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How startup Swell replaced their app with a chatbot Written by Peter Buchroithner on 23. January 2017

And there’s plenty of them to follow…
But first of all: I don’t believe in chatbots. At least not as an AI solution that replaces most websites and apps out there.
However, this article is not about that.
Matt Schlicht, founder of Chatbots Magazine, called chatbots “lightweight apps integrated into messenger” which is an explanation that I fully agreed with.
Until last week.
Our development team at Swell managed to copy our native iOS app with all it’s features into a chatbot within Facebook Messenger.
So today we officially launched Swelly 3.0, a fully functional app integrated in Facebook Messenger.
Thanks to webviews ( HTML5 windows) it’s no longer just light-weight apps integrated in Messenger, but it gives developers a fantastic playground for creative ways to rebuild fully functional iOS and Android apps within the Facebook Messenger.
Here’s the direct comparison of our native app on iOS versus the chatbot on Facebook Messenger. It’s always the app on the left and the bot to your right!

The voting feed

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 13.13.46

Creating a swell (2 Photos + an A/B question)

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 13.14.14

Share a swell with friends, the community or experts

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 13.14.34
Now that was relatively simple, but it required some compromises on style and design. We thought of using webviews to create a full screen voting experience and to show the pictures as good as possible. The problem here is that we would lose the chat history, which the users like a lot and which also helps us collect data.
So let’s jump into the more complex stuff that needed a lot of thought before we could integrate all the features within the chatbot:
Follow a user: The “follow” function is key to create a social network. It’s pretty obvious why and how to do it within a native app, but not so easy within Messenger.
Notifications: The most important part to assure fast votes is our notifications and messaging setting. We notify you when a friend needs help. So when a friend creates a Swell you get a push notification within the app or a message by the Swelly bot saying, “User XY needs your help on #whattowear.”
Almost 40 per cent of our users come organic through friends, who either invite others or share a Swell with a friend who doesn’t use the app or chatbot yet.
The private sharing works way better within the chatbot, as we send a direct message via the user’s account to his friend.
Featured and Trending: To boost your reach within Swell you can content can be featured or marked as trending. Featured is hand-picked, meaning a team member decides, and if there’s great content we might feature it.
Trending is algorithmic, meaning when a lot of people vote and the percentage of skips is very low, it becomes trending.
Of course, you also get a notification.
Now, will we kill our app? Well, time and KPIs will tell…

Photos via Swell