“Conversational interfaces” is one the newest trend in digital product design. In fact, big companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook are strongly focusing on this trend. This is because mostly people like to interact with each other through conversation. Through conversational interface, they can chat naturally with a real human. Conversational interface design demands a fundamental shift in approach to design-less focus on visual design and more focus on words. If you are a web designer who likes to know how to create a good conversational UI design, you can follow a set of principles below that will be relevant both for chatbots and voice-controlled assistants.
- Clear Flow
Making your conversation flow naturally and efficiently is one of the most challenging parts when designing a system with good conversational interface. Moreover, minimizing user’s effort to communicate with the system is also one of the biggest issues when it comes to creating conversational interface. Below are some points that you have to watch carefully.
Defining the Purpose of the System
Instead of designing all of your system all at once, it will be better to create a specialized, purpose-driven chatbot/voice assistant to engage with your target audience. Besides, it is also important to anticipate users’ needs and offer the right solutions with minimum user input. If you are not sure about the purpose of your system, you can answer the following question.
- What user/customer problem will it solve efficiently?
- How will it benefit the target audience and you?
In fact, with graphical interfaces, you can see the limited options it is capable to fulfill. However, with conversational interfaces, the paths that the user can take are virtually infinite. That is why most frequently asked questions are:
- “how can I use it?”
- “what exactly can this thing do for me?”
Unless you tell users, they won’t know that some functionality exist, therefore you need to guide them to start the conversation by telling them to how/where to start and how the conversational interface can help them. For example, you can start with a quick introduction and a straightforward call to action when you design a chatbot.
Avoid Asking Open-Ended and Rhetorical Questions
There are two types of questions:
- Closed-ended question (e.g. what color shirt are you wearing?)
- Open-ended question (e.g. Why did you choose this color for your shirt?)
- User Control
Another important principle is that users need to feel in control instead of feeling controlled by your product. Therefore, you need to consider creating a design that can make the user feel in control. Below are some tips to follow:
Provide Undo and Cancel
Sometimes users choose system functions by mistake; therefore they need an “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state. In fact, a standard GUI allows you to refine inputted data easily when processing it. Conversational interfaces should provide the same feature: neither conversation interfaces nor humans are perfect, so undo and cancel are essential functionalities for a smooth experience.
Make It Possible to Start Over
Make it easy for user to reset the conversation at any time during the interaction.
Confirm by Asking, Not Stating
To eliminate error-prone conditions, you need to repeat and get a confirmation from users after they provide an input. You can correct your input by formulating confirmations as questions.
- When the answer is valid, you can repeat it to ensure that everything is correct, and then move on to the next step.
- But, you may need to explain again what kind of answer you need, if the inputted data isn’t valid.
Provide Help and Assistance
Don’t forget to add help messages and suggestions to aid users when they are lost.
The last thing is to keep the conversation sound natural, here are some of the ways:
Humanize the Conversation
Avoid talking like a robot as nobody likes it. In fact, you should make it like if you were actually speaking to a person and be sure to design a system with vocabulary that your target customers are familiar with
Be Concise and Succinct
Avoid using long sentences, as people usually speak using single short sentences. Asking multiple questions at once is also not a good strategy. In fact, you better proceed to the next thing, once you get the right information.