In the session “10 Tips for building better actions” at Google I/O, the presenters explained some tips for improving your Actions on Google app. I provide a brief summary in this post.
3:50 | Make your action as simple as possible
It is important to make your action simple, and especially to get the user to their desired outcome quickly. The presenters show an example of this.
6:30 | Add a persona
A lot of previous articles/material on Google’s website mentions this. If you can create an interesting (or even just consistent persona) for your app, it makes it more likely the user will engage and re-engage with your app.
9:30 | Build robust grammars
It can be quite annoying for users if the bot is unable to pick up on common variations of the messages that the users are likely to say. A robust grammar makes use of plenty of training phrases and takes advantage of the Dialogflow entity synonyms to make sure that these common variations are understood by the app.
12:50 | Think beyond the happy path
The happy path is where the conversation proceeds exactly as the bot creator expects. This happy path happens quite rarely.
At the same time, you cannot endlessly fallback either (a good reason why I am not a fan of slot filling). You want to limit the number of fallbacks in your agent and indicate to the user that they need to quit, and perhaps suggest an alternative approach of getting their task done.
The presenters provide a common sense approach for doing this.
16:10 | Evolve with your user
Here, the idea is to take advantage of already known information about the user. Since Actions are already tied to a user account, and you get some basic information about user automatically, it might be a good idea to avoid prompting or re-prompting the user for information your app already collected in a previous conversation with the same user.
A second idea is to use the previously known information to add some personalization.
18:30 | Enhance Actions with sound and media
This is a very cool tip, especially since the Google Assistant seems capable of using some very rich media and sound effects.
The presenters talk about par and prosody, and how these two properties can be combined to create rich sound effects.
22:30 | Adjust the behavior to the device
The Actions SDK provides some out-of-the-box functionality to help you build apps which can work on multiple modalities (e.g. Google Assistant, Google Home, Smart Watch etc) from a single code base. The presenters show how to implement such functionalities.
24:30 | Test with your users
Recently, the Actions on Google team has added the ability to do alpha releases and beta releases of your Actions app. The presenters discuss what these releases are and how they can help you with testing your app.
26:00 | Use Analytics to make your action better
A basic introduction to the Chatbase service and how it can help you monitor and improve your agent’s interactions.
28:15 | Re-engage your users
The presenters explain how to use daily updates and push notifications to re-engage your app users.
30:30 | Make your action easy to discover
Here, they discuss the Explorer directory and Action Links and how these can help you get your app discovered.
34:30 | Be helpful everywhere your users are
A quick introduction to how you can do localization of your Actions on Google app and how that will benefit the discovery of your app.