The Era of Conversational Interfaces
Conversational interfaces are the new hot topic in product design. And for the last months we've been witnessing the sudden exploision of conversational UI based applications. ProductHunt and other websites are heralding the rise of
Conversational interfaces are the new hot topic in product design. And for the last months we’ve been witnessing the sudden exploision of conversational UI based applications. ProductHunt and other websites are heralding the rise of bots and conversational interface.
What is a conversational interface?
Well, the origins of conversational UI can be traced back to command line interfaces in terminal programs from 60’s. Since then they’ve developed greatly. The basic idea of a conversational UI is to create a natural exchange, a conversation between the user and the program in order to do something. The usability of this UIs is much greater than any other graphical user interface available. Why? Simply because it resembles our natural interactions with other people. The rise of mobile devices and messaging platforms like Slack and Telegram accellerates the growth of bots market. We have become familiar and confident messaging and chatting on our smartphones and we want to control other applications in the same conversational manner.
Designing a Bot
Although bots don’t have their own GUI there still is a UI – the conversational UI. Popular bots utilize a mix of conversational UI and the existing interface of the messaging platform. Text and emojies usually build the whole interface. Very limited but at the same time UX friendly from the start. So what matters when it comes to chatbot designing? The answer is personality. Although when we use bots we’re completely aware they are just programs, we like them to be more human-like. We don’t feel as much drawned to a conversation with a bot when it simply feels and behaves like a robot. One important thing about chatbot personality is the language it uses.
Copywriting matters. Keeping the user’s best interests in mind, add copy that would make your bot more of an obedient servant with additional copy that will make the user smile.
Remember that an annoying or intrusive bot won’t be sth users will be willing to stand. Plus it’s much easier to remove a bot from your friends list than another human being.
When working on our AI based travel solution – HalfwayBot we decided to put emphasis on making the best out of Slack’s interface. The formatting of our bot’s messages makes it easier to read and understand the flights results HalfwayBot finds for Slack teammates. When Slack announced a new feature – slack buttons – we immediately introduced it to our own bot. Slack buttons make it even more intuitive to use especially with progressively evolving responses. Slack API is superfast, and so is our HalfwayBot. That may seem great but even the fastest typists don’t type that fast. So we added another feature Slack provides – typing simulation. It gives users an impresion that there is a person on the other side. Most of the bots available on Slack embrace the power of /commands. We decided to make one step further and instead of making hard to remember command structures, we moved straight to conversation. Of course at this point HalfwayApp is not a supercomputer yet but it tries best to understand natural language. Go ahead and have a chit-chat with HalfwayBot on Slack now 😉