techire ai

Oct 26, 2021

5 min read

The People Behind The Bots — Jesús Martín

Jesús Martin, Senior Voice User Interface (VUI) Designer @ Amazon

Jesús Martín is a Senior Voice User Interface (VUI) Designer at Amazon. In his earlier days, he started out in Advertising and Public Relationships. Fast forward to 2015, he fell into the world of chatbots and voice assistants. He’s now applying his deep UX and product design experience to voice applications and multi-modal experiences. We hear all about his journey and what helped him along the way.

Q1 — What drew you to the Conversational AI industry?

Jesús: As a school student I was really passionate about writing. I used to go everywhere with a notebook and a pen trying to create something like poetry. I left that passion aside in my early career, diving really deep into the fundamentals of design. I spent some years learning how to polish every pixel and helping users achieve their goals in graphic interfaces. In 2015 I got into an R&D department where I discovered chatbots and found out that I could design with words. It was incredible to realize that I could make my two passions come together.

Q2 — What skills or transferable skills helped you when entering this space?

Jesús: For me, design is only possible when technology, business and user are able to meet. I’ve always been interested in understanding the three of them and when talking about conversational AI there’s not much difference. Before we get into the prompts we need to understand the resources we have, the business model, the feasibility of the solutions, the customer needs, the scenario, the context… The process and mindset are cross to any digital product designer and spending years of my career understanding that helped me very much when it came to designing for AI.

Q3 — Were there any specific resources, tools, industry experts, that helped you along the way?

Jesús: Many! I’m a huge fan of learning by doing, and from the very beginning, I learnt tons by struggling with different platforms and tools. I built my first prototype with rundexter that used to work with a spreadsheet and simple regex. Since then I have probably used and tested any existing one that could help me in any way design a conversation interface.

Besides tools, I can name a few people that changed everything for me. Matty Mariansky with the first article I read on the topic, Cathy Pearl and THE BOOK, and Nieves Ábalos, CDIO in Women in Voice, transmitted me all her passion for conversational interfaces.

Another thing that has helped me a lot in my way is sharing my thoughts in my blog. Writing helps me dive deeper into the topics I share, organize my thoughts and opinions around them, and get feedback from a broader audience. For me, sharing is a great way for learning while you give back something to the community.

Q4 — In a sentence or two tell us what your role entails

Jesús: When a user makes a request to Alexa to control anything inside the car, I’m the one that defines the action to do. For making that decision I need to take into account all the possible situations and scenarios so I can define the best experience for the customers.

Q5 — What do you enjoy most about your role?

Jesús: I have always loved solving problems. I like to think that when users make a request, they are actually willing to solve a problem they are having. If I am able to find a solution and that solution is better than any other one on the table, I win. That is an incredible challenge and an incredible feeling when you are successful. Also love the idea of walking through paths that were never visited before. Voice interactions still have lots of room for improvement and things change from one day to the next one. My work has a great component of adapting to uncertainty and dealing with the tools we have at hand until we can invent new ones.

Q6 — What is the most challenging part of your role?

Jesús: In design, in general, I would say that it is always fighting bias. Anyone can define a solution and we do it all the time from the moment we wake up. It is incredibly normal though, to assume that users are all equal to us, suffer the same problems, and need the same solutions.

The second super interesting challenge is around creating flexible solutions that can adapt to the things you don’t control. In voice interactions, there can be big chunks of information that you are not going to be able to control. However, customers will not understand those problems. They will always have high standards and blame you when things don’t fit their needs properly.

Q7 — What excites you about the future of this industry?

Jesús: I feel like moving towards what we all dreamt and saw in science fiction movies! Voice is the most natural way to interact with anything that surrounds us and software is not any different.

But there’s still a lot of room for improvement, from the tech side and from the design side. Being part of that change really thrills me. Multi-modality, multi-device, context awareness… I’m so excited to see how all the pieces start to come together. Voice has an incredible future ahead.

Q8 — What is one piece of advice you would give to other people looking to enter this industry?

Jesús: Learn by doing, share anything that you do, and don’t be afraid to expose yourself. There are tons of tools and resources out there to help you get started for free. You should have no excuses to start building your projects today. This is still a young field, and there is still a lot to be done, a lot to be improved, and a lot to be discovered. If you need ideas on how to start, you can enrol the

Techires’ takeaways:

  • Being able to adapt to challenging and new situations will certainly help you in this industry.
  • The industry has come a long way, but there’s still so much room for growth. Which brings new exciting challenges!
  • Don’t be afraid of getting stuck in. Learn as much as you can, there’s still plenty of room for you to make your stamp.

Thank you for reading! A special thanks to our guest, Jesús. We really enjoyed hearing his insights, and hope you did too! Click here to follow him on LinkedIn!

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Allys Parsons — Conversational AI Recruiter @ Co-Founder @ techire ai