Nowadays, chatting via Apps like iMessage, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp is part of our everyday life. Like in real life, chatting has a lot of concious and subconcious levels of communication. For example: How fast is somebody responding, intonation, emojis.. etc). All these meta data affects the way, we recieve messages. In our bachelor thesis we examined, if it’s possible, to tell stories beyond the personal context by using these patterns. We also thought about how the Branding or the (Conversational) User Interface has to be to support stories and make them recognizable among others.
Bachelor project together with Felix Kapolka
«Imagine you are in an WhatsApp groupchat with Faust, Mephisto and Gretchen»
Before we started our project we had to do a lot of research about Instant Messaging, Storytelling and (Conversational) Interface Design.Download
Facebook and WhatsApp are still the channels with the highest reach advantage. But there are a lot of competitors (WeChat, Lime, Telegram,...) on the market and it’s interesting how that will turn out in the future.
Technology and Design
Recently we find ourself in a NO-UI-UI-Hype and Conversational UI Applications and Bots are said to be the new Apps. So the Designers Role in this Chatbot Bubble will be more focused on concept, content and technology.
Because of the growing supply in the messaging field it’s getting harder and harder to find the proper channel for your content. So Cross- and Transmedia Storytelling is getting more and more important in terms of reaching your target group.
«A chatbot for storytelling: time based, interactive and in dialogue with more than one person»
After the research phase we thought about where this is heading and what we, as designers, are capable of programming. After a lot of trial and error we decided to code the stuff on our own with Python and Telegram. We chose Telegram because in our research we discovered that it has a relatively opened up API which is also speclialized on bots.
For the prototype, we decided to go with «Die Changuru Chronien» by Mark Uwe Kling. These are little short stories about a guy living together ith a canguru.
Behaviour: Like User
You first start an conversation with the Storybot. As soon as you have chosen a story, he invites the characters needed for the story.
They both get invited and kicked out of the group by the Storybot.
They are time based and can react to user input or input by the Storybot. By timing them right, it appeares like they are communicating with each other.
To avoid direct communication with the user (which is hard to predict) we decided, that for us, Attendance is Interaction.
Therefore we programmed several KeyboardMarkups in every story.
First we took the original stories and transformed them into the chat window.
With the second storie rewrote the original story FOR the chat medium. And of course that’s working a bit better!
«Our content is our branding»
At one point we realized, that our majour thing, when it comes to branding, is not primarily a fancy logo or corporate colours but definitely our content. We found out that users are more likely attached to a certain style of writing and for example usage of emojis than having a visual CI.
Nevertheless we tried to push the corporate identity part as far as we could. Commited to the messaging medium there were few possibilities but we tried to get the maximum out of it.
We decided to go with a book styled chat bubble.
For both the word mark and the representation in other media we needed a typeface and went with Karmilla. It's an expanded version of Karla, a grotesque sans serif display typeface.
«The right story, told the right way, for every medium, for every situation»
After all the researching and testing we tried to put together some visions wheren storytelling in messating Apps could develop. Beside some UI Visions, most of them are rather content related because as we found out earlier: content is king!
Imagine you waking up, having an notification on your logscreen that something has happened in the story.
Of course you are checking the groupchat immediately and you are getting an update what has happened by night.
After you got up yo enter the living room where you have an amazon echo. And you are getting asked, if you want to continue with the story as an audio play while making breakfast.
While driving to work by train, you find your chat in a more periscope styled way. you can switch between the 3 character cams and you have a map view where they are at the moment.
And the last vision is you coming home and getting a call from one of the characters of the story.