Conversational Interfaces

By: Cody Sanger

How is the role of experience strategists and designers changing?

The function of the designer is becoming more of an end-to-end role. Designers are becoming increasingly engaged further upstream, often at the strategy phase. So they’re able to see the product from ideation through the post-public release phase.

As a result, designers are more aware of how their designs impact the user’s and business’s needs. We now play a crucial role in strategy, UX, visual design, and front-end development through product prototyping.

How has designing for conversational interfaces changed the way you think about user experience?

Conversational UI is like a highwire act without the net. When you designing for the screen, you’ve got that safety net of having familiar UI footholds. But conversational UI is a linear experience, so you need to get every step right. If you don’t, the customer will inevitably abandon the feature. It has to be rock-solid.

Designers also need to understand how to interject emotive elements into conversational UIs and chatbots beyond just on-screen copy. Think emojis, animation, and sound…

We also need to avoid the pitfall of trying to trick the user into thinking they’re talking to a real person. This is particularly important when working in highly regulated industries such as healthcare, financial services, and insurance.

What’s the key to making AR/VR experiences useful and viable? What’s holding it back, if anything?

Look at it this way: when smartphones were first released a decade ago, people were infatuated with gimmicky apps like the original Star Wars lightsaber. The apps, at the time, were novel and caught users’ attention essentially because of the overall newness of the technology. However, today we look back and can see how elementary those experiences were in comparison to the digital experiences that we have today.

So when it comes to AR/VR, we’re basically at the ‘lightsaber’ stage. Most AR/VR experiences are still surface-level with no real depth, and they’re not serving any greater purpose than entertainment.

But designers and technologists are starting to uncover ways to use the technologies to solve complex problems. From helping those with autism overcome social obstacles to finding that screw you were looking for at the Home Depot, we can definitely expect to see even more applicable AR/VR experiences start to emerge.