The Basics of Conversational UX Design

June 1, 2016

Think about the last awkward conversation that you had with another person. Did you approach the conversation the same way the whole way through, or did you adapt to try and shift the conversation to avoid the agonising feeling of the awkward silence? Chances are, you read the behaviour of the other person and worked hard to shift the conversation. This modification is similar to conversational UX.

The digital industry always has a trendy word of the moment and, up there with the likes of personalisation, is conversational UX. Conversational UX doesn't necessarily mean that a UX starts up a two-way conversation with you mid-browse, but more that the UX observes your previous behaviour and then serves you a certain experience based on your actions. Conversational, in this sense, merely means the UX reacts to you as one would in a conversation, learning and adapting as they go. This article explores the concept of conversational UX and what this could mean for the future of web design.

What is Conversational UX Design?

Conversational UX learns about you from your behaviour on your phone, adapts and serves you an experience based on your behaviour. Conversational UX takes it further than any existing personalisation strategies being used by businesses. With conversational UX, your OS should eventually be able to watch your behaviour and then decide which apps or services to use on your behalf. Due to this ability to adapt, a conversational UX won't experience high drop-off rates because it will already have changed to meet the user's needs.

What examples of Conversational UX already exist?

Designers are trying to replicate what a real life interaction might look like, but on a mobile phone. Watch this video, Google Analytics in Real Life, to see how the online checkout experience compares in no way to the human world and how that causes confusion. This is what designers are striving to avoid, and what conversational UX promises to resolve.

The space between the user and a product is beginning to change and big powerhouses in digital are beginning to offer conversational UX experiences such as Facebook's M and Amazon's Alexa. There is also Apple's Siri and Google's voice recognition service that now drives more than 20% of all Google searches.

For smaller businesses, the only way they are creating conversational UX is via small examples of micro-copy that help to instruct or alleviate the concerns of users.

What does the future look like?

Currently conversational UX is very junior in its evolution and most users recognise when they are being offered a tailored experience or when they are interacting with a bot instead of a real person. However, as these systems develop, and become more sophisticated, the way users interact with apps will begin to change. The reality of the movie 'Her' where the main character falls in love with his OS may not be as far away as we think.

What do you think about conversational UX? Join the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Written by
Alexander Rauser
Alexander Rauser


Alexander Rauser is the author of Boardroom Guide to Digital Accountability and Digital Strategy: A Guide to Digital Business Transformation, and creator of the DSX Program, a digital strategy and transformation program for Enterprises.

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