In-Class Exercise 1

In Class Exercise II: Personalities

tl;dr: When we talk to bots we expect them to behave like humans. To do this we need to inject some personality. As part of this exercise we'll begin to map out your bots personality, explore how this becomes manifest in conversation and map out the script for your bot.

We have a history of injecting personality into the things we make, in a bid to make mechanical things more human. - [Aarron Walter ](

Personality are a huge component of user interface design. It build emotion, engagement and experience. On the web, this can include anything from brand, logo, color, textures and other visual elements to the sounds, behaviors and interactions with the on-screen interfact elements.

When we design bots, we’re designing personality through something much simpler, text and conversation. But its equally as powerful. Bots and microservices with well-designed personality are the ones that seem to stand apart. They’re elevated from functional agents. They’re no longer pragmatic interactions but humanized. This addition of personality is powerful. Many many people have already noted this, so I won’t restate the whys and wherefors of it…

But the question is, how do we start to prototype and design it. The best way is on paper. In this exercise, we’ll mix elements of persona design, empathy mapping, and writing scripts to quickly build out the personality of our bots.

We’ll move through three exercises to do just this.

The goal here is to think of your bot as a person and not as a series of features.

Personality Sketch

Personas help focus attention… Although creating an empathy map is not the rigorous, research based process that is required for developing personas, it can quickly get a group to focus on the most important element: people.

Or in this case: personality.

For about 15 minutes, complete the worksheet provided.

In this exercise, you’ll be creating a ‘biographical’ and ‘physcological’ sketch of your bot. You’ll start by giving your bot a name.

  1. Naming your bot. Skip the product name for a minute and imagine your bot as a living breathing human. Imagine your bot is in a call center somewhere. A real person. That’s talking to you. What name would it have? Is it a man or a woman? What does the voice sound like in your head? Spend a moment thinking about this. The name is the most important element of a persona. It’s a simple way to encode and convey a lot of useful information about the personality of the service you’re about to create. Siri, Alexa, Cortana are rich names, but they don’t feel nearly as real as_Bob_, Jane or Gurtude . Pick a name that reflects the kind of person you imagine your bot being. Grounding it in reality, will really help construct something that feels humanized.

  2. Background Ditto for your bot’s background. Try and flesh out ‘realistic’ background information like their age, education, experience level, skills, location, accent, and other attributes that might inform their personality

  3. Then spend about 15 minutes focusing on how your bot ‘feels’ and the voice of your bot.

    • Looking - Personality image: First, give your bot an image. This is an actual image of a person that embodies the traits you wish to include in your bot. This makes the personality less abstract. Pick a famous person, or a person with whom you or the team is familiar. You can use a mascot or representative that already embodies the personality, use that instead. Describe the attributes of the ‘mascot’ that communicate the bot’s personality.

    • Feeling - Traits and Values: List five to seven traits that best describe your bot along with any traits you want to avoid. This helps to create a consistent personality while avoiding the traits that would take your bot in the wrong direction.

    • Say - Voice and Tone: List five to seven adjectives that best describe how your bot should speak. If your bot could talk, how would it speak? What would it say? Would it speak with a folksy vernacular or a refined, erudite clip? Describe the specific aspects of your brand’s voice and how it might change in various communication situations. People change their language and tone to fit the situation, and so should your bot’s voice.

    • Act - Examples of Personality: Provide examples of interchanges that might be used in different situations in your bot. This helps understand how your bot persona should and will communicate. Are there moments to surprise or delight? What are they? How does it build in the traits and voice into these moments: ‘I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that… ‘

  4. Finally, review your persona and map out your bot’s personality using the diagram provided. How much of these aspects of personality does your bot incorporate in mosts of it’s interactions. You can use this as a barometer to designing your bot’s conversations.

Adapted from personality in design

Spend 10 minutes reporting out with your peers and checking over then

Personality Script

WOrking in groups and using the persona, begin to develop one of your groups bot’s conversational style. Revisit your workflow and begin to map out how your bot will respond to actions.

The focus here is on alternative outcomes to the conversation. For example:

User: Hi Bot: Hullo User: Help Bot: With what? User: Help Bot: How can I help? User: Help Bot: Sure, tell me what you’d like to do? User: Help Bot: Um. With what?

Adding personality to bot’s is partly about adding moments of randomness, randomness and seemingly intuitive responses that are in fact carefully crafted. Begin to map out the ways that your bot might respond to certain scenarios.

You can do this

  1. On the worksheet provided
  2. In excel to capture alternatives
  3. On a whiteboard with post-its. Recommended
  4. In code

Note the following in your workflow:

  • hears - these are inputs from the user. any piece of text that you’ll receive
  • says - these are things the bot will return back to a user without an expectation of a response.
  • asks - these are things that the bot will expect an input from.

Adapted from: Writing the Script

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