Using rich content in bots

Hi guys,

Over the course of the past three weeks we have been creating best practices pieces for bot making. In the first two editions we discussed message delays and message length (check them out here and here).

This past week we wrote about using rich content (gifs, images, videos, etc.) in messaging flows. We would love to hear what you guys think about what we wrote. Did we miss something? Do you disagree with anything?

Let us know.

I wanted to make a small contribution to the message length article first, and then I may follow up with some more thought on the rich content article. I follow the principles of editing and revising in writing no matter where or what I am writing, in which I make multiple passes through text making edit notes and revising every time. The general rule of thumb is cut your word count 20% at least once (but you should try to cut more one more time or two more times if you are a maniac with language). This applies quite well to best practices of message lengths in bots as well.

When I start a bot, I don’t care how long my messages are. I write what I want to get out because this is essentially my rough draft. After I have word vomited the content I want to cover, I go back in with a machete and start hacking large portions of unimportant or misplaced information out. I don’t worry about the finesse of the sentences or anything else microscopic just the big stuff (this can be called “Global Editing”). Next, I go back in with a kitchen knife and cut out the smaller chunks of info that can be rewritten more succinctly or moved around inside that particular gambit (this can be called “Local Editing”). Finally, I get the scalpel out and surgically remove or reorder words to get the most concise and clear writing I can possibly muster (this can be called “Surface Editing”). Each level of editing happens in rounds, so I will pass through all my gambits at the “Global” level, then I’ll go back through at the “Local” level, etc. By the end I typically have removed 20 to 25% of completely unnecessary wording and restructured pertinent information to remove another 5% to 15% of words. The goal is to get as short as possible while still conveying the appropriate information to your users. This may fluctuate up and down depending on the audience you are speaking to.

If your audience is a bunch of scientists that all study within a specific discipline, you may actually have to use more complex words and longer sentences, otherwise you risk “offending” them by writing too colloquially for their taste (just a random example). I agree though that short and sweet in the beginning is very useful.

Rich texts allows you to highlight the most basic of information for users that are scanning instead of reading. If done correctly, they will pull the most critical information needed to successfully complete actions with a low failure rate… Okay I’m going to read the rich content article now… :slight_smile:

P.S. The fourth and highest level of editing is “Project Editing”. In bots this is essentially how your gambits “flow” or are structured. Big bots need much more Project Editing considerations because it is absolutely crucial to the successful flow of conversation and interactions. See, writers are quite handy in this bot stuff :rofl:


These are some really good advice. Only expected from a writer :smile:
I am going to follow these cutting advice in my next bot.