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Do you think that chat­bots will over­take web­sites in the near fu­ture? An­dreas Kviby, Swe­den

JB: In a word: no. His­tor­i­cally, when new forms of me­dia or in­ter­face are in­tro­duced they tend to be ad­di­tive rather than a re­place­ment. For ex­am­ple, we still lis­ten to ra­dio even though we have tele­vi­sion. That said, user be­hav­iour will con­tinue to change, along with our idea of what it’s most ap­pro­pri­ate for web­sites to do. So, when it comes to user ex­pe­ri­ence, it will be even more im­por­tant for web de­sign­ers to con­sider the dif­fer­ent chan­nels and op­tions avail­able.

One of the things that chat­bots aren’t cur­rently great at is chat­ting. How­ever, the user re­search that I’ve been in­volved in has shown that this isn’t ac­tu­ally what peo­ple want. Some of the most suc­cess­ful bots at present act more like guided nav­i­ga­tion to ei­ther help peo­ple find the right piece of content or to com­plete a de­ci­sion-tree-like process.

The ap­pli­ca­tions for bots are wide rang­ing though. As they get to know in­di­vid­u­als and more in­for­ma­tion about

their lives and var­i­ous ex­ter­nal fac­tors, they can be­come great at every­thing from re­port­ing traf­fic jams to warn­ing that a day might be a bad day for any­one suf­fer­ing from al­ler­gies.

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