For the past three decades, Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) have monopolized UI design. Most websites and apps rely on a combination of text, images, buttons, forms and myriad other visual elements to enable user interaction. In some ways this is amazing! GUIs can be customized for individual use cases and with the right amount of thought, they can be made to look truly beautiful. But, as average users are inundated with more apps and websites everyday GUIs are showing signs of aging.
Uniqueness can be used to differentiate products, but when users are inundated with too many marginally different interfaces every single day, the process of interacting with the internet becomes annoying. As Cliff Kuang at FastCo describes it:
There’s an enormous amount of friction associated with learning about a new app, downloading it, signing up for it, and then remembering you even have it.
Take Domino’s as an example. On the Domino’s website, you have to first navigate to the menu. Once there, you’re greeted by an overwhelming list of pizzas. Click on one of the pizzas and you are redirected to that pizza’s information page which consists of a picture and several options, half of which you won’t use. Go to the cart, yet another page. Checkout? Another page. Confirm your order? Yet another webpage. The whole experience is messy.
The solution to this problem is chat.
This chatbot for example does a pretty good job replacing the Domino’s ordering process with a scripted bot.
There are no redirects, no loading times and no sudden visual jerks from one information heavy screen to another.
Most importantly, however, the user doesn’t need to learn any thing to use a chat UI. With the growing popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger, the basic template of message bubbles and an input box has become ubiquitous.
The upshot of these benefits is that if businesses use chat as their primary UI, they can reduce the friction between visitors to their website or app and buying their products.