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Show me something nice! On making buying suggestions


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This is a case study of 3 projects with a seemingly trivial task in common: how do we show users meaningful suggestions of what they can buy in a web store without knowing much about them?

The first project is about us struggling to design meaningful suggestions using conventional patterns. In the second, we shifted to a conversational UI and saw its mechanics change the dynamics of interaction. In the third project, we had an epiphany where it became apparent just how much designing conversational UIs is tied to understanding language, speech acts and the psychology of human behaviour.

We will look at how much conversational UIs differ from traditional UIs, like steppers or forms, and what makes them better - or worse. We'll look at how the conversations can be prototyped and how speech act theory can help us in designing better interfaces.

A good part of the session will be spent with Bobby, the chatbot we created to help users find the perfect gift, and with the psychology behind the bot. Apart from the chatbot itself, we we also made a prototyping tool to help us design the conversations.

Published in: Design
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Show me something nice! On making buying suggestions

  1. 1. Show me something nice! Memi Beltrame
  2. 2. Memi Beltrame I make things fun and easy to use.
  3. 3.
  4. 4. Show me something nice! 3 studies on making buying suggestions
  5. 5. Based on my behaviour and that of users watching similar things
  6. 6. Not all sites have 
 that kind of data
  7. 7. Let’s look at suggestions on starting pages
  8. 8. Are these meaningful & relevant suggestions?
  9. 9. New Seasonal SeasonalNew Are these meaningful & relevant suggestions? Deals Random Deals Brands Random
  10. 10. New Seasonal SeasonalNew Maybe in terms of how their business is structured Deals Random Deals Brands Random
  11. 11. Can we make 
 meaningful & relevant suggestions? If so: How?
  12. 12. figuring out Taste
  13. 13. Test 1: Endless Stream of Random Stuff Focus on Discovery
  14. 14. User feedback:
 Why are you showing me this? It’s great to browse but what has this to with me?
  15. 15. Favorites Bought Sold last items similar Other suggestions Irrelevance
  16. 16. UX trivia #1 Users don’t care about things they don’t care about
  17. 17. Test 2: User Groups For All Mamas & Papas Geeks Gourmets Collectors Fashionistas Gardeners Hunters Home Improvers Runners & Hikers ✕ close
  18. 18. User Groups Users often can’t see 
 themselves in a group "Where are the normal people?"

  19. 19. User Groups Users don’t want to be reduced to a group. "What happens if I choose one? Will I miss out on the others?"

  20. 20. Test 3: Configuration
  21. 21. Configuration Users welcome it but will not use it. "It’s interesting but I can’t be bothered."

  22. 22. How people make major purchases
  23. 23. How do people buy a car or a house?
  24. 24. Phase I Phase II Phase III Discovering Learning Hunting Questions • What do I need? • What is the offer? • What matches my needs? • What is a good offer? • What do I have to expect? • Is this a good offer? Activities • Research • First Search • Discovery • Comparing • Collecting • Test Driving (Does this model match?) • Playing Around • Observing • Test Driving (Does this car match?) • Deciding Knowledge Basic Needs • Exclusion Criteria • Range Spektrum • Awareness of Criteria • Knowing exact needs • Clarity • Ability to make a decision to buy 3 Buying Phases
  25. 25. Entry points for different phases What’s your type of car? Don’t know what car you should be looking for?
 Answer a few questions and get suggestions to get you started . Start wizard 1 2 New entries for your saved searches Family Car 5 Seats, Station Wagon, Max Price 15’000, Max Milage 20’000km 3
  26. 26. Help users to discover their basic needs SuggestionsUsagePurposeBudgetStowageSeats How much stowage space do you need? Just for groceries For a trip for two We’re a large family I often move stuff
  27. 27. Make suggestions to get the users going Our suggestions to get you going Seats Stowage Budget Purpose Usage Suggestions
  28. 28. Switching to conversational ui
  29. 29. Mobile The "chatbots are better steppers" assumption
  30. 30. Stepper vs Chatbot
 • Users engaged with the chatbot • were quicker in going through the steps • Found the interaction natural • but preferred the stepper over the chatbot
  31. 31. The Power of Decision Trees Just translating the stepper to a chatbot leaves out all the possibilities conversational interfaces offer.
  32. 32. Human vs Bot Using Photos is misleading.
 Users want to know who they’re talking to
  33. 33. Making the conversation feel natural 
 Adding hesitation markers ("fake writing") makes the conversation more realistic.
  34. 34. Making the conversation feel natural Following the pattern of Turn-taking: - Pick up the thread (response) - Move along (follow-up)
  35. 35. Hesitation marker Response &
 Hesitation marker Follow-up Response structure
  36. 36. Finding out how users tick
  37. 37. Cambridge Analytica
  38. 38. Article in the Tages-Anzeiger Magazine: Article on Nieman Lab:
  39. 39. Ocean Model The Big Five Five broad dimensions used to describe the human personality and psyche.
  40. 40. Ocean Model The Big Five Openness Conscientiousness Extraversion Agreableness Neuroticism

  41. 41. Ocean Model The Big Five Personality Trait High Scorers Low Scorers Openness Imaginative Conventional Conscientiousness Organized Spontaneous Extraversion Outgoing Solitary Agreableness Trusting Competitive Neuroticism
 Prone to 
 stress & worry Emotionally stable
  42. 42. Ocean Model What’s the point of it? If you can describe a personality you can respond to their impulses, fears, sense of duty etc.
  43. 43. Be responsible and don’t misuse it.
  44. 44. Don’t be like this Asshole
  45. 45. Last Christmas
  46. 46. How to find the perfect present.
  47. 47. Of course there is a button labelled Weirder!
  48. 48. Personality Trait High Scorers Even Low Scorers Openness Imaginative Conventional Conscientiousness Organized Spontaneous Extraversion Outgoing Solitary Agreableness Trusting Competitive Neuroticism
 Prone to 
 stress & worry Emotionally 
 stable What personality does this product reflect?
  49. 49. Feedback: Users liked how well the gift matched most of the time.
 And the weirder button. Overwhelming
  50. 50. Thank you! I’m @bratwurstkomet on Twitter Prototypes made with Protostrap