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Best Design Practices For Conversational UI

June 12, 2021 |
Blog, Design, UI Design
Conversational UI

It is a common belief among researchers that conversational AI will soon be developers’ first priority, surpassing cloud-native and mobile-first projects in importance. This will push designers to create more Conversational UI. A Conversational UI gives the privilege of interacting with the computer in human terms. It is a paradigm shift from the earlier communications achieved either by entering syntax-specific commands or clicking icons.

What is Conversational UI?

A conversational user interface (CUI) is a digital interface that allows users to interact with a product based on principles of real-life human communication. In simple terms, users don’t need to look for information in the graphical interface; they can just tell the device what to do verbally or in writing. 

The core technology used by conversational UI is Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP is a form of artificial intelligence that deals with parsing the real intent of a user’s command. Traditionally, computers understood a query or command in a programming language; but with NLP technology, they can clearly understand natural human language.

Types Of Conversational UI

1. Chatbots

Today, more and more businesses, especially in the e-commerce industry, are integrating live chatbots since they’re easier to implement than voice assistants. A chatbot is a visual interface where communication between a bot and a user is natural and is displayed in chat bubbles. Chatbots revolutionize the way online businesses interact with customers.

2. Voice Assistants

A voice assistant is an AI-based service that uses voice recognition and NLP technologies to perform a particular action in response to a voice command. Voice assistants are also bots, but they don’t use any graphical interface – only voice. 

Voice user interfaces (VUIs) operate based on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and voice recognition technologies. The technology required to create a VUI is very complex, so few companies can afford to implement voice assistants.

Best Design Practices For Creating Conversational UI

1. Determine Your Chatbot Objectives

It is easy to get excited about a new technological solution. Yes, chatbots are awesome, but you should always think about your customers and their needs first. Even the best chatbots are just tools that are meant to solve problems—not an end in themselves. You should define clear objectives and goals which chatbots can help you to accomplish. Don’t focus on the interface, but on the users.

If you own an online clothing store, don’t try to make your chatbots hold a witty conversation on recent fashion trends. Chatbots can’t improvise and will not be able to provide assistance if you don’t give them specific, simple tasks. Keep the messages focused! Chatbots can make product recommendations, offer discounts, or collect contact data. Still, don’t make them do all of these things at once during a single conversation.

2. Be Concise, Don’t Overwhelm Users

Chatbot messages should be brief and to the point. It is tempting to provide detailed answers which exhaust the topic and satisfy even the most curious customers, but reading through blocks of writing is the very opposite of having a conversation. In addition, shorter sentences are better displayed and perceived on small displays. If you need to display more text, break it into multiple messages.

Chatbots can be immersive because their conversational mode of communication is based on taking turns, receiving new messages and progressing through dialogue. When all of a sudden the user hits against a wall of text, it halts the conversation by getting things out of balance.

3. Combine Different Types Of Messages

Communication is a two-way process. You should take into consideration that conversations between a human and a machine can be difficult. If you decide to use NLP (Natural Language Processing) in your design, chatbots need to know what type of information they are receiving. 

When people become self-conscious about the way they write and try to modify their natural language to make chatbots understand them, it can quickly get out of hand and turn into a disaster. Instead of being intuitive and transparent, the interface becomes an obstacle. Make it easier by providing hints and additional questions.

4. Choose The Right Voice

When choosing a voice, give your assistant a personality that links it closely to your brand. To let customers know they’re talking to a voice assistant, many brands also give their assistant a name. This allows them to be transparent with customers while maintaining a friendly tone. Make the users feel comfortable during the conversation. You can use everyday language and informal style or go for something more reassuring and professional. The voice should reflect the values that your business embodies.

But, be careful. Chatbot messages are not similar to advertising texts. They are interactive, and users navigate through the conversation to complete specific tasks or find out about something. Remember, that in a way it is a part of your website interface and its primary function is to be easy to use. If a chatbot’s “personality” draws too much attention, it may hamper user experience and become irritating.

5. Use Non-Verbal Means To Humanize

You can humanize your chatbots by doing what people do when they chat via messaging apps. Add images, emoticons and animations to make up for the lack of gestures and face mimic. Bare text may appear dry and emotionless.

We are used to seeing GIFs and emojis when we send messages to each other – they are the emotional punctuation marks of the Internet. They can clarify the intent of a message and make it more vivid. Additionally, you can set delay periods between messages, which emulate the natural flow of a conversation with a human being. It makes your conversation design feel more organic.

To Conclude

Conversational UI design is UX Design stripped down to its bare essentials. It is all about words and the order of messages exchanged between two agents – the user and the computer. The critical part to remember is that conversational UI design refers to the dynamics of this exchange, and not only individual messages as such. For more, speak to our design experts.

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