Hola Bot! Best Practices to follow while designing a chatbot

After decades of buttons on screens, chat bots are offering us a different way of interacting with computers. Powered with Artificial Intelligence (AI), bots are revolutionizing how companies interact with existing and potential customers. 

Some may call chatbots just a trend, but this technology have already positively transformed several sectors, making them a powerful tool in the business world, promising massive revenue. Recent report by Gartner states chat bots will power 85 percent of all customer service interactions by the year 2020. Undoubtedly, they are one of the most popular technology trends for 2018, and today we have compiled a set of best practices to follow while designing a chatbot. 

Human first. Technology second

We are kickstarting this blog with the most obvious point, understanding the end user- they are all that matters, technology can wait. It goes without saying, that all the bells and whistles don’t matter at all if the bot doesn’t serve the needs of the user. Hence, start with real users and real conversations. Pay close attention to the reasons a user might initiate a chat. Play the scenarios that can lead them to initiate a chat and the many ways the bot can respond naturally to specific questions. Build a conversation flow, which will allow to build a full conversation with any type of deviations that occurs and taken into consideration.

Welcome message

As the saying goes, first impression is always the last impression, the saying holds true for chatbots too. Although a welcome message is quite simple, but a user’s first interaction with a chat bot can make or break the success of their chat session and determine whether or not they will be a repeat user. It will be wise not to underestimate the potential of a well-crafted welcome message as it is an opportunity for the chatbot to nicely greet the user. It also helps in setting expectations for what’s to come, it’s usability, and provide essential tips and instructions for optimal use. 

Have a personality

Yes most users are aware that they are chatting with a bot, but that shouldn’t be any reason not to infuse some persona into your bot. Avatars help to create a more friendly feel for the conversation and depending on the context of a chat bot’s use, this concept can even be taken a step further by enhancing the persona by mixing in a little humour with a chatbot, which can yield a subtle boost to the UX without requiring one to roll up their sleeves. 

Be Bot-Obvious

Irrespective of all the technological advances, no bot will ever be 100% human. Rather than confusing and frustrating the users, we suggest being upfront with them. Tell them directly that they’re interacting with a bot. This builds a certain amount of trust at the very beginning and makes them more understanding if things don’t go right. The best way to inform the user is to introduce the bot in the welcome message or put the word ‘bot’ in your Chabot’s name. 

Mind your Language

The kind of language the bot uses while interacting with the user is also critical as it determines how the bot is perceived. Avoid using slangs, technical jargons, generation-specific terminology (known in some parts as “Millennial-speak”), poor grammar and typos which can negatively impact the user experience. We recommend that the chat bot “speak” in a neutral, grammatically correct format using standard punctuation which will be understood by all. 

Hold on…there are few additional rules! 

  • Talk to your target users, instead of your colleagues while designing your chat bot. They might have adequate product knowledge, and chances are you might miss out on most basic elements needed for a conversation that provides value for your users.
  • Avoid importing the FAQ’s as the only means of information. Get creative, get thinking – think of all the strange questions that a user can potentially ask. 
  • If you are designing a chatbot for dashboards, try to personalize them to user specific. 
  • Do not miss out on user testing before setting your bot free.

 To create an enjoyable, immersive and interactive experience for your users talk to our specialized user experience design team to get more insights on our unique process. 

Busting 5 Common UX Design Myths which Currently Plagues the Financial Sector

Without a doubt, our banking & financial sector has undergone a massive disruption, thanks to the adoption of emerging technologies and the rise of the fintech sector. However, in recent times it is witnessing a much greater change as advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence move from fantasy to a reality, and now banks are all about knowing their customers behaviors, needs, and what motivates them than ever before.

Every year, thousands of digital financial services are launched around the world; sadly, most of them are falling short from achieving their desired goals. This is partly due to misaligned user experience and the design approach of the creators. Over the years, Scketch has been working closely with multiple banking and financial services company, and we have come across many misconceptions surrounding User Experience design. Today we would like to bring them to light and help entrepreneurs in creating successful financial services.

Myth 1: UX design requires a huge Investment

UX design for Financial Sector, Design Thinking

Essentially user experience design centers around the philosophy of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, functionality, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product. Hence, when it comes to building financial digital services, it is especially effective to combine UX design technology with Design Thinking. Even lean UX implementation or using basic principles of Design Thinking can significantly benefit an organization and are available at no cost. Rather than creating a full-fledged UX department in-house, partnering with UX agencies for a UX approach implementation can be further cost-efficient for financial start-ups. In the long term, UX design provides a significant return on investment and significantly strengthens core competencies of a team.

Myth 2: Copy the design of a similar successful service

Design Thinking, User Experience Design

We have seen this mantra far too often- look at a successful service, replicate it and instantly achieve the same measure of success. Only if success was this easy. We have watched companies fail miserably in unfortunate attempts to repeat the successes of established companies such as Paytm, Mint, Paypal etc. Blatantly copying financial interfaces from popular services simply do not work. A lot of thought is put in while designing an interface, therefore the uniqueness and success of the design of a digital product involve multiple factors. It is imperative to grasp the thought flow of the ideas that are behind the design of a particular service and how it creates a user benefit and solves the real customer problems. Hence it is always wiser to offer the world your own generated solution for an important problem which could have the potential to become a new benchmark and a source of inspiration.

Myth 3: Radical designs

Innovation has been a buzzword for quite some time now; unfortunately, many Fintech start-ups lose their sight while chasing uniqueness and innovation. As the industry is undergoing a digital transformation, we are all amazed by the incredible possibilities of new technologies, but this does not mean that, if you include them, it will ensure the perfect UX. Yes, it might be a great boost for your PR, but it can also cause users to become frustrated by unusual and unexpected functionality. Most of us are hard pressed for time, and Finance in itself is a complex product. In such situations, companies should refrain from reinventing the wheel, but rather use patterns and solutions that are already tested and familiar to users.

Myth 4: Users want a plethora of services to stay hooked

Banking & Financial sector
We are practically living in a world where the majority believes in less is more. Everything for everyone approach can pose to be dangerous not only for Fintech start-ups but also for banks. Although it is crucial to deliver ultimate value for users and stay ahead in the game, providing too many products and services can be extremely overwhelming for a user and will ultimately lead to users refusing to use the service in favor of simpler analogy. Going with the Minimal Viable Product concept delivered by start-up is ideal in recent times where before starting a project, it is important to understand which key functions most in demand by your customers are. The key to providing a seamless experience is to maintain the fine balance – avoid overloading your users and leave enough space either on the interface level or at the feature level.

Myth 5: UX alone can make your product an instant success

I so wish this statement was true, but unfortunately, it isn’t. A great UX alone cannot guarantee instant success. Just like breaking into a new shoe, people often need time to try a product in order to appreciate it. Even though digital products often see faster results, they are still subject to various market rules. Which only means that success depends not only on the product design but also on how and when it is introduced to the market, what kind of after sales support is provided to users, what is offered by competitors, and many other business factors. Furthermore, UX design is an iterative process, and it does not stop after the product is launched. Services often need to be upgraded and improved based on feedback from customers and usage data. This is definitely time-consuming, but it’s the only way to achieve maximum compliance with market demand is to go organic and stay true to the fundamentals.

When customers choose to pay your site a visit, you will only have less than 15 seconds to influence them, hence it’s is absolutely essential to optimize your UX design to quickly gain trust, brand recognition and ensure user retention. Although UX has been an Innovation driver in the financial sector, it also plagued with many myths. At the end of the day, these myths can be simply avoided by putting ourselves in our users’ shoes more, and by making fewer assumptions about their behaviors or motivations. If you want to know more how our UX team can help you build your financial product talk to us.

4 reasons why your business needs a Progressive Web App

The web world is an ever-changing platform, and just when you think you’re hopping onto one trend, another comes whizzing by. Not too long ago, responsive web design was the buzzword and the changes brought on by them have almost fully saturated. And now, Progressive Web Apps- which offer the same functionality and feel, like a native mobile app but are accessed through the internet like other sites and are changing what we do and how we do it.

Without a doubt, Progressive Web Apps (PWA) has taken over the development community by a storm, and by the looks of it, this storm will take a while to quiet down. According to a report done by Gartner, PWA will replace half of the consumer-facing apps by 2020. Hence, without further ado, here are four reasons why progressive web apps are just the thing your company might need.

Progressive Web Apps, Responsive Web Design

Downloading is a thing of the past (Bye Bye App stores!)

We humans have become an impatient lot, then from what we used to be a couple of decades ago. It’s probably because we are getting used to getting access to what we want, whenever we want, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The best part about Progressive Web apps is that you no longer need to download them. All that frustration of downloading an app from an app store or play store is a thing of the past. All a user needs to do is type in the URL, click on a URL link and the app will launch straight away. No more logins, no passwords to remember, no wasting precious data, no updates, and who doesn’t like the sound of that!
For companies, PWAs are designed to provide the same responsiveness as a native app. They aren’t just fast- they load instantly, even if you have a patchy connection, which simply means that fewer and fewer potential customers are going to give up midway, which in turn, means a quick turn transition from potential customer to conversion.

They offer a frictionless experience.

PWA’s provide the best of both worlds, and they are far more efficient than native apps. They work on-demand and are always accessible, without taking up a phone’s valuable memory or data. However, this doesn’t mean users need to sacrifice the convenience of a native app, users can still save the PWA to their home screen and it’s installable without the hassle of a real download. This is not only a considerable improvement in user experience but also efficient and economical.

Search Engine Optimization, SEO Services

SEO benefits

Progressive web apps are essentially websites which means they are advantageous for SEO! Unlike, native mobile apps, they can be discovered and indexed by Google hence they will appear in search engine results and in return drive more traffic to your website. A PWA loads seamlessly while accessing a site on a smartphone, which reduces friction and improves conversions.

Native Mobile Apps, Native Apps

Faster updates & cost effective

PWA’s don’t require developers to send new builds to the app stores when they need to adjust, a process which can take up to a week for native apps. In case of a critical bug in a native app, developers need to find the problem, fix it, send the build to Apple and Google, wait for them to review the build, and only when the new update will be available for the users. With progressive web apps, any fixes can be launched almost immediately, and it eliminates the need of two separate code bases for Apple and Android devices. Additionally, they cost less to develop than a native mobile app, lowers customer acquisition cost, increases customer reach and conversion rate. This kind of efficiency leads to significant cost savings for companies and paves the way for more rapid innovation.

Progressive web apps are faster, leaner, sleeker, where the user has a much better experience, completes their tasks, and returns for more. This has led many major brands switching from native apps to PWAs, and with good reason. Although PWA was introduced in 2015, they have gained considerable popularity in a short time because of their inherent flexibility, and their huge cost-saving features. From Flipkart to Twitter to Starbucks, PWAs are proving that any business can make significant gains with this technology.

Progressive Web Apps

How to launch your own Progressive Web App?

If you are a growing startup and would want to launch your own PWA then you are in the right place. Scketch has gained substantial expertise in designing and developing Progressive Web Apps and would love to help you out. Contact us.

 

Humanizing Big Data with Design Thinking

Big Data, Design Thinking

The amount of data each one of us is creating, in this world of increasing connectivity, is enormous. Although, we are aware that big data is poised to transform businesses and even our lives, but companies are gradually struggling to find a way to translate all that data in a way which actually benefits the business.

We’ve reached a stage in the field of technology where consumers are no longer attracted to access to data, as data availability, even our own, is increasingly the norm. If you are wondering what exactly are consumers looking in products and services, the answer lies in the usability of the data.

So what are successful companies doing to stay ahead in the game to woo consumers? It is Design Thinking. By employing human centered design thinking techniques to something inhuman such as big data, companies are continually engaging with customers in an emotional way and outsmarting the competition in the market.

Design Thinking and Big Data, exciting right? 

No matter how much the world has come to revere Big Data, data scientists don’t hold some magic formula that’s going to save the world, radically transform businesses, or eliminate poverty. Problems cannot be resolved just by accumulating large amount of data or setting a bunch of nerds loose on a pile of data. Solving a problem not only requires a high-level conceptual understanding of the challenge, but also a deep understanding of the nuances of a challenge.

Let’s take a quick recap of the design thinking process:

  • Observe, empathize and understand the customer’s behavior or interaction.
  • Develop theories about their behavior, including spoken and unspoken aspects of their behavior, explicit and implicit needs, etc.
  • Based on derived theories, develop potential solutions that could address the problem they face.
  • Qualify some of these solutions based on various kinds of criteria, such as feasibility, scope, technology, cost, etc.
  • Start designing a prototype, iterate and then begin developing the final product idea.

Applying Design Thinking on Big Data

Getting back to how big data companies can leverage design thinking, data scientists could benefit by starting with asking right questions like who for? Who are? Instead of applying frameworks and algorithms right away to the data, begin with a stakeholder mapping exercise. Understand and clarify relationships and potential gaps, being sure to include both internal and external stakeholders. This will help data scientists understand who is the target user and who will benefit most from their future innovation.

UI UX Design, Design Thinking, Big Data

Design relies heavily on empathy and it is the cornerstone of ground breaking products.To utilize design thinking methodology, understand your consumers or users and develop insights and opportunity statements to act as a springboard for ideation. Look at how key stakeholders use (or don’t use) information currently, concentrate on individual experiences, invite stakeholders into the process as much as possible, whether through contextual observation in the early stages or collaborative workshops as your process evolves. Forming a deep customer empathy allows data scientists to understand the consumers, the environment and the criteria of a good solution. The end-goal of any product is to be consistently used by all users, not just power users, and the only way to accomplish this is to make it as simple as possible to discover the relevant insights.

Design thinking has given a rise to a new mantra- Fail fast to succeed faster. Sooner you identify that something is failing, the quicker you can fix it and the faster you will ultimately succeed. A vital component of design thinking is a prototype, which conveys a realistic impression of the new problem solution as early as possible. Developing prototypes allows to obtain more informed feedback from users, and combining this information with additional research, iteration, and brainstorming lays the pathway to reach the final goal.

As technology is evolving at a rapid pace, enterprises are facing new challenges every day which is only growing complex with time. When design-thinking is applied to analytics, sheer magic is born. Big data in combination with design thinking can be revolutionary by virtue of the value it creates for organizations. Thinking from a human level, paying attention to the human factors that contribute to or motivate success, is the surest way to for organizations to unlock new opportunities, build empathy for users and pave the way to exceptional experiences that are truly human-centered.

Step into the Bold and Beautiful ‘AI + Design’ Era

Artificial Intelligence, UI UX Design, Design Thinking

Although there was a certain paranoia revolving around Artificial Intelligence (AI), thanks to Skynet, but in recent years AI has enhanced by leaps and bounds. 2018 is especially witnessing a new surge in the field of AI, especially among various enterprises that are collecting big data.

What is AI?

If you are still wondering where I am trying to go with all this, don’t worry you will know soon enough. As AI continues to become more understood with each passing day, it’s becoming less confined to the domain of developers and data scientists and slowly but surely we have stepped into the era of ‘AI + UX’ where both of them are inextricably entwined. They both affect and inform how the other works and some are proclaiming that down the line, AI will eventually replace designers. But no, chances of that happening are pretty slim. Phew! I could almost sense my fellow designers choking.

Leveraging AI to create better UX (Oh the possibilities!)

In the world of UX, the rise of Big Data, AI, and automation is steadily opening new possibilities for designers. Besides architecting human-like conversations and actions, designers can do a lot more by leveraging AI. Traditionally designers relied on metrics and tools to improve functionality and effectiveness of an app, but now with AI, designers today have access to the myriad of empirical, actionable data that gives them a better platform to create outstanding UX.

Taking the more personal route

Core skills of a UX designers centre around having a deep understanding of the product’s functionalities, predicting how the users will interact with the solution, ultimately forming a bridge with design thinking. Even though there has been no greater shift in these core skills of designers, but with the introduction of AI, there has been a huge change in the how of designing products.

In a sensory overloaded world, users are increasingly expecting a more personalized experience. This has led designers to turn towards AI, to understand patterns from large sets of data to create compelling tailor-made applications. Instead of checklist and list of deliverables, designers are scrutinizing sheer volume of information to make data-informed decisions, and coming up with perfect interfaces, messages, push notifications, colours, and fonts to suit each and every user’s needs.

Taking advantage of AI to do the legwork.

Every UX designer have to do tons of mundane work on a daily basis, such as cropping assets, resizing images, color correcting photos , yes all of us hate doing it, but it is part of the job. However, these jobs are slowly getting automated with the help of AI (Hallelujah!). For example, Adobe recently announced the launch of Sensei Stitch, an Artificial Intelligence, which identifies patterns in the image to help designers patch, edit, or even completely reinvent certain scene.

Such AI enabled systems not only helps designers become more efficient at what they do but it allows us to focus more on the creative and strategic aspects of the work instead of technical tasks.

Create smarter Interfaces

Some companies have incorporated AI to create smarter interfaces which are slowly making many traditional interfaces disappear. For example, focused on usability, Amazon’s Alexa which runs on Artificial Intelligence, interacts with users by simply talking to them and acts on their behalf by handling tasks when asked to. Alexa and Amazon Alexa users show a considerable increase in the online purchase.

AI not only improves user experience but it offers a dramatically better way to solve problems and, more importantly, gives the power to do things which were previously not possible.

The world is galloping towards embracing the umpteen number of opportunities AI has to offer. As AI evolves, designers at Scketch are collaborating with data scientists and clients to innovate and create exciting meaningful experiences that not only benefits end users but also the future of UX. Our journey with Artificial Intelligence is teaching us that a combination of data, algorithms and user experience methodologies can trigger an avalanche of memorable experiences for the end users.
 

Alexa, What’s all the buzz about you and your sisters?

Voice User Interface, VUI, Internet of Things

Voice assistant- Is it a necessity – or overhyped – like Google Glass? Will it survive the test of time ?

If you are a fan of the Star Trek series, you’d remember this scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home(1986) where Chief Engineer Scotty travels back to 1986 with the Enterprise crew. He is given a computer and he goes like, “Hello Computer” using the mouse as his microphone. He gets surprised for not receiving a response. When given a keyboard to operate the computer with, he says “How quaint!”.

I am sure if Chief Scotty travels back to 2018, he wouldn’t find our tech that “quaint”.

Voice User interface (VUI) is taking the world by storm. The Smart Audio Report finds out, in just three years the smart speakers are “already outpacing the adoption rates of smartphones and tablets”. But before we dive into the core of the craze, let’s see what is exactly Voice User Interface.

Voice User Interface, allows you to interact or control your devices using your voice.

Gone are the days when you have to find your device and look into the screen to just know the time or book a cab. Ask your virtual assistant and you shall get your job done! This technology is truly maximising the power of multitasking.

Infographics from Canalys showing the increase in demand for Smart speaker

Now let me answer the 3 burning questions related to VUI for you without any delay.

Why is there a sudden uproar for Voice user interface(VUI)?

Humans are wired for speech. It’s a common childhood imagination of having a computer with A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) like J.A.R.V.I.S to save the world like Iron man or have it just as our friend.

Butters talking to Awesome-O in South Park
Credits : Comedy Central

So, this concept was not only well established in our imaginations but was way ahead being tried and tested in the research world.

With this comes the next question.

If this idea came to us long time ago, what took us so long to bring it into existence?

Developing a VUI is like building a personality for a novel’s character. Similarly, a machine has to be provided with data and the power to process it to build a personality. This is being given to the machines in the form of cloud computing, data mining and machine learning.

You can also check this amazing video below which shows an experiment performed in Michigan University called “Donald Sherman orders a pizza using a talking computer, Dec 4, 1974” where a pizza is ordered from Mr.Mike’s using a computer.


Credits : John Eulenberg (YouTube Channel)

But one of the common questions being asked around is, when we have mobile applications doing everything we want and more, why do we need a voice assistant?

The beauty of speech is, it’s a skill which encompasses a wide range of people. For example, my granny has a hard time setting an alarm on her smartphone. She comes to me saying “Tanushree, I want to set an alarm for 5 A.M. Can you please set it up on this phone?”

Now imagine the joy she’d experience when she gets her work done on her own by simply telling Alexa, Siri or any other voice assistant to do it for her.


Credits : The Star Online (YouTube Channel)

Speech is a skill which brings different ages, people with imparities together to enjoy technology. It is definitely not solving the problem for all, but it’s making a right step towards including everyone.

How Scketch is making use of VUI

At Scketch, we love to learn, incorporate and work with new technology for two reasons. First, it helps us to study the pros and cons of the technology. We accordingly play with it and extract the best out of it. Secondly, it helps in analyzing and predicting where the world of technology is heading towards. This helps us to equip our clients with advanced technology which sets them apart from their competition.

We wanted to accomplish an important task in a much more exciting way. Our forever-energized developers set out to the adventure of building a skill for Alexa, which would add more tech and pep in our weekdays.

This is how Sckarlett, our talking logbook skill came to life!

She helps our employees to not only login and logout. She helps us in our other tasks like leaves and time sheet management, providing monthly and weekly stats to the reporting head of different departments and more.

Do you want to venture in this exciting world of VUI? If you do, feel free to contact us at info[@]scketch.com