Let's get back into some history before we step into the future.
Have you ever wondered what the world's first website looked like? Who created it and when? Well, the first website was launched by Sir Tim Berners Lee in the year 1991. It was a simple webpage with some texts and hyperlinks. You can have a look at it here.
From that modest beginning back in 1991, some extraordinary transformations have taken place in the world of web design. Whether it is the launch of the first browser in 1996 by Microsoft, the introduction of CSS and Flash (both in 1996), or the need for responsive design in recent years, all played their role in the evolution of web design.
Now, we are moving into the future of web design, and conversational interfaces will be the key that will power up modern mobile-first websites.
What is conversational UI?
Conversational interface has been rightly referred to as the "UI of the future." Global leaders like Google, Amazon and Apple are already developing smart websites that will handle customer queries using conversational interfaces.
In fact, a few years back, Google developed a chatbot that could debate the meaning of life with users. Its developers didn't build it through code but used a machine-learning algorithm to study movie conversations, teaching it to respond to queries from users contemplating the deeper meaning of life.
Conversational interfaces are platforms that mimic a conversation with a real human. This means users can interact with a machine in the same language as though they are communicating with a human. This happens with the help of natural language processing, which allows the computers to understand, analyze, and derive meaning from the words entered or spoken by the user.
The evolution of UI that started with a keyboard when a language like DOS was used to enter commands that could easily be understood by a computer. We have since transitioned from basic input devices used to enter data to more robust platform that do not require data entry but can cater to user commands through voice, gestures, etc. Now, with the introduction of Apple's Siri and Amazon's Echo, computers can easily understand the language of a user, from simple demands like "Siri, tell me what the temperature is outside" to more complex requests like "Google, can you book me an appointment at a women's hair salon?"
Seeing what the world has in store for modern websites, you can forget about colorful buttons. Instead, conversational interfaces like chatbots and voice assistants will power up the websites of the future.
But don't take my word for it. Here are some modern-day brands that have used chatbots to dramatically increase their productivity:
- Popular ride-hailing service Lyft lets you book rides through tools like Slack by typing "/lyft."
- Personal care brand Sephora lets you engage with its bot via platforms like Kik to get product information, watch tutorials, etc.
- 1-800-Flowers, a famous floral and gourmet food business, has a very conversational website that runs you through floral arrangements so you can choose your preferred order.
The point here is that a lot of popular brands have been experimenting with the concept of a conversational website for quite some time now, and with online serviceability on the rise, brands are expected to build omni-digital experiences.
More and more brands are using bot-powered websites and apps as not just tricky pieces of tech, but as essential customer management assets that can help them drive down costs and boost online traffic.
How to build a conversational website
A conversational website uses a chatbot to interact with users either through voice or text. The key lies in creating a website that literally talks with the visitor. Stick to the basic rules of designing a website and then add an interactive function to it. Your customer should feel like they are interacting with an actual human, not a bot.
Adding a chatbot to your site is all you need to convert it into a site of the future. A chatbot can be one of two types: a text chatbot or a voice chatbot. Let's learn about these.
- Text-based chatbot: A text chatbot collects data in the form of text, processes it and returns the result in text form. You can create a text chatbot using Python. Here is an interactive guide to writing bots in Python.
- Voice-based chatbot: A voice chatbot collects data in the form of voice, processes it and returns the result vocally. You can create a voice-enabled Android chatbot following this tutorial.
If you don't want to bang your head into codes, there is an easier option for you: chatbot builders.
Amazon Lex is the top solution for building conversational interfaces for your website. It uses the same technology as Alexa, enabling you to quickly and easily build sophisticated, natural-language chatbots.
There are other builders, like Collect.chat, that can assist you in building a custom chatbot for your business. With a powerful algorithm on the back end, the chatbot can interact with your site visitors, understand their requirements, and suggest the best products or services for them.
Why conversational interfaces are the future
Conversational interfaces are better than traditional interfaces because they reduce the friction in communication. People can easily communicate in the language they are most comfortable with, leading to better user experiences and increased sales.
- Around 83% of shoppers need assistance during online shopping. A chatbot can assist them in choosing the best product in the shortest possible time.
- A chatbot can handle multiple requests at once, eliminating wait times. Hence, businesses can scale up their operations to improve revenue.
- A conversational interface helps to generate better leads and also helps with lead nurturing.
- A chatbot adds a personalized experience for every user, improving customer satisfaction. This leads to better ROI and more word-of-mouth referrals.
- Customers can make easy payments using the same platform that generates significant revenue for your business.
- A chatbot never sleeps, so your brand can interact with customers 24/7. This improves brand value and customer retention.
Conversational interfaces are surging in popularity, and there is no going back. Websites of the future will have simple interfaces powered by voice assistants and chatbots. Businesses able to build websites that provide customers with better experiences, allowing them to type or say less and get instant yet accurate recommendations, are bound to win.