Conversational components Informational statements

Informational statements

Understanding this type of conversational component will help you give users information in a clear and concise way.

Overviews Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

Overviews (also called introductions, headers, preambles, or advance organizers) set expectations about how information will be structured. They set up mental “compartments” in which the user can receive the incoming information, thereby reducing cognitive load.

Introduce a list of information by giving a short overview

Persona: Sekai (fake shoe store) User Input: When will my new shoes arrive? Spoken prompt: I found 2 orders that you placed in the last 2 weeks. The first is scheduled for delivery tomorrow, and the second should be shipped on Thursday. Do you need anything else? Display prompt: I found 2 orders from the last 2 weeks. Visual: Picture of a card that reads: Your Orders: Patchwork sneakers, shipped, arrives May 2. View details. Chips: Picture of 2 visual chips that read, “Orders from last month,” and “No, that’s all.”

Do.

Set user expectations about the information they’re getting. Here, the search window was 2 weeks, and 2 orders were found.

Persona: Sekai (fake shoe store) User Input: When will my new shoes arrive? Spoken prompt: The first is scheduled for delivery tomorrow. The second should be shipped on Thursday Anything else? Display prompt: Here’s what I found. Visual: Picture of a card that reads: “Your Orders: Patchwork sneakers, shipped, arrives May 2. View details.” Chips: Pictures of 2 visual chips that read, “Orders from last month,” and “No, that’s all.”

Don’t.

Don’t surprise the user with multiple results off the bat. Don’t use a vague introduction (“Here’s what I found”) when a specific one would provide more value to the user (e.g., the length of the list, search criteria).

General information Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

Users will have lots of questions for your persona, so use informational statements to provide clear and concise answers. Focus on the essential, or core, information that’s most relevant to the user’s query. More peripheral details should be presented in the visuals instead or omitted entirely. It’s okay to include additional information that the user didn’t specifically ask for as long as it’s highly relevant to their query.

Spoken prompts should lead with an implicit confirmation of the information that was said or implied, followed by the new information. This is because spoken English places the most important information (e.g., the answer) at the end of the sentence; this is known as the End-Focus Principle.

Most of the time, the display prompt is used to point to more detailed information in the accompanying visuals. When there are no accompanying visuals, it’s acceptable to use the same verbiage for the spoken and display prompts. However, you should condense the information in the display prompt to make it easier to scan.

Chips should include ways the user can continue the conversation with your persona. Try to offer actions the user could take with this information or related information they might be interested in.

For some answers, a simple informational statement is sufficient

Persona: Google I/O ‘18 User Input: When’s I/O? Spoken prompt: This year’s developer festival will be held May 8th through the 10th. Now, you can ask about the keynotes or sessions, or anything else you want to know about I/O.</p><p>Display prompt: May 8-10 is when the developer festival is happening. Now, you can ask anything else you want to know about I/O. Chips: Picture of 3 visual chips that read, “Keynotes,” “Browse sessions,” and “Is there swag?”

Do.

Use implicit confirmations (“...this year’s developer festival …”) to carry the thread of the conversation forward by maintaining context. Note that the spoken prompts use end-focus, while the display prompts front-load key info for scannability.

Persona: Google I/O ‘18 User Input: When’s I/O? Spoken prompt: May 8th through the 10th. Now, you can ask about the keynotes or sessions, or anything else you want to know about I/O. Display prompt: May 8-10. Now, you can ask anything else you want to know about I/O. Chips: Picture of 3 visual chips that read, “Keynotes,” “Browse sessions,” and “Is there swag?”

Don’t.

Don’t provide the answer without the context.

Most informational statements will have accompanying visuals

Persona: Google I/O ‘18 User Input: When’s my next session? Spoken prompt: Your next session is at 11:30 AM. Do you need anything else? Display prompt: It’s at 11:30 AM. Anything else? Visual: Picture of a card that includes the date, time, and location of the event, with a brief description of the event. Chips: Picture of 2 visual chips that read, “Get Direactions,” and, “Next event.”

Do.

Use the spoken and display prompts to give the specific answer to the user’s directed question (11:30 AM in this example). Use the visuals for related details.

Persona: Google I/O ‘18 User Input: When’s my next session? Spoken prompt: Your next session is at 11:30 AM. It’s called “Design Actions for the Google Assistant: beyond smart speakers, to phones and smart displays” and it’s happening at Stage 2. Display prompt: It’s starting at 11:30 AM at Stage 2. It’s called “Design Actions for the Google Assistant: beyond smart speakers, to phones and smart displays.” Visual: Picture of a card that includes the date, time, and location of the event, with a brief description of the event. Chips: Picture of 2 visual chips that read, “Get Direactions,” and, “Next event.”

Don’t.

Avoid redundancy between the spoken prompt, display prompt, and visuals.

Even when the visuals provide the best answer, make sure the prompts still carry the core of the message

Persona: Miso flowers (fake flower shop) User input: How do I care for my bouquet? Spoken Prompt: Keep your bouquet fresh longer by changing the water when it gets cloudy, following these steps. Any other questions? Display prompt: Change the water when it gets cloudy following these steps. Any other questions? Visual: Picture of a chip that reads “Caring for your bouquet” with very detailed  step-by-step instructions

Do.

Use the prompts to give an overview. Use the visuals to provide additional detail.

Persona: Miso flowers (fake flower shop) User input: How do I care for my bouquet? Spoken Prompt: Follow these steps. Any other questions? Display prompt: Follow these steps. Any other questions? Visual: Picture of a chip that reads “Caring for your bouquet” with very detailed  step-by-step instructions. Chips: Picture of 2 visual chips that read “Do the flowers last long?” and “Pet-safe flowers.”

Don’t.

Don’t force the reader to scan and read. Your persona should reduce the work the user needs to do, which includes the effort of scanning through detailed information.

Your persona can offer more information than was requested if it’s highly relevant

Persona: Geek num (fake game) User input: What are all the prime numbers? Spoken prompt: There’s an infinite number of prime numbers. In fact, there is no pattern for which numbers will be prime or how far apart they’ll be from one another. Which prime number do you want to learn more about? Display Prompt: There’s an infinite number of prime numbers and no pattern for which numbers will be prime. Which prime number do you want to learn more about? Visual: Picture of a card with various types of Prime numbers that users can choose to learn more about. Chips: Picture of 2 visual chips that read “Natural numbers” and “Irrational numbers.”

Do.

Some facts about prime numbers in general are relevant to the user here, above and beyond a list of prime numbers.

Persona: Geek num (fake game) User input: What are all the prime numbers? Spoken prompt: Here you go. Which prime number do you want to learn more about? Display Prompt: Here you go. Which prime number do you want to learn more about? Visual: Picture of a card with various types of Prime numbers that users can choose to learn more about. Chips: Picture of 2 visual chips that read “Natural numbers” and “Irrational numbers.”

Don’t.

Here, the persona misses an opportunity to share relevant facts.

For less-relevant information, use the visuals to provide additional detail

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller) User input: When does the box office open? Spoken prompt: The box office is open today from 10 AM to 8 PM. Here are the hours for the rest of the week. Do you need anything else? Display prompt: Here are their hours. Do you need anything else? Visual: Picture of a card that reads “Box office/hours of operation.” and displays the hours of operation for every day of the week, Monday through Sunday. Chips: Picture of 3 visual chips that read “Get directions,” “Address,” and “Phone number.”

Do.

Keep informational statements concise by including only the most relevant information (e.g., today’s hours). Use the visuals to provide additional detail.

Persona: Ibento (fake ticket-seller) User input: When does the box office open? Spoken prompt: The box office is open today from 10 AM to 8 PM. Tomorrow, they’ll be open from 12 to 8PM. On Sunday, they’ll be open from 12 to 6 PM. They’re closed on Monday. On Tuesday through Thursday, they’re open from 10 AM to 8PM. Do you need anything else? Display prompt: Here are their hours. Do you need anything else? Visual: Picture of a card that reads “Box office/hours of operation. Picture of a card that reads “Box office/hours of operation.” and displays the hours of operation for every day of the week, Monday through Sunday. Chips: Picture of 3 visual chips that read “Get directions,” “Address,” and “Phone number.”

Don’t.

Don’t overwhelm the user by putting lots of information in the spoken and display prompts. Instead, leverage the visuals.

Menus Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

Your persona can present the user with a menu or list of options.

Menus can be used to present options before asking a question.

In this example, a narrow-focus question is used for disambiguation.

Persona: Miso flowers (fake flower shop) User input: Send flowers to Priya. Spoken Prompt: Which Priya? User input: Um, what? Spoken prompt: You’ve got two Priyas in your address book. Priya Patel and Priya Bakshi. Which did you mean?
Persona: Miso flowers (fake flower shop) User input: Send flowers to Priya. Spoken Prompt: Which Priya? User input: Um, what? Spoken prompt: Which Priya do you want to send flowers to? There are 2 in your address book: Priya Patel and Priya Bakshi.

Menus are often incorporated into narrow-focus questions.

Persona: Google I/O ‘18 User input: Find things to do. Spoken prompt: Sure. Do you want to learn from the experts, try some demos, or kick back and relax?
Persona: Google I/O ‘18 User input: Find things to do. Spoken prompt: Sure. You can learn from the experts, try some demos, or kick back and relax. Which sounds best to you right now?