Building conversational websites: A product review of chatbot tool landbot.io
I’ve just used landbot.io to build the miggle website. I talk about why here and about why, if I’ve not struck gold with my first foray into developing a chatbot style service, that I’m not too bothered.
The headline is that landbot.io has allowed me to replaced my website for 19 hours work and €50 a month! That’s its biggest positive.
If they disappear tomorrow, or I find something better, my investment thus far as been minimal — and it’s also been a good learning experience.
I also like that it’s a product built in Europe, as it feels kind of home grown. I’ve got a little tired of using tools of US origin which think that having a site in English (US) nails effective internationalisation for the UK market, because it doesn’t.
But, these positives aside, I think there are a number of things which could be better:-
- From a GDPR compliance perspective it’s a total nightmare. I think I might have found a workaround that will enable me to allow my customers to enact their right to be forgotten — but landbot.io seem to have forgotten to add it as a feature! There are a number of other GDPR holes as well. I raised these with support but…
- Support is lousy. I’ve raised four issues two or three days ago and have only had an unsatisfactory response to one of them so far.
- If they are envisaging that people might use this to build a website in its entirety, like I have, then they need to think about how they handle menus, accessibility, SEO and cookie compliance better.
- The builder interface really needs the ability to better group, select and move multiple units to make the editing process less painful.
- Also, if I’ve got a number of units which join together to make one bit of functionality — like a contact form — it’d be good to have those all hidden under a single box which groups them, to make the edit screen more concise. That might enable me to have one line in and out of a contact form. It might also enable me to send a line to a block in a completely separate part of the builder screen (or even in a different bot) where that block type references one of these groups.
- One work around to this might be to build these units of functionality as separate bots. However, for that to work you’d need to be able to create ‘child’ chatbots and share data via variables across them.
- This might also enable me to run certain bits of functionality at certain times. Like a customer survey, poll or competition.
- Alongside allowing customers to be forgotten, I should be able to delete entire conversations and customers from the chat manager. Archiving them is not enough.
- Searching through chats on certain criteria would be a useful addition as well — like country of origin, or on the value of a custom variable.
- I like that I can store responses in custom variables, but, if there is a way to store these in an array, I’d like for that to be more obvious. That way I could look at the different routes people take through the site as they move through repeatable patterns — like viewing team profiles for example. My custom variable ‘options_team’ will only store the last value sent to it, so without trawling through individual chats, I can’t see from a CSV download whether a user visited four team pages or one.
- I’d like to find a clearer way to pass dynamic URLs to part of a chat from a separate webpage. So, for example, if my chat has a persistent menu of six items, I should be able to reference those menu items from any web page. That would allow me to better insert a chatbot into a web page, and, as a result, it would enable me to be able to manage SEO, accessibility, cookie compliance etc. more effectively because my entire conversational website would be just a component of the page, and not, in effect, the page by virtue of an iframe which is set to 100% height and width.
- Being able to pass URLs like this might also enable for better unit testing of certain components. i.e. I’d like to test my contact form functionality by passing certain variables to specific parts of the bot. Right now, you always have to start at the beginning.
- I’d like to see a publically available roadmap of product features, as well as better ways of making feature suggestions, reporting bugs and seeing examples of what else other people have built.
- I’d like to be able to export some kind of JSON or XML output of my chatbots so that I could archive them outside of the SaaS walled garden. It scares me shitless that there are no apparent back ups.
- Better security. 2FA would be great, given I could have a lot of customer data here. I also seem to be permanently signed in!
- Support for file types, like PDFs, as well as media types. Audio support as well.
- I’m expecting way too much here I know… But voice support!
I realise some people may have the answers or workarounds to these — or that landbot.io have already included these features and I’ve just missed them. I’d be interested to find out.
I’m yet to try the Facebook Messenger bot part of landbot.io. Facebook is really of very little interest to my customers. Integration with things like Whatsapp, Telegram, Slack etc. would be really cool. I believe there are tools that do this — but I’m not so sure what they are like in the browser.