The term chatbot generates excitement not just on the technology side of the business but also among UX designers. But what exactly is the buzz? In 2011, everyone was discussing Responsive Design, but today the conversational interface is all the rage.
In essence, a Conversational user interface is more human, using Natural Language Processing (NLP), and simulates a real-life human interaction. The distinction between conventional and modern interfaces is that instructions and discussions are presented as buttons, menus, and other interaction patterns. In contrast to the conversational user interface, you directly use words and emoticons to communicate with the computer.
The interactions of the future are not just made of buttons.
What is Chatbot UX?
Even though the conversational user interface is still a novelty for many, it may provide many advantages over conventional interfaces when utilized well. In the last several years, conversational user interfaces have generated considerable interest. Organizations have rushed to chatbots as an exciting new method to interact with consumers, particularly in customer service and knowledge tools.
It is simple to see the attraction.
It would be fantastic if robots could react to written or spoken orders in a human-like manner. This possibility was initially considered science fiction. Watson from IBM has sparked a flurry of enthusiasm for more accessible user interface technology. The thought that any organization can provide clients with a "ask me anything" chatbot that does not need human supervision is enticing.
You can only imagine the savings possibilities. In principle, abandoning graphical user interfaces (GUIs) should provide more rapid, individualized, and easy interactions. This enthusiasm has produced a "gold rush"-like impact in the sector. For every imaginable encounter, businesses are rushing to develop chatbots. From buying a pizza to falling in love, we observe everything.
Create a persona for your chatbot
Always keep in mind that you are designing a chatbot with human emotions in mind. Communicating with a robot is usually tiresome. This will not attract individuals; instead, it will generate a negative experience. Ensure that the chatbots convey a personality the user may most readily identify. The emotion is your chatbot, which provides a background to the user.
Ensure users understand chatbots are not human
It is necessary to give your bot a personality, but consumers must also understand that they interact with bots, not humans. When you make your clients feel as if they don't comprehend the system, you create a negative user experience. To make your bot seem more human-like, you create artificial delays such as "is typing..."
Contrariwise, it would be best if you tinkered with the formatting of the bot messages to signal indirectly that they are not human.
Bot dialogues must maintain context and adhere to linear discussion paths. It is quite acceptable to reveal and discuss restrictions. As a designer, you must guarantee that the user's approach to their ultimate objective is not too convoluted and time-consuming. It would help if you led the consumer via straightforward options.
Provide users with alternatives for specialized inputs through exclusive buttons or carousels. Choice simplification is a crucial aspect of chatbot interface design.
Improve the user experience
The use of chatbots should not be limited to FAQ or customer support staff replacements. They should be implemented to enhance the user experience. While designing for bots, a designer should constantly consider if a human agent might perform better.
If the answer is yes, you should realize that the bots exist to replace people in tasks where they excel. The purpose of robots is to return people when they need to be more active and efficient.
Understand when to conclude a discussion
Make sure users are aware of extended dialogue. The greater the number of alleys a conversation traverses, the greater the likelihood of encountering dead ends. It is essential to include gentle phrases, such as "Oh no!" or human fallback choices, such as "Ahm, I don't believe I understand you. I am continuously learning!"
Or check the content of the structures, such as phone number and email address, before advancing; this would keep talks on course.
Keeping the context in mind
User context is an integral component of UX design components. For chatbots, it is essential to understand your user persona, just as it is for products. You may use the preset queries to maintain context. The user information and context may be refined over time, and the chatbot's responses and inquiries can be built to take the user context into account. The bot's behavior would vary based on whether the user is new or returning.
Is Chatbot UX a Good Idea?
Organizations must recognize that chatbots are but one component of the overall user experience. They should not be utilized for all purposes. The absence of a graphical user interface (GUI) is also a limitation for chatbots, which may be excellent for specific interactions. Long back-and-forth conversations may induce cognitive load (UX jargon meaning excessive thinking and memory labor) among users. Extended conversations might be pretty tedious.
However, we do not dislike chatbots. They are excellent. But they must be utilized judiciously and as part of a larger image. Under the right conditions, chatbots are beneficial. It's about employing them at the appropriate moments and locations throughout the user's trip. So when should chatbots be used instead of a GUI? To determine this, we must determine what they excel in and what they struggle with.
When Chatbots are Better Than GUI
To enable consumers to express a requirement swiftly
When creating a website or app, we often go through an Information Architecture planning process (IA). This refers to the content's organization and how the menu or navigation system should organize items.
This structure may become quite complex for more giant services with great content. On a very information-dense website, visitors may need to go through many levels of navigation to locate a given item, especially if that item is somewhat specialized. Finding a particular piece of material inside a big website's structure might be like searching for a needle in a haystack.
In such situations, a chatbot performs well. If the user can communicate their requirement as a question, the bot can respond swiftly—no need to go through a complicated navigational framework.
When a screen-based user interface is cumbersome
It is significantly simpler to begin engagement with a chatbot, whether by text or speech. The user does not have to wait for a web page to load or go to the correct portion of an application. They may initiate the discussion immediately.
Due to the nature of voice-based chatbots, they are also hands-free. This provides enormous benefits in circumstances when a screen-based user interface is inappropriate. Users may conduct a bank transfer while driving or look for a recipe while cooking with their hands dirty.
In situations like these, the advantages of chatbots become readily apparent.
To engage in more intimate, human-like conversations
This is effective when attempting to instill a feeling of empathy or comprehension in our goods. Numerous organizations and healthcare agencies are experimenting with Chatbots to provide material on sensitive topics more reassuringly.
This is a challenging task. Avoiding the "uncanny valley" effect requires a delicate balance. Robots trying too hard to imitate human emotions might seem callous and startling. However, if executed well, these personal touches help develop confidence.
Consider the Persona Synthetics chatbot created by Channel 4 to advertise the television program 'humans' as an illustration of how successful this may be. It's purely for fun, but it demonstrates the emotional impact chatbots may have.
When Chatbots are Worse Than GUI
There is a substantial possibility of a mistake
We value error-free interfaces. According to a proverb, errors are a standard indicator of poorly planned encounters at Pixel Fridge. It is feasible to build graphical interfaces that safeguard users from making mistakes. We have already discussed this "error-proof" approach to UX design. Take form design as an illustration; input fields may be formatted and organized in a graphical user interface to guarantee accurate data entering.
Unfortunately, conversational user interfaces make this more difficult. The user can say anything at any moment. Send the limitless number of different commands that may be given to the bot, and the error rate is relatively high. No matter how effective machine learning is, we can never guarantee that the user will not pose a question we do not comprehend.
Additionally, we may need more context or explicit instruction to understand something. Slang and colloquialisms further complicate this. And let's not even discuss accents and regional dialects.
Complex interactions may be a source of discomfort
Specific interactions are complex and need extensive user participation. Something that initially seems straightforward might be deceivingly tricky, necessitating much explanation between the user and the system.
Consider internet gaming as an example. Suppose a consumer wants to wager on a sports event. Instantaneously, they might instruct the chatbot interface to "make a wager on the game," and the wager would be done without complication.
But simply for this one user need, so much explication is required.
- What event do they wager on?
- On which team/player do they wager?
- How much are they willing to wager?
- What kind of wager is it? (To win or a particular score?).
- How will they settle the wager?
- Are they conversant with the terms and conditions?
And so on.
This introductory sentence has suddenly evolved into a very intricate interplay. Performing all of this through a back-and-forth discussion imposes a significant cognitive burden on the user and could be more exciting. A graphical user interface is suddenly the superior option.
They need more actual context awareness and empathy
Chatbots may simulate human emotions. They only extract keywords and phrases from the user's input and deliver a response. Whether the bot's answer is predefined or learned by AI, it is still constrained by its programming. A bot can never feel genuine empathy for a user.
Neither can a graphical user interface, but the user does not expect it to. If a chatbot interface fails to fulfill the user's request, the user may be even more disappointed.
So. Do you need to utilize a chatbot? As with everything else in our industry, the answer is the irritating cliche, "it depends." If we were to give one suggestion, it would be this. Occasionally, a mix of natural language and graphical features in a single interface might produce miraculous results.
Conversational UX is the new pillar of web technology, enabling a whole new set of creative possibilities and opportunities. This demonstrates that creative modification will never stop developing. With an increased emphasis on customer engagement and interactions with a chatbot, many firms will implement UX designs as a conversational interface. Therefore, it is essential to develop them appropriately for the intended audience.
For instance, a chatbot interface may be an integrated mini-application on your website that guides users to the correct part. The work is done through a graphical user interface, although the chatbot is available for assistance. In contrast, including forms or visual components in a chatbot experience is not harmful. Sometimes natural language isn't appropriate, and we shouldn't feel guilty if we move to a more convenient graphical interface.
To summarize: Use conversational user interfaces where appropriate. Consider them an 'additional layer' to the everyday experience rather than a substitute.