4 Steps to Design Your Chatbot Pretotype With Flowcharts
Naturally, one of the most important parts of designing a chatbot is to ideate and imagine what the conversational experience of your chatbot might look like. Most importantly, how to create an experience that would help the users, and tend to their needs. But before going ahead and writing a copy, it is essential to establish a well-defined understanding of the interaction between the user and the chatbot. Designing a conversational flow or flowchart is a good way to gain this insight.
A flowchart can be used as a pretotyping tool at an early stage of the chatbot design process. Employing this method will grant you the opportunity to validate your chatbot idea, decide on the next steps in the process, and eventually will allow you to build a better chatbot! In this blog post, we will go through some of the aspects of the chatbot conversation flowchart that has helped us to get a clear picture of the interactions that our end-users are likely to have with the bots. Designing a conversational flowchart pretotype can help your clients understand the logic behind the bot and foster new reflections on its functionality.
Chatbot Conversation Flow Basics
Think of a chatbot conversation flow as a visual representation of a sequence of steps that the user will go through to perform a task, reach a decision, or desired outcome.
There are many ways to design a conversation flow. Either by using online tools (such as Miro, Google Jamboard, and Whimsical) or hitting the whiteboard, and putting pen to paper. The choice of method will most likely depend on you and the other stakeholders' preferences in collaboration (though digital tools are recommended during pandemics 😷).
Designing a Conversation Flow: Steps and Considerations
Like all great digital experiences, conversational interfaces need to be designed with the right context in mind. In one of our previous blog posts, we have unveiled how you can create the perfect chatbot experience, by following our conversational design methodology. Through an iterative process of identifying, understanding, and testing, you can ensure that your chatbot will create optimal value for the business and end-users.
As people don't experience digital products screen-by-screen, or page by page, but rather find their own ways of navigation, a conversation flowchart will allow you to think about how your end-users will really use the chatbot, what are the scenarios that they will or won't follow.
1. Decide on a Purpose
Before you start designing your conversation flow, remind yourself - what is the purpose of your chatbot? What user questions is the bot supposed to answer? What kind of experience do you want to create? What kind of information the user is looking for, and how are you planning to convey the information in a reliable and engaging way? By keeping all these questions and your user's journey in mind, start by mapping out the elements of your conversation flowchart.
2. Chatbot Conversation Flow Elements
Start by indicating different types of interactions or milestones that are going to appear in the conversation. By using different colors and shapes, you can label the potential user intents and responses, chatbot answers, actions, and functionalities that the bot will perform. Don't forget about other elements as well, such as call-to-action buttons or replies, i.e., fallbacks that the bot will give when it doesn't detect the user's intent.
3. Use What You Already Know
To map out the content of specific elements, go through the data you already have. This might include end-user interview transcripts, observations from ideation workshops, documentation of processes, frequently asked questions (FAQs), answers, and more. Don't forget to think about the functional performance of the bot. Use your knowledge of the client's technology stack, to map out the points in conversation where you'd need to implement a back-end integration. Now it's time to give some content to your conversation flowchart! Stay concise, by keeping the messages precise and short.
In the example below, we have worked on a simple Home Insurance bot that can answer customer FAQs, provide them with a personalized quote for home insurance, as well as create a claim. We have kept the messages short, giving enough room for a user to interact. The key here is to avoid an overwhelming amount of information and lengthy texts. Think tweets and SMS short. If your FAQ section reminds you more of a novel, then make sure to break it down into bite-size digestible text pieces.
4. Test Your Flowchart by Involving Stakeholders
Keep in mind that you will iteratively improve the content as you will go further along in the process. At this point, you may want to involve your stakeholders and ask for feedback. Collaborating with the involved stakeholders will allow you to optimize both the structure and the content of your conversation flow.
So, Why Should I Design One?
Conversational chatbots can significantly boost your business, productivity, and employee experience. But they will only do so by providing a good experience for the users - helping them when needed, prompting users with suggestions when they are in doubt, and admitting things they don't know. Therefore, a well-defined and comprehensive understanding of how your customers will interact with a chatbot is essential when designing one. Flowchart pretotypes will help both you and your client to gain this knowledge in a visually appealing, easily digestible, and collaborative way.
Buley, L. (2013). The user experience team of one: A research and design survival guide. New York: Rosenfeld Media.