Tag Archives: ui

“Featured contents” function design for instant messaging apps

Recently I studied IM Bots, but unfortunately every time that I experienced them on a Facebook Messenger I felt unsatisfied. Bots and AI are for sure the personal assistants of the future, but we must wait for their evolution and for our language adaptation (read my posts about Bots: Chatbots are contents, not conversations and Facebook Messenger’s Bots are direct, customizable and automated communication channels, not personal assistants).

Intead of Bots, in these months I used many times a lot of Chat Customer Services on some companies web sites and on Messenger. As all the studies say, communicating with a company through our favourite instant messaging app is smarter than downloading any branded app or using the old-fashioned email. My experience was great and these companies increased loyalty and my admiration.

Using Whatsapp, Messenger, Telgram or WeChat for companies is a great challenge for many technical and communicational factors:

  • Technical, because CRMs should access to IM platforms for identifying users and managing the requests trafic.
  • Communicational, because some contents should be always and easily available for customers instead of lose in the chat’s flow.

As a Product Manager I focused on the second problem and, starting from a Whatsapp-like layout, I designed the “Featured contents” function. The scope of this function is to enrich the discussion between the customer and the company saving the requested contents in a reserved area of the app.
Watch the “Featured contents” gif animation for understanding how it function in the direct relationship between a Hotel and its customer.

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Chatbots are contents, not conversations

After my first post about Facebook Messenger Bots, I continued my research because I understand the importance of Chatbots and Instant Messaging apps. Following a transcription of the presentation that I published on Slideshare.

The assumptions from where I started my reasearch are:

  • Users don’t want conversations. Users want pertinent and timely contents within the app that they use most.
  • Chatbots have the reason to exist because users don’t like to download lot of apps and because mobile sites are slow or difficult to navigate.
  • Chatbots are a communication channel with an interaction pattern in a sort of way similar to the natural language. They aren’t virtual sales agents.
  • Chatbots have the difficult mission to bring together contents and services within messaging apps.
  • The best chatbots performances aren’t based on conversations. Interacting with them requires new functions and a standardized command language.

So I can say that Chatbots are an important technology because:

  • they represent a way for engaging users within their favorite apps
  • they can replace apps and websites for simple and recurrent tasks
  • they are the only direct marketing channel comparable with the email
  • they revolutionize the smartphone’s push communication marketing
  • they are the entrance point for advanced data building programs
  • users interest in downloading branded apps is decreasing
  • mobile navigation sometimes is frustrating
  • users are accustomed in making Google searches in a conversational way

But this importance bring with it some threats:

  • chatbots can’t really understand natural language
  • chatbots can’t replace the all the other apps functions
  • chatbots could decrease the users curiosity and research capacity
  • chatbots will struggle for visibility
  • chatbots can’t wrong a lot of answers and they can’t ask too much questions
  • chatbots must care a lot about language, style, frequency and relevancy of their push contents
  • chatbots aren’t a branded channel

Chatbots are the future of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Direct Marketing for the following reasons:

  • because they deliver profiled offers and contents, receiving immediate feedbacks
  • because they are an effective support for the human-based customer care
  • because they will build accurate customers profiles analyzing the interactions and asking for information, ratings etc

Thinking about all these incredible opportunities, I examined the standard instant messaging apps user experience and I realized that Chatbots should have a dedicated set of functions that designed as following.

chatbot_dedicatedfunctions_ui_antoniopatti_1.jpg

At this point I tried to go practical matching my Chatbots functions and experience with some generalistic companies.

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The inspiring “Driving Paradox”

I work in Digital Communication and I’ve worked on the functional & user experience design of websites, mobile applications, advergames, digital signage systems and info kiosks.

I love cars and motorcycles since when I was a child. I remember very well the “procedure” that my parents had to apply first to start our old Fiat 500, the incredible internal design of the Renault 4 of my neighbour and the unintelligible fashion of the Motobecane Mobyx parked in my garage.

back-to-the-future-delorean

I think that cars and motorcycles are the most impressive demonstration of the humankind power of imagination and adaptation. Imagination because who put together the technology necessary for an “autonomous run” of a 4/2 wheels object for me was an artists, not an engineer. Adaptation because driving a car or a motorcycle is one of the most complex mixture of unnatural gestures that we have on the earth.

That’s the point. That’s the Driving Paradox.

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How to design for visual impaired people

This is the post that I wrote after the event “Design beyond design boundaries” for the Milan’s group of the Interaction Design Foundation.

Last Saturday September 20th, IDF Milan organized its 4th event “Design beyond visual boundaries” in collaboration with the Italian startup Horus Technology. The main objective of the workshop was to start designing the User Interface of their product.

Horus is a device that supports visually impaired people like a virtual assistant. It will be positioned on normal glasses and it will interact through audio bone conduction and a manual controller with buttons. Horus will have two 5mpx cameras, a separated battery pack and it won’t rely on internet/bluetooth connections to be functional.

occhiali1-1100x400

 

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Interaction Design related terms definitions

During the first Interaction Design Foundation Milan Chapter event, the group decided to define the most important interaction design related terms.

I started to approach professionally this field of Digital Communication a few months ago, but I care about User Experience since my first project in 2006.

My definitions are really general, almost philosophical. They are based on my daylife experience and on what I’m learning at Interaction Design Foundation courses.

UX is how users use and feel a digital product.

UI is what users see and use for interacting with a digital product.

IA is how contents and functions are titled and positioned in a digital product’s plain structure.

Usability is a digital product use efficiency rate.

Interaction Design is designing UX and IA and contributing to the UI.

Service Design is everything involves customers beyond the strictly digital product experience.

I hope you enjoy.
If you don’t, I agree with you. This is a User Experience feedback too 😉

ANSA’s site UX critical issues

March 26th the news agency ANSA launched its new web site (read the article in Italian).

For promoting a discussion on the IDF Milan group, I analyzed the ANSA’s design and I wrote down a UX critical issues list. But first of the list, I want to declare that I never used the ANSA web site and that beyond all the critics, I think that globally they did a good job, except for the point 4.

1) The header buttons are links to different services, function and sites. They are not coherent and not really visible. They seem graphical elements.

ANSA header

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2) The search field is not visible and could be confused with the other icons.

ANSA search field

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3) The “temi caldi” is confusing because it’s positioned in the breadcrumb position.

ANSA temi caldi

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The touchable future

Google and Microsoft are restyling the interfaces of a lot of their products and web sites. They are fighting in the office automation market, in the cloud services and in the mobile. Obviously they’ve different approach and different corporate images, but I think that there’s a convergent vision in their plans.
Look at Gmail, Greader, Gmap, G+, YouTube playlist and Chrome Start page design. They are really minimal and full of rectangular function buttons. All these functions seem to be designed to be touched, not only clicked. Imagine to use these web apps from a tablet or on a desktop with a big touch screen. It’s cool!
Once I touched my 17’ monitor thinking to write a new mail because I had the hands far from the mouse, and for me was instinctive touching the monitor.
See the little gallery of the new Google UI
touch

The same approach is recognizable in the Windows Phone and the new Metro interface of Win8, even if they are not comparable with the Google products. Microsoft is rectangularizing the start pages, not the internal applications/menus, but I’m writng about style and about the explicit differentiation from Apple with its rounded and confusing buttons.
Even the new Nokia Lumia 800 is differentiating from iPhone 4s using strong angles like the Mango interface. Love it!
Following a little gallery of the new Microsoft design approach.

I’m not a designer, but I think to be an heavy and careful user of Internet.
I think that Google is trying to reach a good interaction of its products from the touchable web with HTML5. Doing this it’s accidentally playing with Microsoft that is developing a new OS that in one core (Win 8 ) is designing three coherent UIs thanks to Metro interface and Mango.

I really think that in the future we’ll have a lot of touchable monitor in laptops and desktops, in one hand for the the decreasing costs, in another for our new interaction patterns. If you touch your smartphone while you are travelling on the bus, why you shouldn’t touch your office monitor reading a presentation or a document?

Anyway, I think that we are really running towards a future of touchable interfaces distributed in consumer devices like pc, tablets, smarphones, and professional devices like totem, interactive tables and whiteboars.

I’m pretty sure even that when we’ll have the perfect touch interface, someone will remember about Kinect, the real killer application in the Microsoft’s portfolio. Take a tour in Channel9. Here hundreds of users are experimenting the power of the body control, while Microsoft relased new SDKs and in the next year even the commercial use of Kinect. Simply great!

I’d like to design an application that uses the natural movements for the classic web applications. I’ll post it here, so check it out!

That’s onf!