The FYI on AI and why it’s so great for UX.
Artificial Intelligence? Isn’t that something to do with robots? Well yes and no.
While the AI ‘machines’ in question aren’t quite the same as those, quite frankly terrifying, things from the Terminator, they are here to take over the world. But that’s a good thing.
Powering many of the machines we use in our everyday lives, from our computers, smartphones, tablets, and even our cars, AI bots have an increasingly important role to play in optimising our experiences.
It’s this concept of ‘experience’ that is so important in the world of web development. Designing the perfect user experience (UX) is something we put at the forefront of any project, so we’re more excited than most about the opportunities that AI can bring.
AI and UX have a shared goal - to give website users exactly what they need. We have specialised in usability testing for many years; providing businesses and website owners with insights into who their web users really are, how they use their website(s) and what they want to achieve.
Artificial intelligence allows us to go one step further; gathering data to not only interpret but to predict human behaviour.
Think about every conversation you have had with a prospect. In response to any objections, doubts or questions posed by them, do you continue to talk ‘at them’ with pre-rehearsed lines about how good your product or service is, without deviating from the script? Of course not.
Instead, you adapt your message and the words you use based on what they are telling you - both directly and subliminally - and steer them toward a satisfying conclusion… and one step closer to your product or service.
Now imagine you can do this in the digital world, automatically, a thousand times a minute. This is what AI makes possible.
Perhaps the single most exciting aspect of AI is this ability to personalise the user experience.
From the moment a user lands on a webpage, the AI bots get busy. By mapping the user journey, AI can predict their next move and deliver automatic, intuitive responses in the form of machine-generated text, photos and even videos in real time.
These personal experiences work wonders for relevancy and engagement, two hugely important factors when it comes to conversion. With AI, digital marketers can officially close the door on the ineffective one-size-fits-all approach and enter into a new, more personalised world that is set to make a massive difference to bottom lines.
Consumers will no longer tolerate generic, irrelevant content. They want to feel special and they want to access information that is relevant to them, and quickly. It's a fact that users will click off a page in less than 15 seconds if they don't see the content they want, or expect to see; but with AI we can make all of this a thing of the past.
With machine-learning, a subset of AI, we can analyse what type of online content is most relevant to users and use this to give them highly-relevant and timely recommendations. This could be recommendations for what to read, click or purchase next. Look at how well companies such as Amazon do this - it's how they generate an extra 33% of revenue. What ecommerce website out there wouldn't kill for that kind of ROI?
AI enhances the user experience in such a way that web users almost feel like the whole environment was designed especially for them, and for businesses, cross-selling has never been so easy!
One often-overlooked aspect of website design is the humble internal search box. But ignore this at your peril!
Site search can increase conversion rates by up to 50 per cent, and by offering an intuitive, user-friendly search experience powered by AI - one that really ‘gets’ what consumers are looking for, businesses can help them find their products and services with ease.
This, as well as giving users a warm fuzzy feeling, puts them firmly in control of their browsing or shopping experience (they like that) and offers fantastic potential for repeat purchases.
Chatbots are another great example of how AI can enhance the user experience. Using natural language processing (which interprets text or speech into something meaningful), combined with machine learning data, chatbots can be used to help a user along their journey in the event that they get stuck or have questions.
These handy little bots are now so sophisticated that it’s hard to tell whether you’re talking to a robot or a human. Chatbots are by no means ‘new’, but it’s thanks to AI that they have evolved so much. Rather than simply using pre-scripted responses to a set number of queries, they can ‘answer back’ to users in real time.
Plus, behind the scenes, chatbots collect background data, such as information on location, device and user preferences, that is then used to improve future responses further.
According to Google, 20% of searches are now made via voice. This makes the potential of voice recognition hard to ignore. Website owners can take advantage of this increasingly popular form of AI by integrating voice search into the user experience.
Like chatbots, voice interaction is possible thanks to natural language processing, which has come on in leaps and bounds over the last two years. This means that we are finally at a point in time where voice is a very viable alternative, or addition, to traditional interfaces, rather than just a gimmick (“Alexa - what’s the weather like today?” gets old pretty quickly).
Voice’s ability to personalise search, provide information in real time and ultimately boost the whole user experience makes it a very exciting prospect for web developers. And for users; it enables them to interact with websites and search engines naturally, instinctively and quickly - enhancing both the relevancy and enjoyment of their experience. Who wouldn’t be excited about that?
We mentioned at the beginning of this blog that AI is here to take over the world, but it’s worth mentioning that this by no means implies that we humans can simply sit back and let the machines do all the work.
UX in particular still needs the human touch. Without input from a real life person, there’s nothing for AI to build on, and the very thing that makes it so exciting - its ability to interpret, react and respond to user requests in a relevant, human-like way, will be lost.
That’s why we always start a project by sitting down with our clients and figuring out what their audience wants and the best way to give it to them. The fact that we now have AI as a tool to help us meet the needs of users, simply makes our job that much more awesome.