Chatbots Magazine Become a Writer Intro to Chatbots

Buttons or text?

(Syd Lawrence) #1

We’ve experimented with bots for the past few months, and have quite a few live.

Do you think Messenger bots need to have text processing, or is just buttons enough? And why?

(Mike Bailey) #2

With our platform we take the button and run it through our NLP so either an emoji or text similar to the button will process. If the button says “Yes”, yeah, yep, sure, ok etc… would all progress down that tree.

(Syd Lawrence) #3

yeah that makes sense

(tapos.alam) #4

If Bot is smart enough, Text, otherwise button would be easier for interactions

(Ben Parr) #5

Buttons now, more text in a few years. Sometimes it’s a mix!

(akhanukov) #6

Both. Rails are clearly a better interface for a new experience for most users, but many users still type even if you give them buttons, so you should account for both. Plus if you are collecting data as answers, many times buttons aren’t an option anyway. The problem with this approach for Facebook vs Slack is that Slack process both as a reply while Facebook sends button responses to another service/function and/or doesn’t treat a click and text response the same way. Therefore, you have to add additional code to process your conversation state in both reply functions.

I just returned from the Talkabot conference in Austin put on by Howdy (writing about this for the magazine), and there were heads of platforms for most of them attending as well as speakers from several bot startups, and this issue was addressed numerous times. The hybrid approach is the most recommended broadly, however, it always depends on platform as well as the situation.

Another UI thing you’ll be seeing is the adoption of Kik’s top menu reiterated at all times. Many bot developers are now also throwing out a top menu of sorts with every message to give the user the easy ability to start at the top AND know all of the options available or at least easily find out.

(mnort9) #7

I think buttons/quick replies help guide the user down the “happy path” in the conversation flow. Open text entry can by tricky for NLP.

(Artemy Malkov) #8

Buttons vs text? That depends on the number of possible actions. If you are building automation script for a single sequence of questions/operations buttons are great.
But if you have a variety of outcomes, say a hundred of them, buttons are too rigid and the navigation tree is too big. In this case, you need text interface which is more similar to full-text search technologies.

In our chatbots we use a combination of both depending on how given experience is branchy.

(Siddharth Shekhawat) #9

I agree with what everyone has already mentioned. There is a fine line between buttons and texts and you have to choose wisely. We are currently using a mix of both to drive user conversations to the possible exits that we want.

We were relying too much on text earlier, but after the launch of buttons on Slack, we started converting some of our use cases to buttons and the response has been great. Buttons help you as a product builder to drive the user to a judgement you want. With text its pretty open ended. Depends on the use case you are trying to solve.

(Sergei Burkov) #10

Text! NLP powered by AI

(steffan) #11

Of course, like most things, it depends. There are just so many different use cases and applications for chatbots to say if text or buttons are better in a general sense.

For example, if you’re creating commerce based bots, you may need something like:

  • Text with NLP for FAQ’s, and providing a “first line of defense” for customer communication

  • Buttons for easier navigation when the customer just needs to “browse” or doing anything that doesn’t really require text-based inputs

    and lastly

  • A way for humans to intervene when buttons and NLP breakdown.

For anything purchase-related, you really need all 3 of those solutions to avoid a shit customer experience.

Again, different businesses and use-cases require different things.

(Joseph Burchett) #12

Well, I think it really depends on what you are making. If you want to direct the user down a particular path then buttons are the way to go. If you want it to be more freeform and based of users input then buttons really not needed that much.

The type of chat bots I am marking are all game based so buttons are an absolute need since the game is so complex and having the player constantly type stuff in would be a horrible experience.

(Wouter Biegsttaaten) #13

For me? Buttons and text… its just so convenient and it brings a splash of color to a page. Just text with link could be pretty boring for the eyes…

(@tomhewitson - conversation designer) #14

Both are necessary but it’s text that lets the magic happen. If all of your interactions are driven by buttons you should probably ask yourself whether you’d better meet your users’ needs through an app or website.

(Pelumi Aboluwarin) #15

For a quick reply with buttons in FB, the content of the button can be sent as a message which is the same as th euser typing it himself, just more convenient.

(alper) #16

You can design a chatbot flow to use mostly or only buttons with pretty decent results. NLP has many issues and feels like it is hard to get a grip on.

I don’t agree though that using buttons negates the notion of a chatbot. It is not NLP that is the most important part of this paradigm. The essential factors that make this new and different are still there even if you exclusively use buttons.

(Vinay Chandra) #17

Totally agree with you @alper. Most of the folks in my network whom I have suggested to test my Bot are looking for NLP irrespective of the context of the Bot. People do not understand that Bots are designed to be context driven and Bot builders will not waste time delivering weather information to every user.