Chatbot dialog design – a best practice proposal

While working on a new chatbot I had to come up with good examples to start and led a conversation with the chatbot. For this I analyzed other bots, tracked the steps it takes to achieve a specific goal and kept notes on repeating patterns. In result me and my team came up with a few basic principles to design dialogs in conversational bots.

Assuming you already got in touch with common chatbot platform here are the principles:

  • A chatbot should understand and appropriately react to keywords at any point in the dialog, such as “hi”, “cancel”, “menu” or “start over”.
  • A chatbot reaction should contain a description and alternative options. These option should either provide a help to finish the current dialog or move within the whole conversation forward and backward.
  • Hints on inputs should be offered.
  • Carousels should only display results, not menu options.
  • New users should get a general introduction on what the bot is about (once).
  • The number of steps to complete a task should be kept as small as possible.
  • The possibility to abort a dialog should be offered at any point of the dialog.
  • Rich text elements, such as cards, should be used carefully. They use a lot of space and might move beyond the viewport.
  • Experienced users should have the option to reach their goal very quickly.
  • Give suggestions or inspirations for undecided users.

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