Last Thursday I had the sudden idea to replace our website with a chatbot, and by Monday morning, the change was live.
The whole process took me 19 hours. So far it’s cost me €50 for my first month’s subscription. I’ve got the chatbot embedded in a page published via GitPages, so that bit is costing me nothing. And I’m pointing my domain at it via a free Cloudflare account using a free SSL. This version of our website is the fifth iteration of the miggle site since we started in 2007, and other than the first one, is the only one I’ve done end to end myself. It’s certainly the iteration which has taken the least amount of time.
Why did I do this?
- I’m at a crossroads with my business and, as yet, not fully set on what I want to do next. A conversational website might help establish market need for whatever I offer.
- I heard somewhere a while ago that in five years time all websites will be chatbots. I scoffed at the time. But I actually think that the speed at which these can be got up and running might mean we see a lot more of them replace simple sites where a customer knows roughly what they want and just need to be steered towards a point of enquiry. Very similar to what happened with calling businesses up and automated phone receptionist solutions — IVRs (interactive voice response).
- We are lucky that just now we can experiment with a few different ideas. Our websites have never really been much more than brochure ware and we’ve never done more than about 1200 unique visits a month. Like many small business websites it primarily exists to demonstrate that we do what we say we do — so provides validation and reassurance more than it acts as a sales channel.
- Given I only had the idea to replace the site with a chatbot six days ago I’d have to count myself pretty fortunate if I hit gold with the first SaaS product I tried. But I don’t mind if this first strike is a miss, because it was very quick to get something up, we’ll get some learns from it, and the approach, at this stage, is I think new enough to give us something different to talk about.
- The majority of our content has, in recent times, sat on a separate blog, and that remains unchanged.
- The tool I’ve chosen — landbot.io — does have some significant limitations, in terms of the product and how the service is offered. These are worth thinking about in general if you are in anyway considering taking the same approach. Read my review of that here.
- Some visitors will no doubt find this frustrating if they come away from using it feeling like they were pushed down a certain path at the expense of finding the info they wanted.
Given the reasons I’ve stated here as to why we are exiting the web development market, the irony isn’t lost on me that I’ve replaced my website for 19 hours work and €50 a month!