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Designography 101: How to design user-friendly interfaces

Designing a user-friendly interface that can cater to your entire target audience domain is not as simple as it seems. We often play with different design approaches and analyse user interactions in our websites/products. This user-behaviour testing helps us to improve the interfaces and enhance the UX. And then the entire cycle repeats.

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How Automating Our Deployments Workflow Made Our Team More Productive

Deployments used to be a nightmare. Traditionally, the phases of deployments could take several hours or even days. But in the era of CI/CD, companies are shipping out product updates in minutes. You’ve probably heard of the term CI/CD being thrown around quite a lot lately. In simple terms, it’s a combined practise of Continuous Integration and either Continuous Delivery or Continuous Deployment.

As a growing startup, we started with no CI/CD at all and after some time, we realised that it caused a lot of headaches for everyone involved. Every time there was a new change, we had to manually build new images, test, update deployment files and manually deploy. It also did not help that bugs kept on coming, and hours were spent in maintaining deployments and keeping production running.

Needless to say, we have improved a lot since then. After roughly 600 automated deployments, here’s what we learned about CI/CD:

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How We Used Contentful to Build a Chatbot That Helps With Everyday Legal Problems

Have you been laid off? Are you behind on your bills? Need to renegotiate a contract?

In any of these situations, you may need legal information. And if you live in British Columbia, Canada, you can chat with Beagle to get it. (Try it—click the Messenger chat icon on the bottom-right of this page.)

Tangowork is the technical partner and chatbot consultant to People’s Law School on the Beagle project, with Agentic Digital Media providing design expertise. People’s Law School is a non-profit society in British Columbia dedicated to making the law accessible to everyone.

For our chatbot technical stack, we chose Contentful to manage the content and Rasa to power the chatbot AI. In this post, we discuss the reasons we chose Contentful for content management and the way we approached integration.

Contentful: One system to manage content across channels

A good chatbot requires a tremendous amount of content. Beagle’s team of lawyers spent several months writing and editing over 3000 replies across 71 topics.

We realized that the new chatbot content was so approachable and easy to read that it would be a shame if we didn’t use it on the website as well. But no one liked the idea of managing content in two places. So we started to explore the concept of “headless” content management systems — systems that manage just the content, leaving you to decide where that content is used.

We examined Ghost, headless Drupal, headless WordPress, and a handful of others. Nothing seemed to be as mature and purpose-built as Contentful. We ran some experiments with it, liked what we saw, and decided to move forward.

Using Contentful for the chatbot

We use Rasa, an open source chatbot engine, to analyze input and decide how to respond. Rasa doesn’t generate language — all possible responses have been written in advance. Rasa simply returns the name of a template to use. Then we retrieve that template from Contentful.

For example, in response to “i got laid off”, Rasa returns laidOff. Then a piece of middleware, built by our development team, calls the Contentful API and requests the content associated with laidOff. Contentful responds with the content, and then we format the text and send it to the chatbot:

Content is delivered from Contentful straight to the chatbot

Using Contentful for the website

The chatbot response to “i got laid off” works perfectly as the introductory paragraph to a webpage. The chatbot buttons, such as “What to know”, show as website headings. Individual chatbot speech bubbles show as website subheadings and paragraphs. (Read more about the website project in How you can grow your website traffic 51%—overnight—by radically increasing speed.)

Content is identical in both the chatbot and the website — it’s just reformatted

Certain pieces of text aren’t appropriate for both the chatbot and the website. For example, we use emoji more liberally in chat. For those instances, we surround the text in question with a span tag like this: <span class="chatOnly">Cool, eh? 😎</span>. The text is then suppressed in the channel where it doesn’t apply.

The Contentful editing interface is easy for content authors to understand

Changing text in Contentful instantly updates both the chatbot and the website

Unified content management in Contentful makes high-quality content easier

People’s Law School has a very high standard for content. After multiple drafts by their legal content developers, content passes to a plain language reviewer, who performs another check to ensure it’s as clear and easy to read as possible. Finally, it’s reviewed for accuracy by one of a host of external lawyers.

If this legal review process had to happen twice — once for website content, and once for chatbot content — it would be unsustainable. Instead, Contentful allows us to manage a single set of content, and publish it in two places: on a website and on a chatbot.

And it doesn’t need to stop there. We can theoretically produce PDFs or other printed collateral via Contentful. Indeed, we’re using maximum-resolution images in Contentful’s media library in case we go down that path. (Contentful resizes and downsamples images on the fly for delivery to the website and chatbot.)

The lawyers at People’s Law School are thrilled with Contentful as their unified content management solution. “Contentful is fast, easy to use and flexible,” says Drew Jackson, lawyer and project lead. “There’s nothing we’ve tried to do with it that it couldn’t handle. And I’m relieved that when the law changes, we don’t have to update both the website and the chatbot. We change the content once, and it updates everywhere.”

Chris McGrath

Chris McGrath

Founder, Consultant

Chris loves working on elegant software solutions to difficult problems. He often speaks on topics related to websites, intranets and chatbots. He co-founded ThoughtFarmer, an intranet platform used worldwide. He has a terrible poker face, a mediocre golf swing and a penchant for hasty decisions. On the plus side, he pulls a mean espresso, speaks two obscure languages (Serbo-Croatian and St. Lucian Creole), and never says no to an invitation to go kiteboarding.

Tangowork Chatbot Consulting

Tangowork’s consultants use research, design and technology to help your organization create better digital experiences. We specialize in intranets, AI assistants and high-performance websites.

The post How We Used Contentful to Build a Chatbot That Helps With Everyday Legal Problems appeared first on Tangowork: Consultants for Intranets, AI Assistants, Fast Websites.

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The Combined Power of Chatbots, Predictive Analytics, and Sentiment Analysis

Over the last several years, the topic of automation has gotten a great deal of attention. It’s fairly widely accepted that we are in the beginning stages of what has been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. AI’s ability to automate many routine tasks is at the heart of the notion of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In parallel, I’ve been having some interesting conversations with clients and contacts about the use of predictive analytics, in the form of sentiment analysis, in chat channels. One way to think about this is trying to tap into the power of prediction by using AI to pick up on weak signals of sentiment or preferences that customers might indicate within a conversation (in this case via chat or messenger services).