Is it practical and useful to use flowcharts (I recommend XMind) while designing your chatbot? I have collected a few personal case studies in this article.
1 Using a flowchart during a coaching call to help client explain the bot design
I offer coaching, and during one of my coaching calls I had a client from Europe trying to design a chatbot in a non-English language. While I cannot go into too much detail, I can mention that they had a fairly complex flow and my client was struggling to put the design of the bot into words.
Since I realized that the process of explaining the design was actually taking a long time, I offered to draw out the flowchart on my machine (I was sharing the screen) and that we would walk through some sample conversations and use it to design the chatbot.
Since the conventions I use are quite close to how you would actually write out the conversation, this immediately made the whole design process go much faster.
Later, the client also commented that using the flowchart process also helped him translate the bot into his own language.
2 Designing Simplex
You might have heard of Google Duplex.
I tried to replicate its appointment scheduling behavior in a simple cloned bot I called the Simplex. 🙂
Initially, I didn't draw out a flowchart and decided to just jump in to Dialogflow and start building it. Since the flow is a little complex, I was having some difficulty designing the bot. So I went back to the "Drawing board" and started designing the flow in XMind.
I immediately noticed some subtle things I had missed. The nice thing is, if you take the time to specify the contexts into your flowchart, you can in some cases simply copy/paste the entire thing into Dialogflow and have a working chatbot.
3 Working chatbot from XMind flowchart
In what was possibly the best possible case study of my view that XMind is the best tool for designing chatbot flowcharts, I recently completed a project where I helped a client from Europe design a bot for the Google Assistant.
Now what made this particularly interesting is that this client didn't feel very comfortable describing the bot during a Skype call as he was not sure about his ability to speak conversational English.
So he simply designed the entire flow in XMind, sent the file over to me, and I used it as a starting point to design the bot. After a few more back and forths over email, we had a bot which was designed to his specifications. (And to be clear, it wasn't a very complex chatbot).
You can really speed up your Dialogflow chatbot development by designing your chatbot flow in a mind mapping tool like XMind.
If you need some recommendations to speed up this process, you can also take a look at my flowchart design course.