conversational apps ux best practices

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Some best practices for Conversational appsMatthieu VaragnatJune 8, 2016

Does your business need it?Dont get caught in the hypeBest practice n1:Understand what are conv apps can and cannot (shouldnt) do

August 2015

Now ?

Does your business need it?Why choosing a conversational app?Great at early stage (cheaper and faster than mobile app)Awesome format for pre-sales or supportEmotional link through conversationCan reduce cognitive load.

Choose the right type of appRanked by increasing technical complexityNotifications (FROM external service)Commands (TO external service)Onboarder / Form bot (then operator takes over)Hybrid bot/human (operator takes over if needed)1-1 chatbot (personal assistant)Chatbot within group/teams

Choose the right platformBtC (Messenger, Telegram, Kik)BtB (Slack)SMSWeb widget or in-app

Cognitive loadBest practice n2: improve cognitive ergonomicsFriction: number of clicks, apps switching, copy paste, Reduce cognitive load = great conversation appCognitive Efficiency is a measure of how much cognitive effort is saved through the interface.

For example, compare alternatives to getting calendar information for something 2 weeks away. In the first, a user has to exit a messaging platform, open a calendar, scroll to the right day, and find the event on the calendar. In the second example, a user can ask, right from a messaging platform, a question about the day, or the event, thus saving several steps.

Rob May

Cognitive load

pull analytics graphs within a Slack conversation with a Request ride button from within a conversation with friends

Cognitive loadpainfully explain what would have taken a click on a list of pics



Cognitive loadImage & gesture based apps+ UX can be more fluid- Need to switch apps- Need to download appText-based bots+ Embedded in conversations+ Existing apps- No visual cues (affordance)

How to reduce cognitive load?Some ideasBest: Use images, buttons or structured inputsBetter: Provide clear choices (Say Black or White please)Good: Provide clear indication on how to input informationBook tickets for tomorrowCan you tell me which show? You can say things like The Avengers at 8pm

Limit scopeBest practice n3: focus on a well-defined problemFor now, the best bots are dumb, ultra-focused botsSimplification reduces confusion for usersFocus helps the bot deliver value

Limit scopeHelps answering critical design questions:What can I ask about? What options do I have?Avoid complicated design of conversation paths & NLP parsingBook room at 4pmvsCan you help me organize the meeting?

OnboardingHi, Im your new bot!Hmmm Hi?Im sorry, I didnt understandAlright, how do I uninstall this

OnboardingBest practice n4: Great onboarding is crucialSuggest commandsBrief configuration stepsGo quickly to value-delivering stepDo not leave user with a hi and a white page

CommandsBest practice n5: support standard commandsHelpMenuFeedback

Validate input

Hi, Im your new bot!Hmmm Hi?Change destinationBook FlightProvide escape routesWhere do you want to go?ParisI got Paris, Texas. Should I book a flight?

Allow reaching a humanProvide escape routesTalk to supportChange my locationHelpSay Movies to know whats playing in nearby theaters

ContentBest practice n6: The content is the UI. Craft it with careFind a tone. Robotic or friendly? BASAAP: Be as Smart as a PuppyMaking smart things that dont try to be too smart and fail, and indeed, by design, make endearing failures in their attempts to learn and improve. Like puppies.

Attention to contentGood writing skills will be sought afterAvoid almost-human uncanney valleyAvoid walls of textLimit notification frequency (high relevance ratio)

Consider AI/NLP carefully100%HumanFluidify



SummaryUnderstand what are conv apps can and cannot (shouldnt) doImprove cognitive ergonomicsFocus on a well-defined problemGreat onboarding is crucialSupport standard commandsThe content is the UI. Craft it with care

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