Chatbot Development, Frameworks and Tools
Best Bot Building Platforms for Beginners
So, you've decided you want to build a chatbot. What's the best place to start and which bot building platform should you choose?
August 22, 2019
Building a chatbot can seem like an intimidating process. There are many factors to consider, and developing a truly conversational bot requires that you surmount a number of obstacles. It also involves understanding user intent at a deep level. Thankfully, there’s really no wrong way to get started building your bot. If you are technologically inclined, you can code the bot by hand, although this can be complex and time-consuming, especially for beginners. There are a number of bot-building platforms out there that can walk you through the development process and help you at each step of the way, shedding light on just what will make your bot tick. Let’s explore which platform might be the best for you.
When you first start building bots, you may not be ready to make a significant financial investment in the process. In that case, you might consider Engati, a free platform that steps you through basic bot development and explains the core concepts of machine learning. Although some bot-building sites are for specific platforms, such as Facebook or Kik, Engati is more flexible—bots that are developed using the service are compatible with Messenger and Kik, in addition to Slack, Telegram, Skype, and more.
If you’re still unsure, Engati offers a personalized demo, and an Engati representative walks you through its capabilities step by step. Additionally, much like with Discover.bot, you can use the Engati site as a resource to learn more about bot building. The Use Cases section explores a variety of case studies from companies across the industry spectrum that have built bots with Engati to help them streamline work.
Developing a bot can take a lot of time, especially if you’re developing one for your own business. There are plenty of considerations and technical hurdles to overcome when creating a bot that is useful to customers and conversational enough to answer basic queries. ChatterOn offers the opportunity for beginning developers to create a chatbot in less than five minutes, which seems like the perfect option for a bot enthusiast on a tight schedule. The platform is able to offer this by maintaining a selection of more than 20 prebuilt chatbots, complete with intent, entities, and conversation flow already constructed. As the developer, you need only to make a few personalizing revisions before your bot is ready to be launched.
To support these revisions, ChatterOn bots support a wide variety of integrated functions, including synchronization with cloud platforms and user payment processing. With the option to connect your existing backend APIs with the ChatterOn platform, integration can be seamless, allowing you more time to attend to your other tasks.
Building bots should be a collaborative process.
Although Engati and ChatterOn are more structured, Botkit offers the user a more collaborative experience with other bot developers. The platform is an open source developer tool that operates as a single part of a wider set of tools that make up the Microsoft Bot Framework. Botkit teaches users bot-coding basics and provides instructions on how to use simple code to define chatbot behavior and response capabilities.
In addition, Botkit has a network of more than 10,000 bot developers who are ready to answer your questions and help you through the process. The platform has cultivated a sizable community of developers building bots and messaging apps in its #botkit Slack channel. It’s a great place to discuss ideas or to simply read through the chat logs and explore trending topics on the future of AI. Botkit also provides in-depth development guides on its site, in addition to a blog on issues related to machine learning and the bot industry.
If you want to build a chatbot but have absolutely no idea what to do or where to start, Flow XO might be the builder for you. The platform is specifically geared toward users who have little or no experience with developing chatbots. It allows you to quickly and simply build effective chatbots to optimize communication with customers or other users on the site of your choice.
Flow XO operates through a three-step process. First, you choose a home for your bot—whether it be Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, or Twilio SMS. Then, you connect your Flow XO account to that service and start building out your chatbot workflows. These workflows are essentially the intelligence of the bot and can be customized to fit the desired effect (for instance, emphasizing customer conversions), and you can make these workflows as simple or technologically advanced as you wish. Finally, you integrate your apps.
Flow XO allows you to make your way through the entire bot development process—without any coding or bot-building experience. If you need help or support, the site features a robust FAQ section, along with a series of in-depth articles on Flow XO capabilities and the potential applications for chatbots constructed using the platform.
Unlike some of the other popular chatbot-building platforms, Chatfuel is specifically geared toward developing bots to be used within Facebook Messenger. In fact, 46 percent of all bots on Facebook Messenger were built using Chatfuel, including the bots for the official pages of LEGO, Adidas, and T-Mobile. In addition to being Messenger-specific, Chatfuel primarily operates for business owners, with its main benefits aimed at increasing sales and qualifying leads using chatbots. No previous bot-building experience is necessary to get started with Chatfuel, and its free option allows for up to 1,000 subscribers and all of the basic features (including the essential tools necessary for inbox automation).
Although its list of current companies can seem a bit daunting, the Chatfuel mission includes assisting small business owners, especially those that are looking to explore chatbots as a way to streamline customer service. If Facebook is a primary point of contact between you and your customer base, consider Chatfuel as among the best ways to get started building a bot and to gain experience with conversation design.
What's best for you?
Learning how to build a chatbot from scratch is a valuable skill, but sometimes time or budget constraints can mean that using an established bot-building platform might be the more efficient method. If you’re looking to find out more about the hurdles you may face at the outset of your bot-design journey—along with mistakes to avoid—check out our Bot Development page. For more information on what exactly chatbots are and how they can be useful for your business, take a few minutes to read through our Beginner’s Guide to Bots. With so many comprehensive bot-building platforms for all skill levels, getting started has never been easier!