When you hear the word architect what comes to mind? You probably think of a busy construction site bustling with workers. The site is full of building blocks and bricks and the crew is working to place one block on top of the other. Or maybe you’re quite technical and the first thing that comes to mind is a complex tech stack full of intricacies and loopholes. A conversational architect is someone that uses the individual messages within a conversation as building blocks to create an engaging digital experience.
Why would I need a conversational architect?
Before we even begin to think about designing and building a conversation, let’s take a few steps back. What is it that wows you about speaking with a chatbot? Are the subtle jokes and pleasantries enough for you to order your next Starbucks Latte on Facebook Messenger or via the Google Assistant? Often times, these things are just the cherry on top. The heart and soul of a conversation is it’s structure.
Step 1: You begin to engage with the coffee assistant.
Step 2: The coffee assistant asks what you would like
Step 3: You request a caramel iced latte
Step 4: The assistant asks what size?
Step 5: You respond “Large”
Step 6: The assistant asks which location you’d like to pick your drink up from
Step 7: You select your saved location
Step 8: The assistant confirms your order and lets you know it will be ready in 10-12 minutes.
Amazing right? This interaction felt so natural. It flowed. It was what the user expected and desired. This was what some may refer to as the “Happy Path”. What would happen if the steps were rearranged and Step 8 immediately followed Step 3? You’d probably feel lost and confused. You’re unsure that the coffee assistant actually knew what you intended.
This is where the work of a conversational architect comes into play. The explore all of the different paths, flows, and avenues a conversation may take. Through vigorous user research and close collaboration with the development team, a conversational architect can craft a well-rounded interaction.
What does a conversational architect do?
Conversational architects are skilled in identifying the best moments to push sound cues, ask for confirmation or make decisions. These skilled professionals studying the human language and work with linguists, speech engineers, and product designers to bring natural human speech patterns to non-human devices and platforms.
According to Google, “Research has shown that people respond to technology as they would to another human. This means users rely on their existing model of human-to-human conversation and follow the Cooperative Principle even when interacting with the persona of a conversational user interface, and they expect your persona to follow it, too.”
Conversational architects are skilled experts on all things conversation and are responsible for crafting conversation for both chatbots and voice assistants. They can use conversation design tools like Botsociety to assist.
Also published on Medium.