Conversation Design: the new kid on your business

June 14th, 2023
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Today, the word “conversation” is defined by google as, “a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged”. This sentence will soon encompass people and machines.


Over the years, companies have always worked towards meeting their customers exactly where they’re at, so that the information they need is always accessible.
It started with websites, that gave rise to interface design. Then mobile applications, that gave rise to User Experience Design. The next platform shift – to AI assistants – is the rising value of Conversation Design. It’s trendy, progressive and the way to optimise interfaces like chatbots and voice assistants for customer service, marketing and sales for example. Popular chatbots and voice assistants include Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Samsung’s Bixby. Conversation Designers give life and personality to these chatbots and voice assistants.


Conversation Design, design
Conversation Design is the practice of designing conversational experiences between humans and AI assistants. The design relies on the confluence of technology, psychology and conversational copywriting. It’s aim? To create natural and engaging interactions. Similar to the work of UX writers, Conversation Designers add a neutral human touch to the UX of AI interfaces.


Conversation Designers map out the entire conversation, into a detailed design spec, between a user and an AI assistant. Their work is based on business requirements, research, logic and human conversation principles. So that, as Google defines conversation, ‘news and ideas are exchanged’ and the experience is more meaningful for the user and the business.


To do their job effectively, conversation designers need to understand the psychology of conversations as well as conversational principles.


The psychology of conversation
Since the driving force behind Conversation Design is, well, conversation, Conversation Designers need to understand the psychology of conversations. It’s predicated amongst other traits, on listening, understanding, engagement, mutual respect, and cooperation. In Conversation Design, just as in human interactions, certain conversational principles define the outcome of the experience. One such principle is the cooperative principle.


The cooperative principle
During a conversation, we cooperate by using common ground, mutual knowledge and inferences; this helps the conversation move forward efficiently and ensures that we reach our goals.


Philosopher h. Paul Grice introduced the cooperative principle in his 1975 article “logic and conversation” in which he stated that “talk exchanges” were not merely a “succession of disconnected remarks”.


According to Grice, meaningful dialogue requires cooperation, underpinned by four conversational maxims:


  1. Quality: providing information that is true, factual and accurate.
  2. Quantity: providing as much information as is required in the conversation, no more and no less.
  3. Relevance: providing information that is useful, helpful and contributes to the goal.
  4. Manner: ensuring that there is no obscurity or ambiguity. It’s important to be brief and orderly.


Talk is valuable
As companies leverage the power of AI, Conversation Design bridges the gap between human and machine, making the engagement more natural and conversational. It puts the user in control by making it easier for them to find what they are looking for without having to wait for a human agent to get to their problem. Because the ideas on how to do that most efficiently, are already part of the system design.


Your go-toTM for Conversation Design
If you would like to set up a conversation, “in which news and ideas are exchanged” on how conversation design can enhance your AI assistants, get in touch:

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