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Designing Bots and Conversational Apps for Work

Bot prototyping design sprint

Bear Douglas

Bots and conversational interfaces are an exciting new way to introduce products and services. For startups, enterprises, and brands alike, bots enable a new user experience and can improve engagement and implement workflows. In just two hours, Bear Douglas offers an overview of this new interface model and walks you through designing and prototyping a bot, following the Design Sprint methodology: understanding the domain, defining a use case you want to solve, brainstorming solutions, deciding on the solution you want to implement, prototyping a design, and doing usability testing. You’ll leave with a design for a useful and delightful bot that you can start building right away.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, online course, you’ll understand:

  • Conversational interface basic concepts
  • The uses cases bots cover
  • The principles of a good conversational design
  • The rich controls at your bot’s disposal
  • Steps to improve your bot design

And you’ll be able to:

  • Define your bot’s work use case
  • Map intent and entities
  • Outline a conversational flow
  • Design a conversational prototype
  • Test your conversation interface with actual users

This training course is for you because...

  • You’re a product manager with a background in product design who wants to build a bot spec.
  • You’re a designer with a background in UX design who wants to design your first conversational interface.


  • Access to Slack is needed if you wish to participate in the Slack bot exercises.
  • We will send everyone that registers an invitation to join the class Slack channel 1 week prior to class starting. If you do not receive your invitation please email us.

Recommended preparation:

Designing Bots, chapters 1 and 2 (book)

Design Sprint, chapters 1–3 (book)

Design Sprint (video)

Answer the following questions about your use case:

  • What are the top-five use cases you want to implement?
  • Who is the audience for each use case? (Try to create a use case definition doc.)
  • Is this a consumer or a business use case? (If you answered consumer, this is not in the right course for you.)

Materials needed:

For the prototyping and design portion of class students will use Slack's message builder https://api.slack.com/docs/messages/builder

Sticky notes and colored stickers (red, yellow, and blue dots preferred)

About your instructor

  • Bear Douglas leads Developer Relations at Slack, where she helps people build tools to make their work lives better. Before Slack, she worked on dev rel for mobile (Fabric) and data (GNIP) at Twitter, and at Facebook on their mobile platform and Parse. She's generally happy to help you out with your questions, and at the very least is a pretty good rubber duck.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Course outline:

  • Lecture: Understanding the bot domain and examples of delightful bots (25 minutes)

  • Hands-on: Defining your use case—Distill your user statement, describe how this process is done today, and outline the intent and the entities of the workflow (15 minutes)

  • Break (10 minutes)

  • Hands-on: Diverging—Create 2–8 interfaces for the bot on sticky notes, write the script for your bot, and explore different interactions (15 minutes)

  • Hands-on: Deciding—Share sketches, review them, and decide which flow to implement (15 minutes)

  • Hands-on: Prototyping: Design a small message using Slack's message builder https://api.slack.com/docs/messages/builder (20 minutes)

  • Lecture: Validation—Wizard of Oz user testing, usability testing, and production feedback (15 minutes)

  • Conclusion: What wasn’t covered—Onboarding, human in the loop, and hosting and tools (5 minutes)