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Chatbot design - the shortest guideline


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How to design a chatbot - a short list of useful tips, examples, and links. Useful as a quick start or a simple reminder.

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Chatbot design - the shortest guideline

  1. 1. Chatbot design The shortest guideline, April 2017
  2. 2. ● Chat apps are cool because you can immediately see if a person is present ● Chatbots are cool because they don’t require an instruction manual - it's as simple as texting
  3. 3. Designing a chatbot ● Visual design component is not a problem - it's just a list of messages ● Important thing is how it works and what is the tone of the conversation ● Designing a chatbot = analysing the communication process and predicting how it could flow
  4. 4. humanity, usability, error handling
  5. 5. “Pauses” ● Real elapsed time ≠ Elapsed time that user conceives ○ One of the core principles in designing chatbots ● Some chatbots take some time to “type the answer” (even when it can be instantly shown) ○ It’s like waiting for a real person to respond - feels more humane ● Cool examples: ○ When the bot immediately responds with “wait a minute” and then let’s you wait for a couple of seconds; it creates an illusion that it is really looking for something ○ When the typing time depends on the length of the sentence; it makes the texting more realistic ● BUT BEWARE, average user won’t wait longer than 3-5 seconds to get an answer
  6. 6. Prepared choices ● When making a chatbot, you can (and you should) create a menu with a limited number of choices ○ It eliminates errors, simplifies and speeds up the process ○ Example: Viber bots “Order lunch” and “Laptop Friendly” have nice menus ● But chatbot should not act like a robot ○ “Please select an option below:“ VS “What would you like to eat?“
  7. 7. Error handling ● Error messages shouldn’t just be a dead end ● Error messages should be something that offers you options ○ “I didn’t understand that. Did you maybe want to: Place an order (option A) or Change delivery address (option B)” ● But never just: “I don’t understand” ○ “Sorry I can’t help you” - means nothing to the user; after a few unsuccessful attempts, he’ll stop using the bot... ○ “I see that you are frustrated. Can we try a different approach? Send an email at the” - more humane approach; good practice if offering choices is not possible
  8. 8. Humanity ● “You seem familiar, have we met?” - a chatbot on a website, that detects that you have already visited that site ● “Calling my friends at the airport...” - a chatbot for flight reservations uses this sentence before a pause ● “ :P Shall we try again?” - after a user insulted a chatbot ● “Should we deliver on the same address as yesterday?” - a chatbot for food delivery; with the simple prepared choices: YES/NO
  9. 9. ● It’s nice and useful to implement autocomplete ● Images are great if they make sense ○ Don’t just put images for the sake of images - it could make interface more complicated for no reason ● It’s great if the chatbot is funny… just not too funny… it still has to be usable enough ● Don’t exaggerate with the emojis! :) :P Details...
  10. 10. Useful links ● Chatbots: Start here! ● Botlist ● The best links to get started with Conversational UI and chatbots ● Chatbots magazine ○ What Are The Best Intelligent Chatbots or AI Chatbots Available Online? ● Nice examples: ○ UX Chat ○ Adrian Zumbrunnen (portfolio website)