Chatbots are the rage, but we are in the early days. We are still not sure about how best to design for bots. Yes, while conversational interfaces have promised to redefine the User Experience, the challenge facing us is to identify the right Use Cases and the appropriate design. After reviewing the nascent literature on this, talking to customer end users, and based on our own experience of building chatbots for enterprise systems, here are 3 ideas for Designing for Chatbots:
- Minimize Input: The user experience should be the priority. Expecting users to enter free text has the potential for failure. Instead, it may be best to have users give structured input. For example, our developers at Unvired have designed a Command Infrastructure that eliminates lengthy free text input. For example, Users can select Approve or Reject a Purchase Order in SAP or View Sales order from Oracle EBS with a Get Order Details simple chat command.
- Hybrid Approach: In some cases, the user may want to talk to a human at some point in the conversation with the bot. Good design should enable a human to jump in at any time. Say, for example, you are ordering flowers on Facebook Messenger using a chatbot, but are frustrated because you cannot find what you are looking for. There should be a way out to reach out to a human.
- Simple: The design for chatbots should be simple. One of the advantages of bots is that the need for say, a 3 screen application is eliminated. There is no GUI. Bots interactions should be kept simple and short—the user should give minimal input, and receive the output.
Let me know if you have other ideas for designing for bots. These are early days, and we can all learn from each other.