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The 101 of building a conversational app



What to do before diving into coding of a voice app


If given a choice, most developers are known to jump into the coding, without much planning or spending any time in designing the User flow. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely guilty of doing that. I am always excited to get going to see how the app would turn out, without thinking much about the user experience. However, I have learnt that when it comes to developing a voice app, coding must be the last thing we pick up.

The most fundamental element in a voice app is its conversational dialogs. That is what our users interact with our app with, and if we don’t get it right, then no matter how great our idea is, or how fool proof the backend is, our users will not have a great experience with it. And will eventually, stop returning.

Here are the first steps into Conversational Design:

1. Create a persona

Creating a persona helps us create a mental model of how our app (or agent) would sound like while in conversation with a user. Once we have a clear picture of that, it becomes a lot easier for us to write the dialogs on the app or agent’s behalf. It helps us set the mood and tone for our app. Here’s how we can do it:

a) From a list of adjectives that describe the persona of the app, choose at max 3–4 important traits that your persona prominently has. For example, do you want the persona to be friendly and warm, or straightforward? Formal or casual, etc..

b) Add more details to your persona, write a small paragraph as to what your persona is like. It should give a clear sense of how the app might act or most importantly talk in certain situations.

You can read about this more at here.

Just remember, that there is no such thing as no persona. Because if we don’t design one for our apps, our users will design one for us, with their own imagination.

2. Write Sample Dialogs

Try to frame-out conversations between the user and the agent by writing out sample dialogs, that is, the conversation flow that might happen between the user and the agent.

What I normally do is, I write down the dialogs using Excel sheets, and try to frame out what the user would say and what the agent response should look like.

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