Visuals in Chatbot Messaging

April 27, 2020

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AI technology advances extremely fast, and chatbots become more and more human-like. They can provide immediate responses and adjust to the situation, making user experience better and better.

At the same time, the appearance of chatbots becomes more sophisticated, and using images in chatbot messaging more common. Visual elements create rhythm, making the conversation more fluid, relaxed, and natural. However, they should be selected wisely not to compromise the relationship with your customers.

Text and images represent the brand

A bot can talk as the company itself or as a virtual employee of the company. Regardless of what option you choose, it is going to be perceived as the voice of the brand. Yet, creating a virtual employee might be more enjoyable. You might have more freedom in making them funny, friendly, or tender.

It does not apply to the text exclusively but to the visual part of messaging as well. It means the selection of pictures, animations, icons, GIFS, and emojis is essential for your brand.

The customized look of a chatbot

The customized appearance helps your bot to align with the company’s brand. Different bots can be equipped with the customization function. To improve user experience, you should adjust the visual aspect of chatbot so that your users get a similar feeling to what they feel when they visit one of your stores, search your website, or when they see your commercials.

Yet, many channels are not well-equipped. Facebook Messenger does not have too many options. You may not be able to customize colors and fonts, but you can use other visual elements to show your brand consistency.

What images should you use for your bot?

Usually, chatbots do not display full screen on a desktop; thus, pictures are shown small. Try to select clear pictures with not too many details, in which the point of attention is clear. The good news is that you can do a preview of the picture in the chat before cropping or editing it. It allows you to make sure that the size of an image is suitable and that there is no visual conflict with the colors of the buttons or other visual elements.

Further, natural pictures work better than artificial ones because they generate trust easily. Try to avoid compositions and poses that look fake. Do you remember those 80’s photo banks where everything looked artificial? You should avoid extreme lightning, extra-smiling faces, and staged situations.

woman smiling, long dark hair, red bottle

However, various brands’ guidelines have a defined photo style, including less natural images. In this case, it is perfectly fine for the sake of consistency rules. You can access high-quality authentic-looking photos from photo stock platforms such as JumpStory.

Keep in mind that pictures must follow the brand’s color palette too. Sometimes, it is a good idea to ask designers to change some colors strategically. To illustrate, if your primary brand color is pink and your competitor’s color is blue, do not show a happy kid wearing a blue shirt.

Most of the media files can be used in chatbots. Yet, some channels have some limitations. You can test files before editing them, which will help you check whether they can be accepted.

People in the images should be like your customer group

Another essential aspect is displaying photos of real people. Your users should be able to identify themselves with people they see in the chat images. In other words, users should feel empathy; they should imagine themselves doing and feeling like the person in the picture.

As a starting point, you can conduct a study of your users. Are those predominantly young or older people, men or women, or rather a diverse group? Making smart choices will allow you to get the right attention.

Overall, think about the message you want to send with images. Every element you use must have a reason. Each picture and icon should carry a message. Try to select visuals with a clear and straightforward message.

Is using funny images a good idea?

You can give a personality to your chatbot. You can make your chatbot funny. However, remember different people have different senses of humor, and it is hard to manage irony online. Some people might use it as an opportunity to discredit your brand, while others might misinterpret your message. It might have a detrimental effect on communication with your users.

Images and the mood of a conversation

Images should be carefully selected accordingly to the mood of the conversation. As mentioned before, rhythm is important, but there are specific moments of a conversation when images should not appear in the chat. For example, when a user is waiting to receive an answer or ends the process, sending an animation might not be a good idea. A user might lose patience.

Moreover, when the bot cannot solve a problem, sending an image of a smiling person might be a huge mistake. You can instead display a sad face showing the bot was sorry. Never make fun of the users in this kind of situation.

Avatars in chatbots

To differentiate your chatbot from many other similar robots on the market, you might consider using an avatar. This visual element can represent your brand, create more personal relations with your users, and improve customer satisfaction. Moreover, it can make some users feel more comfortable talking to a robot.

In other words, an avatar can give your chatbot a human face. Nevertheless, you must inform the user that he or she is talking to a robot. Avatars differ, and the decision is up to you whether you prefer an avatar of a man or woman, an animal, or simply of a robot.

Regardless of your choice, always follow the rules mentioned above, including visual consistency with the brand. Visuals are an important element of chatbot messaging, which make the interaction more human-like. Regardless of what images, photos, GIFS, emojis, or avatars you use, be sure you
have the right to use them.

About the author

This article was written by Luis Nagel, who has been working as a Product Designer at BotXO for the last two years. With a background in graphic design, marketing and journalism, he accepted the challenge of working on AI chatbots. In his role, Luis focuses on creating roadmaps balancing UX/UI, business goals and opportunities, and the technical capacity available. Passionate about his work, he believes that AI chatbots can improve business operations and make people’s lives easier.

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