If we get past the hype, we can build a better bot.
As we look to a future of interaction design, I challenge this new medium to be more than just a novelty.
As I look to the future of interaction design, I challenge a new medium to be more than just a novelty.

What I Did

In late 2016, I immersed myself in the study of bots and conversational interfaces. The prevalence of bots, assistants, and conversational UX is on the rise, and I’m passionate about the future of this medium as a tool for brands to build a relationship with their audience and provide valuable experiences. So far, I’ve written the first articles in a series about bot design, launched my own bot that you can talk to right now, and am currently working on several other bot concepts.

Overview

Project Goals

Become a credible authority on a new medium in a short period of time.
Apply thoughtful design techniques to challenge existing beliefs and practices.
Use this new medium to create something more purposeful than what people are already doing.

Skills and Methods

Product Strategy
Active Product Management
Conversational UX Design
Interaction Design
Information Architecture
Game Design
UX Research & Usability Testing
Use Case & Journey Mapping
Digital Prototyping
Illustration & Visual Design
- Product Strategy
- Active Product Management
- Conversational UX Design
- Interaction Design
- Information Architecture
- Game Design
- UX Research & Usability Testing
- Use Case & Journey Mapping
- Digital Prototyping
- Illustration & Visual Design

Articles

I’ve been writing a series of articles on Medium about bot design. In them, I look at the causes behind bot popularity, the strategic mindset behind creating one, and the tactics involved with executing those ideas. I approach the topic from a place of healthy skepticism, something that I feel is missing from much of the writing on and buzz around bots and AI.

Bots

While there are a wide range of use cases for messenger bots, I looked at three categories in particular:

Entertainment

Hello, Dungeon
A text-adventure RPG game

Retail

Hot Topic T-Shirt Wall
A new way to interact with a retail brand

Information

Capitol Whip
Making civic duty more accessible
Hello, Dungeon is the first (and at the time of this writing, only) text adventure RPG bot. You take on the role of a “delver,” a dungeon raider with a contract to find a mysterious “item of power.” To uncover the story, you’ll have to solve deadly puzzles, fend off dangerous monsters, and endure the Narrator’s snarky commentary on your failures. 

I created Hello, Dungeon with copywriter Clayton Notestine to test the idea that people have trouble navigating complicated dialogue trees while speaking with a bot. If the conversation were in the form of a game, would people still have trouble remembering the choices they made and the things they said? So far, all but a few people have made it to the end of the game, and the reception has been incredibly positive. But don’t take my word for it, go try it yourself here.
You can use Facebook Messenger to scan this code and start a conversation with Hello, Dungeon. Go to your profile, tap your messenger code, and tap “scan code.”
Key Features
Player Voice
Tonally distinct dialogue choices enable the player to choose their persona while allowing us to keep the gameplay confined to quick replies while still remaining interesting.
Adaptability
The game adapts to these choices both in the Narrator’s tone and in the gameplay itself. Storylines branch and opportunities appear or disappear based on the choices that players make.
Loot & Danger
I created an inventory and respawn system that translated the familiar trappings of an rpg into a part of the conversation. I made sure that players could laugh at their death and jump right back in, rather than walk away frustrated.
You can use Facebook Messenger to scan this code and start a conversation with Hello, Dungeon. Go to your profile, tap your messenger code, and tap “scan code.”
Key Features
Player Voice
Tonally distinct dialogue choices enable the player to choose their persona while allowing us to keep the gameplay confined to quick replies while still remaining interesting.
Adaptability
The game adapts to these choices both in the Narrator’s tone and in the gameplay itself. Storylines branch and opportunities appear or disappear based on the choices that players make.
Loot & Danger
I created an inventory and respawn system that translated the familiar trappings of an rpg into a part of the conversation. I made sure that players could laugh at their death and jump right back in, rather than walk away frustrated.
Iterations
We’ve been iterating upon and refining Hello, Dungeon since launching it. We can see, in real time, where people get stuck, where they get bored, and where we need to make changes. There isn’t any wireframing to speak of here, but what I do work with on this project are massive text documents that rely on my ability to organize large amounts of data and visualize the connections between them.
I spent a lot of time in Hot Topic as a kid, so it’s no surprise that one of my most exciting projects this year was to rebrand the dungeon-like mall outlet. Right now, the former pop culture powerhouse is so irrelevant that it isn’t even a cultural punchline, but my team and I envisioned them as a brand with opportunity knocking at their door. By going back to their musical roots, taking stock of what’s relevant, and regaining their edge, Hot Topic would become a curator of alternative pop culture. Hot Topic could stand for something again.

We redesigned the brand, store, and product offerings from the ground up, taking them out of malls and elevating their offerings to high quality music merchandise.
The T-Shirt Wall Bot
One very important element of the brand identity that we kept was the t-shirt wall. We kept it in the store, made it a key activation of the campaign, and then brought it out into the world, where customers could interact with it through Facebook messenger to buy shirts. The interactive t-shirt walls would be physical arrangements of shirts that lived near our 15 “destination stores” (we proposed closing 2/3 of all mall stores) that staff would update regularly to encourage repeat interactions.

To get a shirt, all someone has to do is go up to the t-shirt wall, send it a message over Facebook, choose a shirt from the grid, provide shipping and billing info, and confirm their purchase. Voilà, a shirt is en route to the customer, who can track and manage their order all through Facebook Messenger. The interactive t-shirt wall drives revenue to the new Hot Topic in a way that no brand has done yet.
One very important element of the brand identity that we kept was the t-shirt wall. We kept it in the store, made it a key activation of the campaign, and then brought it out into the world, where customers could interact with it through Facebook messenger to buy shirts. The interactive t-shirt walls would be physical arrangements of shirts that lived near our 15 “destination stores” (we proposed closing 2/3 of all mall stores) that staff would update regularly to encourage repeat interactions.

To get a shirt, all someone has to do is go up to the t-shirt wall, send it a message over Facebook, choose a shirt from the grid, provide shipping and billing info, and confirm their purchase. Voilà, a shirt is en route to the customer, who can track and manage their order all through Facebook Messenger. The interactive t-shirt wall drives revenue to the new Hot Topic in a way that no brand has done yet.
Hey! You can check out the rest of my project to rebrand and reposition Hot Topic here:
Hey! You can check out the rest of my project to rebrand and reposition Hot Topic here:
To the mall dungeon!
Capitol Whip is an information resource designed to help the average person make sense of and vote in the 2018 United States Congressional Elections. There’s never been a more important time to be involved in American politics, and the 2014 midterm elections had the lowest turnout in 70 years. 

The name is a reference to the party whip, an enforcer in both the Senate and House who is responsible for keeping the party in attendance for votes and voting in line with the party. 

Right now, I’m in the process of analyzing all the information, which is putting my information architecture skills to use in a way that I haven’t experienced since AP Poli Sci in high school. Whip’s personality is akin to an aging Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec, and I’m looking for a copywriter to help me express this mix of eternal youth and the wisdom of age.

This was initially supposed to be a non-partisan resource, but given the current state of American politics and the way that the Republican party has been using their control of the House, I need to rethink this plan.
Capitol Whip is an information resource designed to help the average person make sense of and vote in the 2018 United States Congressional Elections. There’s never been a more important time to be involved in American politics, and the 2014 midterm elections had the lowest turnout in 70 years. 

The name is a reference to the party whip, an enforcer in both the Senate and House who is responsible for keeping the party in attendance for votes and voting in line with the party. 

Right now, I’m in the process of analyzing all the information, which is putting my information architecture skills to use in a way that I haven’t experienced since AP Poli Sci in high school. Whip’s personality is akin to an aging Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec, and I’m looking for a copywriter to help me express this mix of eternal youth and the wisdom of age.

This was initially supposed to be a non-partisan resource, but given the current state of American politics and the way that the Republican party has been using their control of the House, I need to rethink this plan.

Thanks for reading!

I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments, or if you’re interested in working together. Drop me a line some time.

Thanks for reading!

I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments, or if you’re interested in working together. Drop me a line some time.
Contact Me