The internet and smartphone revolution has given us incredible powers, but it has undoubtedly made our lives more complex. As we navigate the endless landscape of interconnected dots — made up of apps and websites — one thing becomes increasingly clear: The web that was designed in the ’90s doesn’t work anymore.
It has to change fundamentally. Or, more specifically — it has to be simplified!
In a world full of noise and chaos, we’re constantly running around trying to get things done. From checking our social feeds to replying to that important message from a friend; from placing an order for dinner to finding a logo designer — every task is full of decision trees that fuel our anxiety and create overwhelming inefficiency. And the clutter of services, information, and experiences makes it virtually impossible to get exactly what you want, when you want it, and how you want it.
And that’s where bots, and conversational interfaces in general, provide a ray of hope. Bots challenge us to design more humane experiences for billions of users. With smart conversational interfaces, we are looking at a radically different way of doing everything.
Let’s look at the five main reasons bots and conversational interfaces have the potential to replace apps — and even their ancestors, websites.
1. A more intuitive feel
At a rudimentary level, our lives are centered around communication with other people in order to get things done. This is basic to our experience of being human — no learning curve, no advanced skills, just conversation. Our preference for direct communication is evidenced by the rapid rise of various messaging apps and platforms, such as WeChat. In a cluttered space, conversational bots provide much-needed simplicity to help us achieve a given task via a natural interaction.
2. A unified interface
If we critically evaluate and strip down various UI elements, all websites and apps become merely a collection of standard buckets of information: the service or product being offered and any other relevant information, such as social feeds. This can be neatly packaged into a conversational interface and offered via bots. When conversation is the main form of interaction, a variety of tasks can be performed by simply chatting with a bot (or a combination of a bot and a customer representative). Whether it’s ordering a pizza or hiring a math tutor, anything can be made usable in a conversational interface.
3. Easy onboarding
One of the major issues apps face today is the “download and sign-up” process, which creates a lot of friction for users before they can try a new product or service. Most Americans download zero apps per month. With bots offering the same interface for almost every task, setup can be taken out of the onboarding equation. Any service provider can create a bot, and users can simply start a conversation with it on demand — no installation, no sign-up.
4. Technological superiority
Apps and websites offer a static experience and very little personalization. Bots used to behave in a similar fashion, but advancement in natural language understanding — or in some cases A.I. — in the context of conversations has made bots smarter and more scalable. They can constantly learn from users’ behavior and offer increasingly personalized responses. The bot you interacted with on your first visit will be very different from the bot you interact with on your hundredth visit.
5. Cheaper and faster deployment
Bots are not just preferred from the demand side but also from the supply side — developers love them. Creating a bot on any leading messaging platform is much less complicated than building a native iOS or Android app. With the rise of numerous bot-building platforms, it has become even easier to deploy on multiple platforms at once. Bots certainly offer distinct advantages in overall experience and development, although developers must exercise caution when designing for high-security use cases, such as banking.