Designing Better Chatbots

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How to Build a Superior Chatbot

The many potential uses of chatbots means that designers need to be conscious of, and pay attention to, certain aspects of design in order the maximise the effectiveness of their bot development. It is pretty clear that the most beneficial uses require a certain level of artificial or extended intelligence in order for the bot to adequately deliver the function. It also requires a sophisticated degree of understanding and interaction for the user to trust and pay attention to the directions and help given by the bot.

chatbot design

One of the most important features in this respect is that of conversation design and there are a number of guidelines and tools than can help you to design and build better Chatbots. 

  • Prototyping / Research: This is a vital part of the process as it is usually very difficult to predict how an app is going to act under user interrogation. There are two aspects to this function – establishing what your users are likely to want and expect from a bot and then testing your offering to see if it provides this. As always, user research is vital in discovering critical characteristics and developing solutions that directly affect user experience.
  • Personality / Voice: You want your bot to be engaging and maintain users’ attention. This means it needs to have a personality that your users relate to and understand. This is not just about tone but word usage, style and comprehension. You wouldn’t expect a bot aimed at young teenagers to talk in technical language or use high literary constructions, so make sure all your elements are appropriate to the audience.
  • Storytelling: One of the most effective ways of engaging and holding users is by employing storytelling in the conversation. It personalises the engagement but also adds a degree of interest and realism to the interaction which makes users feel comfortable, like they are talking to a trusted friend, which is what you should be aiming for with your chatbot. Develop little anecdotes and instances that your bot can deploy during conversation.
  • Training: It is important that your bot can learn from interactions and develop and adapt its responses to users’ needs and wants. You need to be able to test your bot’s ability to do this by engaging in targeted, purpose-built training and seeing how it responds and learns.
  • Toolkits: There are many exclusive toolkits to help in this task. Take a good look at the market and choose a product that suits your purpose or consult an expert on what you are trying to achieve and see what they recommend.
  • Conversation Flow: Think of the bots responses as you would copywriting for a creative ad. While it is important that the bot can distinguish between things like differing types of question it is also important that it has a range of answers and responses so it doesn’t get boring or repetitive. Control the conversation by directing and asking closed questions where suitable. Try to imagine the responses on the other side and construct your contribution accordingly.
  • Helping User Initiation: It might sometimes be necessary to use screen icons or other instructions to get the user up and running and confident in the system. Don’t be reluctant to do this if it aids the user experience and gets people engaged with the process. But remember it is ultimately meant to be a conversation so use it sparingly and only where essential.

These are a few tips on designing useful bots but if you would like to know more about the nuts and bolts, why not ring us on +44(0)800 024624 or email us at info@usability247.com for an initial discussion about the potential for your business.

 

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