What is a conversation designer

There are many types of designers. There is not even a simple thing like a digital designer anymore. If you go on Linkedin, you will find interface designers, visual designers, experience designers, user experience designers, behavior designers, and many more. One type that is becoming increasingly more popular is the conversation designer. But what is it?

Where the conversation designer comes from

The rise of the conversation designer has to do with the latest platform shift. Everything used to take place on the web. Companies would just have a website where you could research and order products, or reach out to the organization to ask questions.

With the launch of the iPhone and other smartphones, mobile apps became the new dominant platform. Organizations started making apps, creating better mobile experiences.

Where websites gave rise to the interface designer, mobile gave rise to the user experience designer. Products became simpler and we started thinking about the relationship between the user and the application more.

Apps gave rise to companies like Uber. If you think about it, that’s a pretty impressive user experience. You press a button and a car shows up!

Now, there is a new platform shift taking place. We are moving towards a world of AI assistants. AI assistants are conversational interfaces powered by artificial intelligence. They allow people to speak freely and the AI assistant will respond and help the user.

The Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Samsung's Bixby… they are the most famous ones. But organizations around the world are turning to chatbots and voice applications to guide their customers. Chatbots and voice assistants are deployed for both customer service and more persuasive tasks like sales and marketing.

But what do these interactions look like? You guessed it, that’s where the conversation designer comes in.

The role of a conversation designer

Let’s break down the definition of conversation design. A conversation designer makes AI assistants more helpful and natural when they talk to humans. The conversation designer practices a workflow that makes best use of conversational AI technology, while at the same time ensuring a good user experience.

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It’s the designer’s task to find the best structure for a conversation. To do this, it needs to understand the mindset of the user. What kind of question do people have, what motivates them, what are their concerns and anxieties? By understanding this, he can then figure out what the most efficient conversation is. How to structure information in such a way that people feel understood, get their questions answered, and where the conversation moves forward in an engaging way.

A crucial step in this workflow is Sample Dialogue. To do Sample Dialogue, conversation designers use the conversation design Canvas to get a clear image of the user’s mindset and the capabilities of the AI assistant. When this context is clear, two designers will sit back to back from each other. One person will play the user and the other the AI assistant. They roleplay the situation to understand what kind of challenges they encounter. When the designer understands what causes stress, what triggers questions, and what excites the user, then he can use that information to structure the conversation.

By validating this design with multiple people, the conversation designer comes up with a conversational flow that is going to work for most of the people most of the time. For people that cannot immediately be helped by this design, the conversation designer builds in handovers to other sources of information. This can be a website, a phone line, or a live chat channel.

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The value of the conversation designer

The work of the conversation designer is twofold. It ensures that people can be successful when they engage with AI assistants. And they ensure that companies make the best use of their conversational AI technology.

The conversation designer works in a team of AI trainers and conversational experts. Together they create well designed conversational flows, deliver clear and resonating dialogue, and train the AI assistant to understand users and respond in a pleasant and natural way.

This team works closely together with the engineers to further develop the technical capabilities of the AI assistant. They connect databases and other backend systems to make the assistant more powerful and have greater impact. Together they make it happen.

Conversation designers are a key contributor to the ultimate goal of providing people with automated conversations that are contextual, personalized, and can take place at every conversational interface. These conversations can be deployed on channels like Google Assistant, Alexa, Bixby, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, IVR systems, the website, and any other conversational interface that the AI assistant can connect to.

What does the future of a conversation designer look like?

Since companies are looking to automate conversations with AI assistants at a greater scale, there is an increasing demand for conversation designers. You cannot imagine a company without engineers today and five years from now you won’t imagine a company without conversation designers. If you are interested in AI technology and communication, then conversation design could be a new and exciting field for you.