The Art (and Science) of Intelligent Conversation
Developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

We’re closely following the current media coverage about developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI). The large-scale speculation of the benefits (less time spent doing mind-numbing tasks or the potential to ‘solve’ cancer) and the negatives (from the loss of manufacturing and retail jobs to aggressive robots) have been widely reported. Google’s DeepMind has had specific interest, particularly surrounding the use of personal medical data and impressive advances in its ability to translate languages.

In our world of website design and content creation, keeping up with technology and best practice is vital and we are constantly updating the front- and back-end functionality of client’s sites. ‘Getting it right’ is a continuous process. With the take-up of Internet of Things and increasing automation, it’s mind-boggling to imagine what websites will be like (and how they’ll be designed) in ten, or even twenty years’ time! It’s highly likely that the current interface as we know it will be completely different.

Right now, the development of the conversational interface (CI) is the next step along the road of enhancing the user journey and engaging directly with users. There is a stronger move away from the graphical interface and towards computers learning how to interact with us. Chatbots are already taking hold – where voice is the key interface – and the communication either pre-defined or generative. The growth has been driven by increased mobile use, huge developments in AI and language processing, the rise in wearables and integrated payment such as Apple Pay. Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Magic and Amazon Echo are all examples platforms that allow users to ask questions, get quick answers, and potentially pull them away from Google search. Many of these not only include chat, but also interweave maps, photos, videos and shopping comparisons.

In his blog Technology Imitates Art, Paul Campillo says:

“CI looks to be the primary interface that much of the world will interact with in the foreseeable future.”

Messaging apps have now surpassed social networks, and more and more people are turning to Siri and Echo to answer burning questions, dim the lights, check the weather or even checking if an outfit works with Echo Look. As this shows, conversational interfaces are great for certain kinds of interactions where an objective third party might be needed (or even preferred), such as booking the cheapest flights to Madrid, ordering food and drink or making sure your first date outfit looks great! For brands, they are particularly good for on-boarding new users and being available for existing users when they want.

Consumers are learning to engage with their computers differently. Soon, we won’t just browse a shoe shop to complete an outfit, we’ll talk to a website to view a selection of suggested shoes that suit. Responses will be a combination of text, video, voice and images and even hologram. These kinds of conversational AI platforms mean that brands will be able to offer lifelike (and perhaps even friendlier!) communication, that is very similar to wandering around a store. Improvements in our online profiles, and the data available about us, means that brands can learn preferences and tastes and make sophisticated suggestions based on those. The result? Increased brand loyalty, improved customer service and the delivery of a highly personalised experienced.

The impact that AI and conversational interfaces will have on the way we design websites as an immersive experience is very exciting. The advancements improve a computer’s ability to communicate in a human way and this is a great time for us to work with clients willing to think outside a traditional website interface and experiment with technologies that are enabling leading brands to stand out.

A meaningful conversation can improve lives and relationships, change beliefs, make someone’s day and inspire action. We’re listening out to seeing how CI technology develops in elegance and creative execution across our digital world.