I built a bot this morning … it took an hour

I’m not technical. I’m a PM with mediocre engineering skills, at best. This morning, I built a Slackbot in about an hour.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I wanted to create something of my own to better understand what’s possible, how these things work, and (if I’m lucky) how I could use them to make my days more productive.

Here’s my main takeaway: it’s SO MUCH EASIER to build a bot vs. a web application. I suppose I knew this going in — many people have already made this pronouncement on their blogs — but it didn’t resonate until I rolled up my sleeves. Without the distraction of UI and interaction, you can exclusively focus on functionality — which cuts development time massively…it’s great.

I think this lower barrier to creation will have a few rather substantial consequences:

  • More people will be able to create products; and the playing field will be leveled as everyone will have similar UI’s and interactions. Today, in the consumer space, you must have great design to stand a chance, and that serves as a major barrier to entry for many teams.
  • Teams will be pushed create better products. UI and visual design are oftentimes a distraction. When we were building Evenly, we started pushing pixels when growth slowed; it was a way of avoiding larger issues at hand. Bots’ text UI constraints will provide the focus necessary to elevate product value.
  • Bots will, and should, replace basic web services. Anything that doesn’t require intensive engagement or navigation can be moved to text interactions. At Remind, we’re using bots to handle most support inquiries and account adjustments; at Square, we had a team dedicated to building a web app for that same functionality. Bots have saved Remind thousands of hours already.

This is just the start of my project. I’ll continue building my bot and learning from the experience. If you have any interest in messaging, bots, or ai — there’s no better way to understand what’s possible then to dig in!

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