There has been a great hullabaloo in the last few months about the rise of chatbots, and discussions of “conversational UIs” or, even more radically, the concept of “no UI”—the idea that services might not need a UI at all.
This latter concept is quite interesting: I’ve written in the past about one-shot interactions. But chatbots aren’t the answer to that problem: because chatbots Scenario 2: Chat Someone at Shazam decides that apps are a bit old-fashioned and decides to build a chatbot.
To get those users to use your chatbot, you need to convince them to set up an account on a chat network that supports your bot. Now, in fairness, Whats App are planning to change this situation at some point, but you still have an issue to deal with: what if your users don’t have an account on the messaging service used by the bot platform?European Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese and Angolan Portuguese? If you tell a user “here’s our website, it’s in English, but we’ve got a rough German translation”, that’s… I use a website that is primarily in German everyday, and the English translation is incomplete. If, instead, your service promised to understand everything I say, then completely failed to speak my language, that’d be a bit of a fuck you to the user.In the chatbot future, the engineering resources go into making it work in English, and then we just ignore anyone who speaks anything that isn’t English. Well, if we’re getting rid of the ‘web’ bit, we may as well get rid of the ‘world’ and ‘wide’ while we’re at it.In terms of language, the process isn’t complex: you just replace your strings with calls to gettext or a locale file, and then you have someone translate all the strings.There’s sometimes a bit of back and forth because there’s something that doesn’t really make sense in a language so you have to refactor a bit.