Upside down UX

Omobono doesn’t often let me out to write blogs but I seem to have slipped this one past the editorial committee. Before they realise and delete this I want to write (mercifully) briefly about changes I am noticing in User Experience.

Strategy, Technology

Ben Dansie


Ben is CEO of Omobono. His role is to drive innovation both within the company and on behalf of clients. He believes there is huge opportunity for corporate brands that focus on two core dynamics – people and platforms. He has particular expertise in financial services, professional services and hi-tech.

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User (not a nice word for customer, candidate, employee) ‘experience’ is now core to most CMOs thinking. Gartner reckon 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator in 2017 and beyond. Managing the user experience has created a wonderful landgrab right across the organisation as teams work together (haggle) over who should manage experience right along the user journey. It’s heady stuff.

The area we’re seeing really interesting developments is the impact chatbots is having on User Experience (UX). For many years, in fact for most of the life of the internet, UX has been about creating more and more order within whatever screen you happen to be browsing. For agencies like Omobono that has become both an art and science as experiences get optimised, navs get more persistent and the journey becomes more and more prescribed.

Then along came artificial intelligence (AI) in their most common marketing manifestation – Chatbots. Chatbots. Basically a computer talking to you using normal words in a conversational manner. It sounds simple. When it works well it’s simple. Of course it’s fiendishly hard to achieve simplicity. Tech firms like Microsoft have built bot frameworks than can handle much of the heavy lifting into integrating into popular platforms, and Intent recognition services that are working out exactly what a human being means when they use unstructured language – think “I’m looking for a job”, “Are you hiring”, “What roles are open” or “Please I’m desperate”. This is called ‘intent recognition’ and Microsoft have helpfully called their AI robot LUIS (Language Understanding Intelligent Service)

The impact of chatbots is profound and it’s going to be really significant. Today most digital experiences are menu driven, top down and a teeny bit linear. Conversation based interactions – what we as humans have evolved over millions of years to be good at (and we are really rather good at it) – comes naturally to us. So online experiences are going to change from top down to bottom up. Rather than offering a menu you’ll simply be asked “How can I help?”, “What are you looking for?” or “Shall we pick up exactly where you left off?”. Your interaction is then based on precisely what you’re after and the menu appears at the bottom of your screen, not the top. Crazy. For a human though that’s pretty logical. This is what I want – oh look – here are three options exactly relevant to what I’m after.

All blogs come with a diagram so mine features a chart from a journal you will not have read – yes Chatbot Magazine exists. The chart shows how, based on a set of likely questions from a user, content is structured accordingly, not the other way round. You can then overlay content with tone of voice and personality. All this creates flow. And flow is something that us humans really find appealing – if we can ease our way through an experience using the minimal grey matter, it matters and creates a lot of goodwill that we can rest our brains.

What we at Omobono like about all of this is the experience is driven by the person, not the platform. And that’s an advance on the current status quo. It’s loose and unstructured and it’s going to have a very dynamic effect on how we design for digital. Yippee.

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