Any traveler, translator, or coder can tell you that the importance of language. Ideas, information, and systems are communicated with language unique to the users involved. Chatbots are no different, and the language your chatbot must be speaking revolves around Chatbot UI design.
Chatbots were designed to be a digital interface utilizing AI to create a humanized experience for every client and customer who engages with your company. The hallmark of any language is how comfortably it can communicate ideas with varying complexity—as such the quality of your chatbot is how well it receives and relays information to its users.
Designing a great chatbot is a process guided by certain principles. This article will cover a few of the UI design qualities that make up a great chatbot and a great user experience.
Learn Your Platform
Chatbots have the versatility of being designed native to an existing platform, or from scratch for a website or app. Building a chatbot from scratch has a few advantages: for starters, being able to customize everything from color palette, to font, to custom buttons is the best way to form a customized brand experience and have full control over your brand messaging. Alternatively, companies may opt to use built-in chatbots in interfaces like Facebook Messenger, Kik, or Slack, where they can customize the existing platform elements. If going this route, it’s essential to learn the limitations and capabilities of the platform in use, such as the character limit in Facebook Messenger’s native chatbot
Designate the Purpose of Your Bot
Is your bot designed to answer health questions? Suggest new recipes? Help navigate your website? Just like different languages serve different regions and therefore different purposes, your chatbot must be designed to serve the specific purpose of your company and its desired engagement. Having a qualified UX Designer is especially helpful in this process, as they can identify the core purpose of your bot and reference it consistently while building the chatbot experience.
If you get stuck at this part of the process, fret not: your bot’s purpose can change and evolve over time in response to user feedback. For example, your first iteration of a bot may be to help users navigate your site, but through user feedback, you may discover that your bot’s greatest function is to give product suggestions that can save your users valuable time and energy.
Establish Your Voice or Tone
Above everything, your chatbot is a conversation for your customers. And just like the English language has different tones to communicate contextual nuances (formal tone is used in job application and academic research papers, for example, while conversational tone may be used in entertainment magazines), chatbots must have an established tone to communicate to users the type of relationship they are to have with the chatbot. For example, a medical advice website may choose to have a relaxed, formal tone to communicate that their chatbot is a friendly expert or thought leader. Conversely, a fashion website may choose to have an informal, friendly tone to create the feeling that a user is browsing with a trusted friend.
Choosing your tone must be based on research: who is your ideal customer and how will they be engaging in your product or service? Establishing your voice with your chatbot is a crucial element in solidifying your brand messaging.
Plan for Miscommunication in Chatbot UI Design
Like every language, sometimes words with chatbots have double meanings or ambiguous interpretations. This is natural, like misunderstandings between texts with friends. A well-designed chatbot will anticipate these misunderstandings, and route the conversation back to a solution-focused exchange.
As you can imagine, this process may be tedious and time-consuming, but the result is a sophisticated, seamless experience for your ideal customer, and increased brand loyalty for your company. Exploring chatbot UI design isn’t rocket science, but it certainly is science. With proper research, planning, execution, and a responsive feedback loop, you’ll be able to create a scalable user experience that adds tremendous value to your inbound and outbound marketing strategy.
Also published on Medium.