How smart interfaces change your digital experience

Scrolling through news websites, your daily Instagram story check and finding a new Netflix film: Every day we are connected to interfaces especially designed to connect our digital experiences to our lives perfectly.

Manouk van den Berg

The developments in the area of Artificial Intelligence have impact on how we design interfaces and (personalized) content. Here are 3 developments we signaled in the field of smart interfaces:

This is why you do watch that Netflix show

Did you think you chose the shows you’re watching yourself? Netflix has a lot of ways to persuade you into watching their shows. One of those ways is in the images you see on your Netflix feed. When designing these images, multiple versions are created with the different types of Netflix users in mind. This way it’s possible you see a pink and yellow image at the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt show, while your neighbour sees a black and white still from the series. With the use of A/B tests Netflix measures which image is clicked on most, by which usertype. Even better; not only the clicks but also how you watch your shows is measured. Do you finish each episode you watch? Then you see a different image than someone who doesn’t.

The testing of interfaces with the use of A/B testing is already applied with many products. Whats's interesting about the system of Netflix is that they produce specific content for user segments. This makes the content more precise for every distinct user.

Ask a chatbot

When you have a question about a product or an event you want to be helped in the best possible way. This could be by a ‘real’ person but bots can provide you with perfect service nowadays. For the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) we designed the ‘IFFR Box Office Bot’. A lot of IFFR visitors have questions about what films they should watch and are available today. The bot answers their questions.

Behind the bot there is a formula that recognizes specific words from the questions. These words are filtered and linked to a result. When the calculations can’t finalize, the bot asks further for specific subjects. The goal of the bot: providing you with the best film suggestions is realized this way.

Because the bot needs to have a fitting reaction to all kinds of questions, it’s important to think all possible scenarios through when designing the bot. While the designing we realized we couldn’t possibly think all scenarios through. By setting up the prototype and with lots of tests we found more possible scenarios.

Never the same frontpage

Nothing is as variable as the news. One day there’s worldwide news and you want to read all of its updates, while another day multiple types of items are interesting. Vox is one of the biggest news websites in the US.

During the design phase of their new website they had to consider a front page that’s never the same. A smart formula chooses the best front page and looks at three factors:

  1. On the basis of the published news items the system makes 1000 types of front pages. All with a different construction and size. The news can vary from a long article, short article, video, a photo series, to a collection of items. On the basis of this a variable news block is shown.
  2. All 1000 frontpages are scanned on visual presentations. Designers created a set of rules a lay-out must meet, and the frontpages are sorted on points. A lay-out gets more points when its assymetric or when highlighted news gets more space than other news. The system automatically chooses the best lay-out.
  3. The frontpage is shown to the user. When new items are added and you open the website again, you immediately see a different frontpage than you saw before.

Due to this smart formula the frontpage of Vox is never the same, and adapts itself to the user and the news that's lying ahead.

 Even smarter interfaces..

The developments in this article show that interfaces become smarter. Behind the scenes there’s hard work to analyse all data and convert it in an adjusted interface that connects to your needs. Personal data and context of the users keeps getting more important, this information faces real-time adaption and contributes to a better online experience.

Want to read more about Digital Hospitality? Read our vision here.