11 Conversational User Interface Designing Best Practices

A Conversational User Interface is a new way of interacting with technology. It is a radically different approach to building human-computer interfaces and one that has the potential to change how we interact with machines in the future. While we’re still in the early days of CUI design, there are some best practices to keep in mind.

Maintain Consistency

Consistency is essential in CUI design. This means maintaining a consistent visual style and tone and ensuring that spoken word and written language work together seamlessly. A user-friendly environment can be created for all users through consistent terminology, layout, and formatting (e.g., color, fonts), maximizing their time spent with your application and minimizing confusion.

Recognize Universal Usability Requirement

Recognize that diverse users have different needs and design accordingly. By designing for plasticity, you make it possible to transform content as requirements change over time—related to age ranges, disabilities such as color-blindness or dyslexia, international variations (e.g., metric versus imperial measurements), technological diversity among devices and platforms used by your audience, etc. 

Adding features that appeal to novices or experts can enliven the interface design and boost users’ satisfaction.

Provide Interface Feedback

Give feedback on the success or failure of actions. This is another way to reduce user anxiety and frustration. Users must know how their actions affect the system and what’s happening next. For example, if an action causes a new window or tab to open, make it easy for users to return to their original location with one click or keystroke.

Design Dialogues that end with Clear Confirmation

Give users a clear indication of the outcome of their actions. If an action is successful, let them know; if it’s not, give them some idea of the error and how to fix it. For example, if someone clicks a button, but nothing happens, consider adding an error message or highlighting the button to indicate that it’s active.

Prevent Errors

When designing the interface, try to prevent users from making serious errors; for example, make grayed-out menu items unavailable and do not allow alphabetic characters in numeric entry fields. If users make a mistake, the interface should offer simple and clear instructions on how to fix it.

Offer the Ease of Action Reversal

If a user takes action and then realizes the result was not what they wanted, they should have the option to reverse it quickly and easily. For example, if someone deletes a file by mistake, offer them an Undo command so that they can restore it.

Make the User feel in Charge

More experienced users desire a feeling of control over the interface and will be frustrated if what they do does not produce results as expected. To feel in control, the user needs to know what they are supposed to do next. Make sure instructions are clear and easy to follow.

Decrease Short-term Memory Load

The less a user has to remember, the better. If your interface has many different elements on the screen simultaneously, consider ways to reduce the number of items requiring immediate attention. 

For example, if a user needs to enter information in multiple fields (such as an email address and password), consider putting them together on one line or offering users a dropdown menu with pre-filled options rather than forcing them to type each field individually.

Keep Help readily Available

While a user interface should be intuitive enough that users can figure out how to use it without consulting documentation, there may be times when you need to provide instructions. In situations like these, help and documentation should be easy to find.

Remember to make documentation optional, as experienced users may find it irritating to be confronted with the material they already know.

Offer Conceptual Familiarity to the Users

Recognition is easier than learning: a well-designed interface allows users to perform familiar tasks without overthinking how best to accomplish them. Do your best to make an interaction with a machine feel natural and easy. Keep users on familiar ground by reassuring them that they are proceeding correctly.

Prevent Distractions

Keep your user focused on what they are trying to do. Don’t distract them with unnecessary features or information. Remove all elements that get in the way of efficient navigation and interaction with content.

How CUIs can Bring a Paradigm Shift in the World of AI

We’re on the brink of a remarkable shift in how computers and humans interact. Computer systems that study and learn from our communications are poised to usher in a new era of collaboration between humans and computers.

The continued development of machine learning, speech recognition, and natural language processing will make computing more intuitive. While we’re not quite there yet, conversational interfaces will eventually make sharing and accessing information more efficient for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is conversational interface design?

A conversational interface allows users to write or speak in natural language to software instead of using a graphical user interface. It is smart enough to understand what the user wants to do.

What are the golden rules of user interface design?

The golden rules of UI are 1. Placing Users in Control, 2. Reducing Users’ Memory Load, and 3. Making the Interface Consistent.

What are the 6 interface design principles?

The 6 principles of user interface design are Structure, Simplicity, Visibility, Feedback, Tolerance, and Reuse.