Holy cow. My world has gone bot-crazy.
Everybody’s talking about bots. In Facebook and Slack groups, at work, reading analyst reports—no matter where I look, chatbots are the hot topic.
As Content Strategists, we sit at the intersection of User Experience and language. So we’re uniquely positioned to help create chatbots that deliver relevant, useful functionality to people.
But we have questions. So many questions.
Nightmares of the Terminator, HAL, and every evil robot in sci-fi from the past hundred years haunt us. How do we make bots that are helpful, not harmful? How do we avoid the nightmare scenario?
Like you, I’m trying to learn everything I can about this. Here are the articles I’ve found informative about doing Content Strategy for bots.
The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Chatbots (Chatbots Magazine)
This article gives a great overview of what chatbots are and why they’re important. I think his emphasis on bots as the interface of the future is right on. Is it a little hype-y? You decide.
Messaging platforms are natural integration points for bots. Kik is a chat platform that’s very bot-friendly. Two ideas jumped out at me from this article:
- Bot as command-line interface: “power users” can add parameters to their commands, which implicitly instructs the more casual users observing.
- A two-minute allowed response time for the bot allows it to potentially soak in some conversational context. (How to enable bots to take context into account is a nut that we’re working on cracking at my job.)
Content-First Design (A List Apart)
This was the first article I ever read about Content Strategy for bots, and I found it super helpful. Steph Hay compares her “content-first design” method to video games’ story-centered design, and explores its implications for both websites and bots.
Designing Conversational UI with Information Architecture (Chatbots Magazine)
This informative three-part series takes an in-depth look at how to use some familiar IA practices (including content audits and content modeling!) to construct chatbots.
Amy outlines a helpful approach that includes a healthy dose of reasonableness and common sense. I really like her emphases on designing for the bot’s incapabilities and edge cases, and not trying to make it sound too human.
Bots: The future of content strategy? (Kate Towsey)
Props to Kate Towsey for posting this article way back in 2012, before bots were hot. Caveat: she doesn’t mean chatbots, but computer programs that write content. Still, her concept of the future Content Strategist as bot programmer is prescient.