A lot can happen in a year, and 2020 is no exception. Looking back on the past twelve months, teams have gone remote, collaboration has been redefined, and creativity & design have taken on a new life with new constraints. Despite these changes, Voiceflow and its community has grown stronger – and that strength is what gets the team and I excited for what's to come in 2021 and beyond.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, it's important to look back – so with that, here are some of our favourite milestones for Voiceflow & its community in 2020.
In January, the Voiceflow team attended Project Voice in Tennessee and was proud to win Voice Tool of the Year 2020. While there, we were able to meet hundreds of fellow Flowsters at our Voiceflow social night.
February was a big month for Voiceflow as we released a significant redesign for Editors, which included a new intents structure and dialogue management.
Voiceflow's team spread across 3 (now 5) countries, and for the first time, we flew the entire team to Toronto for our annual offsite.
Voiceflow was nominated for the Audio and Voice award on ProductHunt this year, coming second to Descript. Thanks to everyone who voted for us.
In April, we ditched the "colorful blocks" that Voiceflow had become known for in favor of a new blocks system that allowed for more readable, professional designs.
The COVID lockdown came into full effect in April, as shown by the 100% growth in Alexa Skill usage as much of the world bunkered at home and wondered what their Alexas could do (below is our hosting data).
The Voiceflow team went fully remote at this time and have since shifted our in-person social nights to competitive pancake bake-offs and games of Among Us (not a great trust-building exercise).
We launched our brand new tutorial series voiced by our very own Mark Ammendolia.
Fun fact — I've heard customers more than once mention Mark's tutorial voice is "dreamy," which is undoubtedly the effect we had hoped for when teaching context modelling concepts.
June was the month of CxD enhancements as we introduced non-linear design (Prompt step) and escalating reprompts to help customers design with best practices even easier.
Canvas Markup is a game-changing feature that makes designs more readable and allows Voiceflow to be the single source of truth for Conversation Designs.
Commenting allows for asynchronous collaboration amongst teammates, which in the age of COVID has proven incredibly helpful for our customers.
We partnered with Alexa to build a new APL-A integration, which we were fortunate to launch during the Alexa Live keynote alongside our friends at Creativity Inc.
Certainly, a highlight for me this year was getting to "read" and review the Voiceflow & VUI book written entirely by our Japanese user group. Building a community and seeing the incredible connections made within it has truly been a humbling and inspiring experience. Seeing a group of creators come together to write a book on Voiceflow was something that I could never have predicted.
We announced our new Google Actions Console integration that we had built in partnership with Google during their Assistant Developer Day keynote.
Thanks to our partners at Google for inviting us!
Voiceflow Enterprise continues to grow as larger organizations centralize their conversational product teams to manage multiple channels. Because of this, we launched several key features to bolster our enterprise offering and are excited to keep building in 2021.
This past month we launched our new navbar, which emphasizes the ability to share and test rapidly. Further, we introduced new navigation controls making it easier to test, especially the Wizard of Oz test.
Lastly, we also launched the .VF file, which makes it easy to share your designs locally, similar to a .Sketch or .Fig file.
This year, we focused on two themes that guided our product decisions through 2020: enhancing team workflow and supporting new use cases through channel expansion. Thanks to the work we did this year to lay a technical foundation, we'll be able to continue focusing on these two areas with far more significant effect in 2021.
Throughout 2021 you can expect more team workflow focused features as we aim to make it easier for teams to create great conversations.
We started 2020, supporting only Alexa and Google with out-of-the-box integrations. However, our vision has always been the industry-standard tool for designing, prototyping, and ultimately launching the best conversational experiences.
After one full year of architecting, refactoring, and engineering— we completed the Voiceflow SDK, allowing customers (in beta) to connect Voiceflow to any conversational platform with any tech stack. In early-mid 2021 we plan to roll-out the Voiceflow's SDK to our entire userbase.
Some use cases that customers (in beta) have unlocked with our new SDK:
For many, myself included, this has been the most challenging year of our lives for our physical and mental health. While this post featured the highlights, the Voiceflow team has certainly had our share of lowlights this year, both personally and professionally.
If there's one thing that the 2020 rollercoaster taught us, it is to be thankful. Looking back on this year, I'm grateful for a team that challenges & supports the product and me every day and in awe of the incredible community of Voiceflow designers around the world. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't feel fortunate to work on a platform that impacts so many creatives in their everyday life. And for that, I want to thank you.
Thank you for building with us, have a safe & happy holiday season – we'll see you in 2021.
– Braden & the Voiceflow Team
In this edition of the VF newsletter: commenting, invite collaborators by link, UX updates, how to build an IVR, and much more.
Taking a look at some of the more nuanced challenges that conversation design teams are addressing when building conversational products.