summer that there’s a real community feeling. The weekly street festivals help with that, too.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
I don’t go out that often but I love Revolution Brewery for the beer, the veggie burger, and the noise level that drowns out my toddler’s inability to speak at “inside” volume.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
I am not a human without 1-2 coffees in the morning. I try to tone it down to just tea/sparkling water throughout the rest of the day.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
I absolutely love Phoebe Robinson’s Instagram (@dopequeenpheebs). She is such a smart cookie and one of the funniest writers. She delivers learnings and laughs!
What should everyone try at least once?
Traveling by yourself – it’s an incredible feeling of self-reliance to go somewhere out of your comfort zone (and this can be to another neighborhood in your city or town nearby you’re not familiar with). I have found a lot of my confidence has come from traveling alone and being forced to talk to people I don’t know and explore places I haven’t been.
How did you get into the industry?
I graduated from college with a degree in playwriting, which, as you can imagine, is really useful in the real world. I worked my way into the entertainment industry where eventually I was writing scripts and producing work for theatre and documentaries. When a personal move took me to Chicago, I pivoted to content design for a health tech company and was in the right place when they decided to create a line of voice products. It wound up being a perfect marriage of my logical problem-solving brain and my creative dialogue-writing background. Turns out that playwriting degree was useful after all!
Career advice to those in your industry?
If you don’t have an opportunity to work on voice products where you are but want to get into it, start playing with building on your own. There are some great free tools out there, like Google’s DialogFlow, that allow you to design and interact with your ideas in a simulator. It’ll allow you to build up a portfolio and learn about what works and doesn’t in a practical way that can land you your first job. And read everything you can. There are tons of free articles out there on how to design for voice. Those will allow you to learn from experts even if you don’t have anyone around to lean on or the money to go to conferences where you can hear them speak.
Any emerging industry trends?
I’m LOVING that, overall in tech, we’re starting to see a push towards ethics, towards holding ourselves as creators of products and experiences accountable for the work we’re putting out into the world and the repercussions of that work. It really speaks to a desire to use the power of creation for a better world and to be more thoughtful about how each decision might impact a person in that world.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
The best experience I can imagine is one where you speak in whatever language is most comfortable to you, in the vernacular that is innately yours, and the system understands you immediately and can speak back to you in words you understand. Add to that contextual memory (the system knowing what you’re talking about, even if the reference is from a previous conversation) and we’re in business. We’re getting so much closer with the technology to being able to create this kind of experience, and voice product users are really chomping at the bit for this. It’s basically being able to deliver on the promise of conversation – that the “person” you’re speaking with understands what you’re saying and responds back in a way you understand.
How do you motivate others?
I keep our project goal in the center of every part of the work process (what are we trying to build here/what is the point of all this?) and try to give everyone a chance to lead one portion of the process. I am not the expert on all things always, and it helps the whole team to learn from each person who’s collaborating on it, as well as give each team member the agency and ownership they need to feel like the work is both theirs and meaningful.
My Native AdVantage:
What are my aspirations?
I’d love to take my work full circle back into TV, particularly scripted episodics. Working in the future tech space really sparks my creativity and being able to explore that in a fictional way would be a way to incorporate everything I’ve learned.
My Biggest Success?
Surviving year one of being a parent. There were many days I didn’t think all of us would make it.
My Most Challenging Moment?
Leaving New York for Chicago for personal reasons was a huge decision. I had a great career path in NYC, and it felt stupid on paper to leave when things were on an upswing for me, career-wise. I put personal needs ahead of my career, though, and it wound up being the best decision I could have made. Moving here led me to voice design, which really has been so fruitful for my overall career and in improving my screenwriting. Plus, I get to live in a space with more than 2 rooms which would never have happened in NYC.
What Else to Know?
Here’s a little from me on the voice experience side of things:
Podcast interview: Design for Voice (4/19/19)