We’ve been building chatbots for sometime and know just how difficult an enterprise bot can be to design, build, deploy and maintain. We put this post together to help non-technical readers understand some of the visual features that help create a great chatbot experience.
After you have figured out a use case for the bot and which messaging platform to use, next you should consider the experience you want for users. When we talk to customers about building bots we tell them up-front that a bot can be made with three approaches in mind:
We built our own solution as well which we called ACE (Azumo Chatbot Engine). The solution enabled us to build more robust chatbots more quickly. We've used it to build chatbots for Discovery Channel, Wine Enthusiasts and Coppola Winery and many others. Most of those chatbots were designed for Alexa and Google Assistant. We used ACE to also build for Facebook Messenger and other apps as well as the web.
In fairness we do not like building scripted chatbots. They break easily and bore the user. Unfortunately they are easy to build and many developers pushed these fragile snowflakes onto customers.
To make them work well however, a good scripted bot experience is one where the designer and development team have spent not only a lot of time thinking through the voice of the bot but also the type of questions they anticipate the user will have. In many cases, a rules based bot will run like a decision tree where each action by the user prompts the bot to take action or respond.
Depending on the use case this could be perhaps 10-20 lines of scripted text to hundreds of lines of scripting. In one scripted experience, we wrote over 500 lines of script to handle just a small set of use cases where NLP would not be a good substitute. Many bot developers creating scripted experiences for entertainment purposes will see their scripts grow to thousands of lines.
Many bots use graphical elements like cards, buttons or quick replies as part of the design flow. When thinking about using these elements, you must know that messaging platform you decide to deploy your bot on plays a key role in terms of design choices.
Cards and buttons require graphical images which some messaging platforms do not or cannot support. For example if you wanted to build a bot for SMS/texting, you won’t have access to cards or buttons. But if you were building for Facebook Messenger or a web interface you would be able to take advantage of these options and more.
Here’s a quick snapshot of elements you can use for your bot:
These are just a selection of popular elements that can be embedded into a bot experience. And while you can employ many or all of these on some platforms, it’s best to try to pick the option that is right for the moment. If not, you could run into a very cluttered and confusing experience for the user. After-all the bots’ purpose is to make the user’s life simpler.
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