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Dave Skorepa

Total posts: 5
Last post: September 2, 2020

Chatbot Development: How to Select and Implement the Right Chatbot for Your Website

Chatbot Development: How to Select and Implement the Right Chatbot for Your Website

By Dave Skorepa on  September 2, 2020

For several years, chatbots were typically used to in customer service environments. These days, chatbots fill a variety of pivotal roles within an enterprise.

Chatbots are growing in popularity, and for good reason. According to SmallBizGenius, chatbots can answer 80 percent of standard questions and cut operational costs by up to 30 percent. These days, 1.4 billion people around the world use chatbots to find what they need.

In an age where artificial intelligence is expanding the way businesses can solve customer issues, chatbots provide your company with an opportunity to improve your customer’s online experience. However, it’s important to understand what kind of chat service you need what you need to do to properly implement and support this service.

The Evolution of Chatbots

Simply put, chatbots are computer programs that give your users another way to interact with your website. Chatbots are known by many names, including AI bots, virtual agents, and conversational interfaces. Regardless of what you call them, they all have the same general goal: to improve customer experience and business efficiencies.

Originally, chatbots were used to direct customers to call an in-house expert or to outsource that call. AI technology has allowed chatbots to extend beyond customer service calls and accommodate other user needs. These days, chatbots can range from basic tools to answer standard user questions to advanced conversational AI bots that are programmed with a logic tree to assist multiple types of users. Chatbots can also provide reporting to help you better understand where you have content gaps or other areas to address.

With AI technology, chatbots offer a way to give consumers a way to interact with your site and ask for what they need 24/7. Modern-day chatbots can be as basic or complex as you need them to be – it just comes down to figuring out the right solution for your organization.

What You Need to Consider When Selecting a Chatbot

While chatbots can be incredibly useful, it’s critical to first assess both your customer’s needs and what it’ll take to implement an effective chatbot. To do this, you’ll need to weigh the following factors.

  • Implementation
  • Chatbot Platforms/Cost

Implementation

In terms of adding a chatbot to your site, the process is very simple. Chatbot platforms are almost always a third-party platform that you can quickly and easily implement by adding a piece of code to your site. These platforms can work on just about any website or template regardless of your CMS. As such, you rarely need to worry about whether a chatbot platform is compatible with your site.

What’s much more difficult is identifying whether the idea of a chatbot makes sense for your organization as a whole. To do this, you’ll need to evaluate a few different factors:

  • Why do you need a chatbot?
  • What will it take to set up the chatbot?
  • Do you have the means to support that chatbot?
  • How much will the chatbot cost?

Why do you need a chatbot for your business?

In general, most business can benefit from chatbots in some way. Determining whether you have a legitimate use for a chatbot is simple: can it improve the overall user experience for your website? If the answer is yes, a chatbot can help.

A useful chatbot can make sense whether you need something to answer basic customer service or to provide engineers with quick access to technical questions. If the following benefits sound good to you, a chatbot is worth some consideration.

  • Provide guaranteed, streamlined customer support
  • Improve customer experience and engagement
  • Create a direct path to sales professionals
  • Allow customers to manage simple tasks autonomously
  • Enhance shopping journeys
  • Resolve technical issues
  • Give users direct attention and quick responses

What will it take to set up the chatbot?

While deciding whether a chatbot can improve your website is easy, taking the time and effort necessary to get it ready for users is another matter.

A chatbot gives users an opportunity to begin a conversation so that they can quickly and easily get what they want. However, machines can’t understand human inquiries or statements without some help. While machine learning and AI technology can break down human communication over time, chatbots need some support to provide positive user experiences.

This is where you and the people implementing your chatbot step in to help. Before your chatbot can help customers, you need to develop conversational flows that address different types of users. For example, a user may type that he has a problem with a product. The term “problem” can trigger the chatbot to redirect that user to customer service or tech support.

In order for a chatbot to work, you’ll need to create a logic tree to break down the different types of users, questions, and responses needed to set your chatbot up for success. This process can become quite complex, so it’s important to identify a starting point and identify the right questions from there. If you’re working with a design and development company to implement the chatbot, they can help work you through this process and help you avoid logic loops and other potential issues.

While the process of creating a logic tree is tricky, it’s important to note that you don’t need to address every single scenario right away. Start by addressing clear need and saving rare problems for the future. With AI built into the chatbot, the reporting can share key results. This data will help you know what questions were asked, where users got stuck, and how those users reacted. This will help you utilize machine learning and reporting features to understand what actually helps and what you can do to improve the customer experience.

Do you have the means to support a chatbot?

Another key consideration regarding chatbots is whether you have the internal infrastructure and resources to manage one. While AI can power a significant amount of the chatbot’s responses, you’ll need to have a plan in place for when a human has to step in and help a user.

For example, let’s imagine you have an e-commerce website for a chain of furniture stores. Your two primary use cases involve people looking to buy a piece of furniture or existing customers who have an issue with something they purchased. You trained your AI to figure out which primary use case is applicable to each user, but you still need personnel who can handle those inquiries at some point.

In this case, you’d likely need to identify two separate people to deal with these different types of users. You’ll also need to take the time to create scripts and train these individuals on how to work with the chatbot users.

Costs

Chatbot costs are heavily dependent on a couple factors: volume and your chatbot platform of choice. To start, many chatbots offer different monthly or annual packages based on the number of agents you need. If you need several agents to use the chat service, that will add up to a significant expense. However, chatbots can help reduce inbound queries by up to 40 percent, so these costs can be easily justified based on your organizational needs.

Pricing packages vary from each chatbot platform as well. For example, LiveChat offers monthly packages that range from $19 to $59 per agent. Other platforms offer services starting at $100-plus per agent. You can also come across platforms that may charge based on the volume of messages you receive. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each platform to estimate your potential investment against how much they’ll benefit your organization.

Identify the Right Chatbot Solution for Your Business

For a simple snippet of code, chatbots require a lot of planning and preparation to set your business up for success. Fortunately, you don’t need to go through the process alone. Aztek can guide you through the implementation process and identify the best chatbot solution for your organizational needs. Contact us today to talk to our team about your chatbot options.

The Benefits of Responsive Web Design

The Benefits of Responsive Web Design

By Dave Skorepa on  July 1, 2020

From online shopping to general browsing, the online user experience has undergone dramatic changes since Bing Crosby first sang about busy sidewalks and people dressed in holiday style. The days of bulky desktops and dial up are long over – the mobile revolution is underway and thriving.

When your business depends on your online presence, this trend is no joke. These days, more than half of website traffic in the world comes from mobile devices – in fact, the percentage of mobile traffic increased from 31.2 to 52.6 percent from the start of 2015 to the end of 2019 alone.

Fortunately, there’s a way to improve your website for this growing group of users: responsive web design. As mobile usage continues to gain popularity, embracing responsive web design will not only make your more appealing to customers, it’s good for business as well.

What is Responsive Web Design?

In a time when people use devices of all sizes to access your site, responsive web design allows you to tailor your site to your users’ devices. A responsive site is one site, not a separate mobile and desktop version, meaning you make changes one time and in one place and your site is automatically updated for any device.

It’s also important to note than responsive design is not the same as mobile-friendly design. While responsive design is indeed friendly to mobile users, it takes a different approach t doing so. A mobile-friendly site design is where the desktop and mobile versions are the exact same – they just happen to focus on working on mobile devices. A responsive web design allows your sit to proactively adjust or "respond" to the device that is accessing it. This practice allows your site to shift so that users can access the same information as everyone else, but in a way that’s more user friendly to them.

In short, responsive web design allows you to translate the look and layout of your site to your user’s device. There are a variety of design elements included in responsive web design. Here’s an example of responsive web design in action and how those elements impact the mobile version of your site.

The desktop version of the Bil-Jac.com site.

An example of Bil-Jac.com, a site with responsive web design.

The first example showcases the site on desktop, whereas the second is how it responds to a mobile device. As you can see, the mobile design changes in order to accommodate the shape and size of the mobile device. For instance, the text and image layout formats better for a longer screen while the main navigation is combined into a tappable menu icon to prevent the need for horizontal scrolling.

How Does Responsive Web Design Help My Business?

Simply put, more and more people use mobile devices for their online activity every day. Consumers will continue to dictate how they interact with your company – and as we mentioned earlier, more than half of traffic comes from a mobile device. Responsive web design allows you to provide the best user experience that contributes to the achievement of your business goals. Here are some direct benefits that you can enjoy with responsive design.

Responsive Web Design Improved Site Usability

One of the main objectives of responsive design is to give your users a better experience for your visitors. However, this goal isn’t all about being doing your users a solid – a better user experience is good for business as well. While patience is a virtue, the average visitor does not share that quality. Here are a few eye-opening statistics from Smallbizgenius to help drive that point home:

  • 88 percent of online shoppers say they wouldn’t return to a website after having a bad user experience.
  • 44 percent of shoppers will tell their friends about a bad online experience.
  • If a website isn’t mobile-friendly, 50 percent of users will use it less even if they like the business.
  • 52 percent of users said they’re less likely to engage with a company that doesn’t use responsive mobile design.
  • 67 percent of mobile users say they’d rather reward a mobile-friendly site by buying a product or service there than from one of its competitors.

Simply put, the better your user’s mobile experience is, the more likely it is that they'll stick around on your site and reward you with their business.

Responsive Web Design Leads to Better Bounce Rates

Speaking of people sticking around, a better mobile experience is much more likely to keep users on your site. There are several reasons why users bounce from a site that isn’t optimized for mobile devices, such as:

  • Horizontal scrolling
  • Poor mobile navigation bars
  • Massive images that take up the entire screen

Through responsive design, you can clean up many of these issues to provide a better user experience from the moment a visitor arrives. This will help improve the percentage of visitors who depart your site after a single page. In turn, more users will be more inclined to click through and read multiple pages to see your goods and services.

Responsive Web Design is Critical for SEO

The mobile friendliness of your site does more than make your site look better on smaller devices – it has a direct impact on your how well your site ranks in Google searches. Google officially announced back in 2015 that it would expand its “use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” The company then doubled down in 2018 by switching to mobile first indexing, which means that they now use the mobile version of your pages for indexing and ranking purposes.

What does Google’s increased focus on mobile friendliness mean for sites that aren’t responsive? In short, bad news. Studies showed that non-responsive sites took a direct hit to their traffic following the 2015 update, with some sites experiencing decreases of 50 percent or more for not being mobile friendly. As such, a responsive site can help appease Google and prevent avoidable traffic losses.

Responsive Web Design Allows for Faster Pages

Did you know that responsive web design not only makes your site mobile friendly, it also allows them to load more quickly on those mobile devices? “Says who,” you ask? As it turns out, Google does. According to the great search overlords themselves, responsive design “requires no redirection for users to have a device-optimized view, which reduces load time.” This reduction in load time is beneficial for two big reasons:

  • The faster a page loads, the more likely a user will interact with it.
  • Page speed is yet another ranking factor for Google.

Who needs to pick between user experience and search rankings when you can have both?

Prepare Your Site for Mobile Users

No matter your business, mobile users are a crucial part of your online success. Customers these days have smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices and will use them to check out your site online whether you run an ecommerce operation or an industrial business-to-business company. Consumers demand instant access to the products and services which interest them, and the businesses that provide a more personalized, user-focused experience will be rewarded with engagement and investment of consumer dollars.

Are you ready to take your site to the next level for mobile users? Contact Aztek Web today about responsive web design for your business.

UX Improvements: Eight Practices to Avoid (and What to Do Instead)

UX Improvements: Eight Practices to Avoid (and What to Do Instead)

By Dave Skorepa on  June 17, 2020

User Experience (UX) is hard. Many UX designers work for years and years to hone their craft. If you don't have that kind of time and are looking for a few quick and easy user experience "wins" for your website, you've come to the right blog post. Here are some simple UX “no-nos” you should avoid to improve your website.

Don't Use "Read More" Links

Why? Because they don't tell anyone anything useful about the page you are linking to, especially screen readers and search engines. The text of a link should describe the thing it links to.

Instead: Use unique and descriptive text. For example, just use the title of the blog post in your blog listing. See? Easy!

A blog listing using the titles of posts as links instead of "Read More."

Not a 'read more' link in sight.

Unnecessary Animation

If I had a nickel for every time a designer was asked to add some "wow factor to a webpage with some animation,” I could buy the entire internet. Sometimes, animation just isn't necessary and you (the presumptive owner of the website) overthink how much your user cares about a nifty fade-in effect on a picture.

Don't get me wrong, animation can be a nice touch, but let's not put the cart before the horse. Animation should enhance the content or experience in a meaningful way or else it’s just distracting and annoying. Think of it like salt in a good meal – Too much and you ruin the whole thing.

Instead: Only use animation where it makes the content better.

The Order of Your Navigation Items Doesn't Match User Intent

In addition to keeping the total number of items in the navigation low, you also need to put them in the order your user cares about them. 99 percent of the time that means things like "Products" and "Services" at the beginning and "About us" or "Our tedious and boring company history" at the end (or not at all). If you aren't sure what your users care about, just ask them (or check your analytics and see the proof that only your CEO has ever looked at that interactive company timeline page).

Instead: Put the (actual) important stuff first, second, and third.

Pop-ups, Pop-overs, and Pop-unders (Just Stop)

I still don't understand how analytics and natural selection haven't weeded out these awful viruses of the internet. Whenever people ask us to use these invasive web species, the first thing we ask is "What do you do when you encounter these on other websites?" After about five seconds of silence, the answer is usually "You're right, never mind."

Instead: Just don't use these tactics. Ever.

Text in Images

I know you probably aren't a graphics professional so I'm going to cut you some slack. What if I told you text that you see in an image isn't real text? Yep. If you can't run your cursor over it and select individual words and letters, it is no more a piece of text than a picture of your dear Aunt Debbie. That means search engines and screen readers can't understand it (yet) and the image text can't resize and reflow properly for small, mobile screens. In turn, your users probably can’t read it easily either.

Instead: Don't just provide the text part inside of the image; provide a "real text" version of the content alongside the image.

An example of text in an image as bad UX.

I love memes as much as the next guy, but this text is not machine readable. The text reads: "graphic design is my passion" in case you were wondering.

Low-contrast Text

Designers, I'm looking at you. This is almost always your fault. For some reason, designers LOVE very light, low-contrast text as a design element. The problem is, these designers use it in places where reading comprehension is critical to the user – and it's not just color that factors in to contrast ratios. Size matters too.

Example of low-contrast text and bad UX from Nielsen Norman Group.

Image source – Nielsen Norman Group

Instead: Use a font size and color pairing that meets ADA contrast requirements. If you can't do this because the aesthetic is just too important to you, provide an accessibility tool like accessiBe so the user can override your styles.

Pre-checked Boxes in Forms

There's a word for this. It's called a dark pattern. Dark because if you pre-check a box in a form, you are almost always trying to trick the user into agreeing to something (like joining your mailing list). C'mon, if you have to trick users into signing up, they are not going to be real happy about it (I.E. a BAD USER EXPERIENCE).

Instead: Always make the user deliberately opt in or check the box on purpose. Let them decide fair and square.

"PDF-only" Content

My coworkers are sick of my endless "War on PDFs," but I will not stop fighting until every last one of them are defeated (the PDFs, not my coworkers). PDFs are NEVER a better user experience than regular old HTML content. They are terrible on mobile devices because they don't obey all that careful responsive web design we just built for you, and they are almost always a huge file that takes a long time to download.

A "no" sign over PDF-only content.

Instead: just take the time to turn them (the PDFs) back into web page content. It's worth it in SEO value alone. You can still offer a PDF if you have to, but always give users an HTML version first.

Need help implementing some of these ideas on your own website? Give us a call today to talk about your web design needs.

Website Spring Cleaning: Easy Things You Can Do Right Now to Spruce Up Your Website

Website Spring Cleaning: Easy Things You Can Do Right Now to Spruce Up Your Website

By Dave Skorepa on  April 21, 2020

How long has it been since you've done anything with your website? A couple months, a few years? That's okay, we've all been hibernating these past few weeks. With summer on its way, maybe it's time to check on the site and get it back up to snuff.

Here are some small, easy-to-tackle tasks that you can do in your spare time.

Add Schema (structured content) markup

Schema markup gives a little extra context to search engines about specific types of content – and you probably have some content on your website that qualifies. Addresses, events, products, how-to articles, and even job postings have a structured schema to better help this content be found and understood by search engines. Fortunately, it's not difficult to implement.

Schema markup

Review and refresh your Open Graph tags for social media sharing

Just like Schema (above), Open Graph (OG) tags help social media websites better understand your content when it's shared on their platforms. You can help them out by providing specific titles, descriptions, even images to make your content stand out when it gets shared. If you haven't reviewed your tags in a while (or ever), it only takes a few minutes per page.

.Open Graph Tags

Use a simple survey to ask your customers how else the website could make it easier to do business with you

Who knows what your site needs to include better than your customers? You'll be surprised how many of them will happily answer a quick digital survey about how your website could better serve their needs. When the results come back, you'll have a fresh list of content and feature ideas you know your users want.

Check-in on your competitors' websites

I know you don't like them, but once in a while, you have to take the pulse of your industry. Sometimes your competitors are doing something right. Maybe it's even worth copying – or if their website is bad, sometimes it's just reassuring to know yours is better. Just go take a look.

Speed up your website by compressing your images

Faster sites perform better. You users don't want to sit around waiting for giant images and videos to load before they interact with your content, and search engines will ding you for having a site that takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R to load. Over time, you have probably gotten a little lax about compressing all your images before uploading them to your CMS. Take a minute and re-upload a compressed version of the same image. If you aren't sure how to compress images, I recommend Kranken.io. It's free, and you don't need to know any fancy image editing software.

Image compression for a fast loading website

Check for broken links

Broken links are bad for users and bad for SEO. Everything about them is bad, but they do tend to accumulate over time. The first step is to find out where they are. First, you need to make sure you have Google Search Console set up. Then you can take advantage of services like Ahrefs' free broken link checker to identify dead links. Once identified, you just need to go into your CMS and either update or remove them.

Broken website links are bad for user experience and SEO

Review your internal page linking

You also want to pay attention to pages within your own site that link to other pages within your own site. Find some keyword-rich phrases (where the keywords describe the content on a different page of the site) and make those words link to that matching page. Like so: The best website design company in Cleveland, Ohio. Super-easy SEO booster. Just don't go too crazy with this. Google can tell if you're being spammy and deceptive about it.

Make it accessible to disabled users

Just like broken links, it's possible for your site to accumulate accessibility errors over time as content and changes are made. Check to see where they are with an accessibility checker, so you can fix them right away. Pay special attention to PDFs – they can still count against you, even though they aren't a web page! Looking for an easy fix for your accessibility woes? Try AccessiBe.

website accessibility - Assistive technology for disabled users

Refresh old blog posts and re-promote them

You've already got them, might as well make sure they are still working for you. Audit your blog by going back through your older posts to see if there are any that you can make more relevant with a little editing.

Oftentimes, users will assume an old blog post is less relevant just because of the date. A few updates for the current year can restore new search life to an older post. While you are in there, go ahead and delete old, low-value posts (not everything can or should be revived).

Break up "walls of text"

If you have a long page of content that is just paragraph after paragraph after paragraph, there is a good chance your readers are exhausted just looking at it. There's an even better chance they aren't even reading. Don't despair. There is an easy solution – break it up. Turn some of the sentences into subheads with big, bold lettering. Turn others into lists. Is there an image or video that could support some of the ideas? Add them.

For example:

Break up walls of text in your web pages to the layouts are easier to read

Add strong calls to action throughout page content, but especially at the end of pages

If you have a page – any page – that ends without some kind of next step, you are missing out on a key opportunity to keep your audience engaged. You don’t need to beg for a sale or a lead. A call to action can drive users to simply browse a related product or service or read a related blog post. Just don't leave your users hanging without a next step.

For instance, now that this post is over, you should go check out our portfolio.

Aztek will remain open through Coronavirus

Aztek will remain open through Coronavirus

By Dave Skorepa on  March 13, 2020

Amidst all the chaos of the rapidly developing Coronavirus outbreak, we wanted to take a moment to reassure you that your projects and services from Aztek will not be interrupted.

We are fortunate to have a remote-friendly workforce and our team will continue supporting you and your business.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us.

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