Now, we’re excited to pass on a few specific tips and tricks for others who are designing (or thinking about designing) bots themselves.
Let’s get right into it: these lessons will hopefully aid others on the journey toward creating successful chat products via pretending to be a bot:
Different bots will likely produce slightly different questions in users’ minds as they are just starting out, so while pretending to be a bot, feel free to leave the intro out. That way while your testers are being observed, you can hear them ask questions aloud — that way you know which questions are truly important to answer right up front.
Then after you understand your users’ questions, take the time to make your bot’s introduction thoughtful and helpful — while still being concise. If we’d pretended to be a bot that included intro content, it’s doubtful that users would have told us which parts they didn’t need. So this really helped us keep it shorter and sweeter than if we’d included every piece of information we’d assumed might be helpful in the introduction.
We found that quick answer buttons can help users know how they should respond, especially early in an experience; they set the tone for how the user should engage, so they don’t have to think about what to type. We learned the hard way about how important it is to be even more explicit about what is expected of them than you’d be in any human conversation with a person, or in a traditional digital experience.
As designers and product strategists with full-time jobs, we often feel inundated by too many reminders for things as it is, so we were surprised to hear how excited this audience was to know that we’d be able to reach out with reminders for things they care about. While it will take us a little while to develop that into the app, it was easy to be able to offer the feature as humans, letting us see how users responded to that capability. Now it’s on our roadmap; if we’d gone on gut feel alone, we might not have prioritized it so highly.
“*one thing the bot should/could be prepared to help/aid/assist with is anxiety concerning test results… what I like so much about the last response (“what is in your control”) is that it gave me power. Anxiety (I think) is a fairly common thing among survivors and current patients. And the thing is we’re pretty anxious bc all the things aren’t in our control.”
This very rich piece of feedback was sent at the moment, with very little effort from the user, but it opened our eyes to a whole new potential content area to explore.
This meant that we could even include personal messages or requests to participants, always starting with an asterisk and introducing ourselves by our real name to keep it clear who they were talking to. We used this method to ask clarifying questions about their asterisk comments, request that they pick a time for a follow-up session, and, in the case below, ask for permission to use a message in our blog post!