Progressing From Just UI To Conversational UI

As a user what do you need? Perhaps Quality first and relief second.

Earlier we used to stand in queues to get our work done; this got transformed, and we switched to firing up the desktop PCs to get the work done and then came the handy smartphones or handheld devices that did the work for us. Now just imagine that all you need to do is not to even have to fire your laptop or pick up your phone just to give command your majesty.

Seems quite mystical, though! But is indeed possible.

Everything is simply great about technology, yeah, I mean we have no qualms with the way how things are shaping up. But there is one thing which will always remain is that no matter how intuitive design interfaces we make technology cannot provide you services like a real service provider.

The essence of web design is that it is always fleeting. There is no stagnation, even the hangover of mobile devices was not over as yet, and there came wearables. Likewise, when it comes to rendering the interface experience earlier we had simple graphic designs, but as the competition got feistier we switched to markup conversion and then there was a great debate about user experience vs. user interface.

Now that the debate has lingered on for a while, we were anticipating for something new to come.

It’s like that I am getting a deja vu and here it’s we have got the latest conversational UI. Conversational UI is the next phase where user interfaces where designers render a conversation between apps and the users.

What’s next? Why can’t we just go for Manification of technology?

(Well well.. I just coined a new word.)

Manification means that whenever we access a mobile app or web app, we feel as if we are not accessing any software or talking to a bot, but a human is attending us.

Why will we no more design user interface?

Well, this might sound blasphemous to the designing fraternity, that after all this fuss about user interfaces and user experience how can we just say that we do not need user interfaces at all. Well by designing user interfaces, giving choices and buttons we have portrayed ourselves as a restricted service provider. Wherein you cannot categorize or limit the way users depict how a user will express.

So what do we do now?

Shall we switch from making websites to making robots and cater our users a personal assistant.

Moreover, this has also been attested by Oxford University that robots will replace half of the workers in the US in about two decades or so. Well, not exactly robots, but yes new interfaces which are no longer constrained to depicting few controls.

Designing an interface is like depicting a story and developing a fully functional robot like interfaces will certainly need more efforts.

Let’s see how will we go about this whole new Conversational UI stuff.

Conversational UI ends the era of Photoshop

A thought worth pondering. What will it feel like not to design the user interface of your application? You do not get to choose the style, colors, typography of your website. Moreover, you need to stick to the rules of others as most of the time you will feature on their website.

What if you do have an interface at all in all your platform is voice-controlled.

There might be cases that there will be no design interfaces at all, and your system needs only offers voice interface.

Apparently it might seem to you to quite an easy situation, but it is not as easy as it appears to be. You might be thinking that all the hassle of designing such as picking the right color scheme, placing the objects and functionalities will no longer be a hurdle. Well, now you need to make all your functionalities visible through words which are all the more difficult thing to do. Further, you need to pick your words quite cautiously and make sure that you are speak and the tone of your speech when you are in communication with your users.

Words have this great power to hurt or heal, so you need to use them quite carefully as all you have words to express your web site no backup of images.

All the design theories and cognitive analysis have in gone as they are not longer applicable as now we have switched to conversational UI. Which means that we used to look Photoshop as the undisputed king no longer has a foothold as now you need to carve your storyline to reach the users.

This is certainly not a welcoming news for those who rejoiced working with HTML, CSS and JavaScripts and goof for those who detested working on them.

All you now need is text editor to write the logic and script to incorporate manification of your website. Perhaps you might need tools such as Twine to find out any ups and downs.

Apart from this, we have tools and libraries that are required for coding bots such for managing the language, Botkit integrates with Slack platforms and to host we have Beep Boop.

How to begin with?

When it comes to design one can easily understand what the designer wants to communicate or what the app is all about. But what happens there is no interface to depict what you to say. What an impression will the users get when they will first land on your website. A blank screen appears, but it do not comprise of any controls that we get on all the websites. All you get is a two to three controls for menu, setting and power button to initiate something else.

It is like being in the matrix and all you have a voice to guide you through the doors to take you to another level. This means you need first to introduce yourself to the users so that they do not feel lost and abandoned in a vast pasture. Thus, make sure to inform the users that you are there for them. Do not give a lengthy speech rather keep it simple and crisp and try to give the complete description in one or two lines.

When you apply conversational UI you need to remember that you will get two types of users:

  • One those who do not have any idea to go forward with the app
  • Another who think that the app can do anything for them

This means you need to tackle both the users by guiding them through to all the pages efficiently.

When any user asks you to do something bizarre for you, then make sure you tell them that what are you and what you can do for them.

Do not just display a blank screen:

Discoverability is an important factor which comes into play while designing GUI for an app. Now for those who know that their users are familiar with their app can portray whatever they want.

So if someone is new to any app, then you need to make sure all the options and icons are quite clear.

This is quite easy for the users to carry on the task as these little icons elucidate why are they placed and if you think that these icons are not enough to explain you then you can place some overriding content onto it which is displayed when the user places the mouse over it. This helps them to get to know the notifications the received when they were not using their smartphone.

However conversing with a robot implies just to gaze at a blank screen. Moreover, it becomes the responsibility of the robot to keep a check on all the opportunities and make sure that all the display features that are not related.

Use your contacts or potential users that whether they will be comfortable with working with the robots and ask them the task they would suggest the robots. Then you need to give a very clear and descriptive version of the records and what is the task of the robot and what will he do to complete the task.

You can further move forward to next steps and can explain the users from where they can get help, for example, tell them the whole FAQ page or the complete manual.

After the introduction make sure that you take your training to a progressive level. After completing a successful interaction you can simmer down your descriptions a bit, and this will make the app more efficient.

Then you can keep a check on the user interaction and by their reaction, you can formulate your descriptions. Do not fail to mention more options and along with it tips to move further. Be careful and do not try to explain things again and again as this makes things boring.

Be proactive while giving suggestions. For instance, do not be just another robot that is nothing but a reminder alarm, extend your functionalities and become a robot that performs other tasks as well.

Of course, a robot is much more intuitive that the reminder alarms as they will not just remind you but will initiate a conversation with the people.

“Hi, What’s up. Had your breakfast, if not then make sure that you feed yourself well as you have to go for a meeting at 11 am.”

Be cautious while giving solutions as when the robot is starting the conversation you ought to be quite relevant. Otherwise, it will end up as spam. Along with that make sure that you the users can easily move out of the conversation.

Does your App need Conversational UI?

You might be wondering how voice messages can handle the complete platform, but this is possible as we have platforms such as Amazon Echo, which is controlled by voice. Along with this, we have several other apps such as WeChat and others that have stepped forward to embrace the technology.

We know that conversational UI will soon become the talk of the town, but a certain specific task such as browsing, searches, and multiple selections are efficiently performed using the regular interface. Therefore, you need not adopt conversational UI for the heck of it when you are rendering such services.

Where have we reached?

Gradually the users will become familiar with conversational robots and then we will also come up with ideas to make this user interface better. Hadn’t it been the whole discussion of user experience we would not have come to the point of changing the complete user interface from a design page to manification.

A year or two later we might be discussing how to improve the features of your conversational UI, top trends or how to improve the conversational UI experience.

Though we do not have anything concrete on Conversational UI as of now, the chances are high that this will be the next design revolution that will give a 360-degree turn to web design world.

The long and short of it!

Technology is making us lazier day by day by being smarter and smarter day by day. As now things that we just imagined are possible as technology has constantly been achieving new progressive milestones and has never been stagnant.

I know there are a lot of questions cooking in your brain.

Do share them as the same is happening with me!

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