Conversation Designer: The Role and How To Become One

Conversation Designer: The Role and How To Become One

Artificial intelligence chatbots and voice assistants like ChatGPT are revolutionizing processes across industries, leading to benefits like faster information retrieval and delivery of personalized user experiences.

Since these chatbots are available 24/7, they provide continuous customer support and assistance—allowing businesses to operate more efficiently. Conversational AI chatbots can answer questions, direct users to specific resources, and provide real-time updates, among other functions. But they don’t magically perform these roles by themselves.

Behind the scenes, you’ll find conversation designers—working with other stakeholders—to design dialogues and conversational workflows. Conversational designers enable chatbots and virtual assistants to better mimic real-life conversations and engage users in a more natural way. Conversation designers go further to craft content and contextually appropriate messages that align with a specific brand tone and voice for seamless and aligned interactions.

Interested in becoming a conversation designer? In this article, we discuss the conversation design role, outlining its key responsibilities. We also highlight steps to follow to become a conversation designer.

Table of contents:

The role of a conversation designer

Conversation design involves shaping interactions between users and conversational tools like chatbots and virtual assistants, making the interactions engaging, helpful, and natural.

Effective conversation design enables users to more quickly achieve their goals. Conversation design also brings consistency in user interactions by helping chatbots maintain the brand’s tone and provide contextually correct responses. All these capabilities can facilitate excellent conversational experiences.

But conversation design is about more than mastering technical aspects. You also need a good understanding of areas like copywriting, linguistics, and UX design to build effective conversation interfaces.

A foundation in linguistics will help you understand the meaning and morphology of different words and phrases, as well as the work they do in phrases and sentences. This allows you to craft coherent and clear responses that chatbots can output, improving conversational flow.

Copywriting skills help you write concise messages that align with your brand voice and tone, and UX design makes sure information is organized logically for the user, making their experience smoother and more enjoyable.

We cover more specific roles that conversation designers play below:

  • User research. Conversation designers perform research to understand the target user’s behaviors and preferences. This helps them identify user goals, motivations, and pain points. Using this information, conversation designers can determine possible questions users may ask and how they’d like the answers formatted.
  • Conversation flow design. Once conversation designers have performed user research, they shift to creating conversation flow and dialogues to facilitate intuitive interactions.
  • Content creation. Conversation designers use their linguistic and copywriting abilities to craft engaging responses to different user inputs. Traditional chatbots can easily reference the content in their responses, while AI-powered agents use the content to interpret how to respond to similar user inputs.
  • Usability testing. Conversation designers perform rigorous testing to ensure chatbots and virtual assistants perform as required—but their testing role is confined to user interaction and conversational aspects. This process also involves collecting user feedback and using it to improve conversational flows.

Required skills and knowledge

A conversation designer role requires a blend of technical and soft skills. We’ll review the competencies and knowledge you need to excel as a conversation designer in more detail next.

Understanding of linguistics and natural language processing

Linguistics is mainly concerned with the study of language, including grammar, structure, semantics, and syntax. Natural language processing enables artificial intelligence systems to process and interpret human language and generate meaningful and coherent responses.

By combining NLP and linguistics, conversation designers can create systems capable of supporting human-like interactions. Mastery of NLP and linguistics also allows conversation designers to continuously improve conversation interfaces to adapt to different communication styles.

Strong copywriting skills

Conversation designers need to have excellent copywriting skills to create clear and conversational content. This allows computer systems to provide conversational experiences. By being good writers, conversation designers can deliver concise messages that are easily understandable by the target audience.

Such content also aligns with the selected brand voice and tone, bringing consistency in communication. What’s more, conversation designers can use their copywriting skills to generate personalized responses—enhancing conversation flows.

Familiarity with UX design principles

User experience principles guide the creation of appealing and user-friendly applications. As a result, conversation designers should demonstrate a mastery of UX design principles, specifically those applied to conversational interfaces. Since these professionals are responsible for the entire user journey, they should be able to apply UX principles to enhance usability, accessibility, and design consistency.

Familiarity with different conversational AI platforms

Conversation designers typically work with different clients and companies. A good understanding of conversational platforms like Google Assistant, Alexa by Amazon, and Siri by Apple can help them perform their specific roles well, depending on project requirements.

Knowledge of suitable tools

Conversation designers regularly use tools like Voiceflow, ChatGPT, and interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Such tools help them to design appealing voice and chat interfaces.

The path to becoming a conversation designer

While there’s no specific educational background for conversation design roles, degrees or courses in linguistics, psychology, design, human-computer interaction (HCI), or other related fields are typically preferred. Majoring in computer science also equips you with the necessary technical skills to thrive in a conversation design role.

Conversation designers also need excellent copywriting and product design skills. Familiarity with natural language processing fundamentals allows these professionals to create engaging conversational flows. You can gain these skills by enrolling in different online courses and tutorials. Platforms like Udemy, Udacity, and Codecademy are great places to gain the skills needed to kickstart your conversation design career.

For example, the Introduction to Voice Interface Design course on Udemy offers 3-hours of lectures that take learners through topics like:

  • How to design for voice interfaces
  • How to design conversations for chatbots
  • Where to start when creating a chatbot or a voice bot
  • How to make a good user experience for voice and chatbot

As you gain conversation design skills, use platforms like LinkedIn to connect and learn from other professionals and mentors. This can help you build long-lasting relationships and discover career growth opportunities. You can also use LinkedIn to build your online profile, showcasing your conversation design skills, achievements, and experiences to potential clients.

Apart from knowing the fundamentals, you need hands-on skills to succeed in your conversation design role. This requires you to gain experience with voice user interface (VUI) design, virtual assistants, and conversational AI projects. Interacting with AI chatbots and virtual assistants can help you discover how these technologies work and how to improve them.

Tools and technologies

Conversation design professionals perform their responsibilities using a variety of tools and technologies. Some essential tools that feature in their workflow include:

  • Voiceflow. This platform helps conversational AI teams to design and build AI-powered chatbots. Voiceflow provides an abstraction over underlying deep learning models and machine learning algorithms, meaning teams can easily use the already-developed infrastructure to develop customized chatbots.
  • Google Assistant SDK. Google Assistant SDK features a collection of different tools, plugins, and libraries that facilitate the creation of custom visual and voice experiences. With Google Assistant SDK, conversation designers can easily integrate natural language understanding (NLU) abilities into an application to improve conversation flows.
  • Amazon Alexa Skills Kit. Conversation designers use Alexa Skills Kit to provide voice-based conversational experiences. For instance, these professionals assist in building apps that respond to different voice commands like “play music” and “check news.”

Artificial intelligence is also tightly integrated into the conversation design workflow. AI applications like ChatGPT, Midjourney, and Dall-E can process user inputs and respond with appropriate outputs. These tools are also contextually aware, meaning they can keep track of previous interactions and use them to craft new responses. As a result, AI apps can deliver more natural conversational experiences.

Behind the scenes, AI platforms like ChatGPT use large language models (LLMs) to generate conversational content. So, understanding how these AI apps and LLMs function enables conversational designers to build dynamic dialog flows suitable for modern applications.

ChatGPT and other text-based generative AI tools also make it easier for conversation design experts to create content at scale. These AI platforms can also help them with rapid prototyping, A/B testing, and refining conversational experiences.

Building a portfolio and finding jobs

Once you’ve gained the necessary skills and knowledge, create a strong portfolio showcasing your conversation design projects. Portfolios allow potential clients to see or interact with some of your work and gauge your skills. Including different projects can help show your ability to excel in diverse areas and industries, exposing you to new opportunities.

Leverage social media platforms like LinkedIn, podcasts, and industry networks to showcase your expertise. While at it, maintain an active online presence to connect with mentors and peers who can help you grow. You should also regularly update your online profile, covering aspects like your bio, picture, and links to your projects. If you’re on multiple social platforms, maintain a consistent brand image to allow potential clients to know you well.

As more companies adopt AI, the demand for conversation designers is set to increase. If you’re looking for conversation designer jobs, look for opportunities in tech startups and roles in tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google. Many companies advertise open roles on official websites and social sites like LinkedIn. So, visit respective company pages to stay updated.

Another alternative is to engage in independent work on platforms like Upwork—where you can collaborate with multiple clients to quickly build a diverse portfolio. Being a contractor also means working independently. You can choose the type of projects to work on and specialize in whatever industry you wish.

The tech scene is constantly changing. As a result, you should stay updated with the latest trends. Join online communities on platforms like Reddit, where you can discuss different AI and conversation design topics. Enrolling in the Conversation Design Institute can also equip you with the latest skills and knowledge you need to thrive.

Real-world applications and use cases

Conversational AI applications are revolutionizing many fields, including:

  • Customer service. Many companies use AI chatbots to provide customers with answers to frequently asked questions, retrieve specific resources, and guide users across the app. For example, organizations can integrate ChatGPT into their systems, train it with custom data, and use the chatbot for customer support.
  • Virtual assistants. Siri and Alexa are good examples of conversational AI agents that help individuals perform tasks like playing music, searching for information, and scheduling appointments. Conversation design makes it possible for these technologies to provide intuitive conversational experiences.
  • E-commerce. E-commerce platforms are using conversational AI apps to enhance the overall customer experience. For instance, virtual assistants help users find specific items and guide them in the checkout process. Such chatbots also analyze user’s data, identify preferences, and recommend suitable products.

Conversation design is an emerging field capable of enhancing the customer experience and influencing different business metrics. Through conversational design, businesses can deliver more engaging and personalized user experiences. It allows customers and users to submit inputs and receive responses that address their needs—leading to higher satisfaction.

The conversation design process can also streamline issue resolution processes. By having efficient dialog flows, conversational AI apps can provide answers to questions and guide customers in resolving issues.

As more companies adopt AI, conversation design will play an increasingly significant role in emerging technologies and industries. For example, in health care, conversation design will lead to more robust apps that can provide general information to patients (depending on their inputs) and assist with patient monitoring.

Conversational design will also transform the augmented reality scene, leading to more interactive and immersive experiences. What’s more, conversation design may extend further to cover multi-modal interactions, allowing users to communicate with machines using voice, text, and gestures.

Find conversation designer jobs on Upwork

Conversation designers help shape interactions between humans and technology. These professionals design conversation flows that determine how AI systems respond to different user inputs. As a result, users can interact with these systems and get desired responses to accomplish their goals.

If you’re an aspiring conversation designer, consider enrolling in learning programs to acquire the necessary skills to contribute to the evolving field of conversational AI.

Once you’ve acquired the necessary skills, kickstart your career on Upwork. With conversation design jobs posted regularly, you can find projects to work on to grow your portfolio. Get started today!

Upwork is an OpenAI partner, giving OpenAI customers and other businesses direct access to trusted expert independent professionals experienced in working with OpenAI technologies.

Upwork does not control, operate, or sponsor the other tools or services discussed in this article, which are only provided as potential options. Each reader and company should take the time to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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Conversation Designer: The Role and How To Become One
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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