Chat design is one of those things that may not become important until you’re having a conversation with someone that is not real. It’s happened to many of us. We log online hoping to chat with a representative from a company we are doing business with. In our heads, we are saving time. What happens when the bot you’re talking to sends you in circles? You’re trying to engage in the conversation naturally but something is broken.
Chat design is the art of designing chat conversations in a way that provides the best experience for the user.
Is Chat Design important?
You don’t realize the true value in chat design until you experience something broken. I’m sure many of you may have seen the popular meme where a financial institution responds to a customer reaching out to open a case by exclaiming “Great!”. This tells us that the company did not think of the way the user may be feeling, and this is one of the most important things to remember in chat design.
Users need to trust your conversational agent. You want the user to feel safe in providing you with their precious information. You want them to feel as if they are being guided to a solution and that by answering a few of your questions, the journey there will be smooth. Thing deeply about your user. Who are they? What do they enjoy? How do they communicate with friends, family and colleagues? These are things you want to remember and take into account when approaching chat design for the first time.
Creating a Chat Design
There are lots of different solutions available to help a designer craft the ideal conversation. A few years ago, designers we’re utilizing things like excel spreadsheets and flowchart software to replicate the flow of a conversation. At it’s core, a conversation revolves around it’s structure. Sometimes the “when” is much more important than the “what”. To visualize and create these chatbots designers needed to think about all of the different ways a conversation can flow. It was complex and very easy to get lost in your work.
Modern solutions have become available that make the process much easier. Helpful tools like Botsociety provides powerful chat design features like Real-Time Collaboration, Clipboard, and the intuitive drag and drop that designers have come to know and love. Tools like Botsociety make it simple to focus on the dialogue of the conversation without worrying about destroying or breaking the structure.
Wizard of Oz Testing your Chat Design
Once you’ve completed a chat design, chances are you’re going to want to try it out before wasting time in development on what may be a potentially broke product. Wizard of oz testing is very popular with conversation designers because makes identifying conversation breaks that much easier. Find a few friends and co-workers that will be willing to try to break your conversation. Here’s a cool video which shows exactly how it’s done.
Also published on Medium.