Conversational interfaces

I've come to find that one of my favorite parts of designing interfaces is writing the copy. Some of my favorite resources in the past few months I've stumbled upon include Anna Pickard's ClarityConf talk on creating a "style guide for words" at Slack, as well as her brilliant post on the same topic, Words Are Hard.

And now, "conversational interfaces" seems to be the buzzword du jour. But I kind of love it. I think many people are writing on this topic in the context of messaging apps and bots, but I like to think of it as a concept that should be foundational to any product, regardless of apparatus.

And so that brought me to a fun thought exercise. If you work on a non-bot, non-messaging product, such as a news site like, what would your product say to your users? What personality and tone would it convey? What would it say when someone visits for the first time? ("Hello. I'm Vox. I'm pretty smart and I'm here to help you understand the news.") What happens when they decide to engage? ("I'm here to help you learn more. What news item or topic are you curious about today?") And what happens after they've spent quite a long time with you? ("Did you think that article was helpful? Do you know anyone else we should talk to who might be interested? Is there anything you're thinking about that we should cover?").

I love the current buzz about conversational interfaces because it comes down to something very human: the want to understand, poke at, and build a relationship with someone or something, who is also curious about you too.

  design  product 
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