Chatbot Conversation: Digital Democracy by Design
Chatbots are the digital democratizer of our day. That natural, conversational interaction between humans and technology means a simplicity of use enabling participation in the richness of the cloud for everyone.
Chatbots users don‘t need special devices or technical expertise to get things done. The old walls reinforcing that digital divide come tumbling down.
Human Language Skills Are Needed
At the heart of creating chatbot ease of use is language design. Language creation for chatbots is a weird Feyerabendian bumping-up-together of talents: technical writing, film script or creative writing, transcreation, and interpreting.
Skilled crafters of chatbot language get right down to the nitty-gritty of replicating and handling how humans really speak and write: dealing with slang, errors, typos, goofs, emoticons, and more. Chatbot language designers must even ponder how chatbot emoji and personality can, or should be localized, for different cultures.
Language has long shaped user experience (UX). But why is it important, especially to business?
A Conversation About Chatbots
I spoke with Karen Scipi (@karenscipi), fellow UX pro co-worker and presenter at Localization World in Silicon Valley on the subject of Conversational UI in the Enterprise. I wanted to know more about where language design and talent for this area fits into the crafting of a great chatbot user experience.
I began by asking why chatbot localization is important. Don’t we all speak English these days or communicate in a common language of emoji?
Karen: Not everyone speaks English, or even prefers it. And not all emojis are understandable, translatable, or even localizable. So why don’t we simply design user experiences for people based on their preferences and how they work? While most chatbot UIs today are designed and built in U.S. English, localization and the architecture and platforms that support today’s chatbots must be considerations when designing the conversation flow from the start, no matter the source language. These considerations reduce the human and cost effort downstream when the chatbot goes global.
I wondered what were Karen’s favourite chatbots, and why; looking for some examples might inspire others working in this space.
Karen: I’m a huge fan of using chatbots to help better the lives of people. My favorite in this category is the United Nation’s World Food Programme’s (WFP) Food Bot that’s used in 33 different countries. In the education category, my favorite is Duolingo. I use it regularly when I’m on the go, on the bus, train, plane, and even when waiting in line at the Post Office. In the travel category, my favorite is Kayak. It’s a one-stop shop for all things travel. Plus, I can use Kayak with my Alexa.
I then turned to the subject of talent and the demand for tech writers or localization specialists of the old school. So is chatbot language design an opportunity or a threat to those kind of careers?
Karen: This is an exciting time! Today’s opportunities in tech writing and localization for chatbot conversation flows disrupt current business processes, yet offer extraordinary opportunities for tech writers and localization specialists to make a huge difference in the lives of those who use software: They can design, localize, or transcreate conversational flows that enable more holistically human, modern, contextual user experiences that enable users to easily move through their day, no matter where in the world or how they work.
The Name of the Chatbot Game: Participation
So, clearly a well-designed, natural, dialog for a chatbot can have a major impact on user moves as their work throughout their day — saving time and speeding up the tasks performed. A chatbot that offers the user a natural language user experience and means to quickly perform a task is a win for the user and a productivity win for the enterprise everywhere.
And if it improves lives, well, who can argue with that?
More Chatbot Inspiration?
Where can we go to understand more about topics discussed here? Well, check out Chatbots Magazine for the top articles on chatbot language design and NLP tools. And to explore chatbot enterprise considerations further, take a look at the Oracle Applications User Experience kit’s primer on chatbots at work and the conversational text design patterns that you can re-use for your own chatbot solutions. They’re free!
Ultan O’Broin (@ultan) is a user experience professional with Oracle and also blogs about UX and technology. He is also a member of the MultiLingual editorial board. His opinions here are personal and not necessarily those of his employer. Karen Scipi is also an Oracle employee speaking on her own behalf.
Both communicate publicly and offer free user experience cloud and chatbot accelerator kits to startups and partners to design and build user experiences that make working and living a better place.