2019-15 - Exploration of a chat like design pattern (chat wizard)


Transforms a simple form into a conversation like experience used as a wizard. It displays a bubble in the bottom right corner allowing to start the “chat”. At any moment, user can switch between enhanced chat window back to the “basic” form. Chat wizard is built to meet accessibility.

Use when

A wizard would help users find their way in content and point them to the right information through a decision tree pattern.

Do not use when

A form could be replaced by the chat wizard for a more dynamic experience.

Working examples

Working examples on Canada.ca

How to implement

There are two ways to implement the chat wizard. The more common way is to code a form, and add according classes and data attributes. The other way is to load it from a JSON file, which will generate both the form and the wizard, is useful in case one would want to implement the same chat wizard on multiple pages.

1. Code a form

  1. Code a form that has a decision tree logic, with the idea that an answer could affect what the next question would be. At the moment, all choices of answer to a question must be radio buttons only.
  2. Wrap your form in a section, aside or div tag with a class named “.wb-chtwzrd”, along with the class “.hidden” to avoid the basic form to flicker on load. Other options are:
    • A data attribute named “data-wb-chtwzrd-avatar” can be added with a path to an image in order to change the default avatar in the bubble and the chat window. Recommended dimensions are 45x45 pixels.
    • A class named “.wb-chtwzrd-inline” can be added to have the chat experience inside the content and not in a separate window. This feature should only be used on a dedicated page, since it will start right away and steals the show to other content.
  3. Give it a title (outside of you form) as an H2. That heading will be the title of the form, as well as the title of the chat window and the text of the notification message.
  4. The action of your form will be the default destination page at the end of the flow. The method will define if the form will be submitted through the URL bar or in the body at the end. You can give it a name attribute too, for tracking purposes.
  5. You will need to start your form with a greetings paragraph. That paragraph must have a “.wb-chtwzrd-greetings” class and will be the first message coming from the bot when the chat window is opened.
  6. Same thing for the last message at the end of the conversation which is a farewell paragraph that you can put at the bottom of your form and that needs to have the “.wb-chtwzrd-farewell” class.
  7. If you add a regular paragraph right after your greetings one, this will be considered as an introduction message, which will be mentioned by the bot right after the greetings.
  8. The submit button is necessary as it indicates what the final submit button will show at the end of the conversation. Plus, you can add a data attribute there named “data-wb-chtwzrd-replace” that allows you to give a different value to your chat wizard than what’s in the form. This data attribute can be used on almost every textual tag inside the “.wb-chtwzrd” container to indicate what the chat wizard should display different than what the form displays.
  9. In the form itself, each question must be wrapped around a fieldset tag, with a unique ID attribute. 10. The question has to be in a legend tag, to which for instance you can use the “data-wb-chtwzrd-replace” attribute to have a more conversation-based question for the wizard.
  10. Choices of answer must be in an unordered list, with a class named “.list-unstyled” to not show the bullet points and a class “.mrgn-tp-md” for spacing at your own taste.
  11. The label tag has to wrap your input of type radio, with the text value wrapped in a span tag.
  12. The input itself has a name that represents that question in the final GET query string or POST, along with the value attribute for this input in particular. Also:
    • The data attribute named “data-wb-chtwzrd-next” must be used on the inputs to indicate the next question (fieldset ID) to present to the user. The last question of any possible conversation in the decision tree must have that data attribute set to “none”, in order to end the conversation.
    • The data attribute name “data-wb-chtwzrd-url” provides the plugin with the updated destination of the redirection at the final submit.

There you have it! A conversational-like experience driven by a fairly simple form.

2. Import a JSON File

Accepting JSON File as an input for batch deployments. If you have a JSON file that follows the Data API logic shown below, it can be implemented as a chat wizard instance.


All you need on your page is to add a data attribute named “data-wb-chtwzrd-src” to your section, aside or div tag that has the “.wb-chtwzrd” class, and provide it with the path to your JSON file.

Source code

Get the three pieces that you need here:

You will have to readjust the path to the avatar image in the CSS file depending on your own implementation set-up. The code was altered from the one on Canada.ca in order to make it work on its own and not as a plugin part of GCWeb. It still needs a base style from WET or GCWeb however.

Alternatively, you can get the always up-to-date code on Canada.ca:

You can hit “CTRL + F” and search for chat wizard in both the CSS and the JavaScript files, or just look near the end of the files, it’s all in there; nothing more, nothing less. However, it needs jQuery as a dependency; if you are using GCWeb, you are covered.

Rationale & history (previous documentation)


Some existing tools


Good starter kit / example to build a simple, reliable, robust, and nonetheless accessible bot.


Neat design and well built features wise. The possibility to go back in the conversation and the UI feedback on every input keeps the user engaged and supported in their journey.


Pretty straight forward example of what a conversational form is conceptually. Note that there is a possibility to resume a conversation that happened in the past, which is a great feature in theory. In the back-end, a decision tree is defined on a draw board, which makes it easy to build your own conversational form or chat bot.


Visually, esthetically, the interaction pattern and it’s configuration look easy to use from a author perspective. It’s rendered interactive user interface of a chat provide a nice user perception of an intimate website experience.

However, a quick look at the rendered content markup and the source code of the page has revealled a lot of web accessibilty error and potential error. Baed on the type of error there could be a considerable effort and testing to make that feature conforming to the web accessibility guideline.

The conversation flow seems to be set into one unique path.


Plan draft

Requirement and idea of suggestion

Web accessibility

Potentially at risk

Enhanced interface


The thresholds are:


To think about

First Release


Semantically, the entire code related to the chat wizard should be located right after the closing main tag, assuming the chat is general and not directly related to the content. If the chat is related to the context of the page, then it should be placed underneath the H1 tag, rught before the first H2.

Closed State

The closed state is a state in which the user can only see a floating chat “bubble” to open the wizard, if the screen meets or exceed the screen size requirements. Under the size requirements, a static button can be found where the rest of the semantic for the wizard is.

Submit basic form

Needs content here.

Stand-By State

In this state, the user hasn’t opened the wizard yet, so the feature is equal to the Closed state. What differenciate the Stand-by state with the Closed one, Stand-by encourages the user to click on the bubble to open the wizard, with a notification.

Opened State


See images below. This is where the core of the feature is.


Same window as in the overlay version, but taking the entire screen.

Basic Form

Simple plain form as an alternative to the conversational form, spitting out the same results at the end of the line.

Focus order

Default focus order matches the document structure, which is top to bottom and left to right. The focus is cyclic and keeps the user trapped in the form, but it can be escaped by selecting the close button at the end of the cycle. When the user sends a message, the next focus


Submit button and options

Options are inputs to fill, while Submit button sends the selected input value to the conversation in a message from the user, in answer to the question from the bot.

Minimize button

This button minimizes the chat wizard to its initial close state, but keeps the conversation “active”. Opening it back would resume the conversation from where it was left off.

Switch button

This button makes a switch between the conversational form and the basic form. It can be found in the header of the chat window.



Wireframe - visual representation of the UI - Overview


Wireframe - visual representation of the UI - Mobile


Wireframe - visual representation of the UI - Wizard Window


Wireframe - visual representation of the UI - Basic Form

Data API

Here is the JavaScript Object that is being generated and that must be followed in order to make the magic work. If a JSON file follows that logic, it can be implemented as a chat wizard instance.

Data API



Prototype 1

Markup Basic Structure

See HTML Code

<aside class="chtbt-container">
	<header class="chtbt-header">
		<h2 class="chtbt-title">I can help you find the information you need</h2>
	<div class="chtbt-body">
		<div class="chtbt-message-container">
			<h3 class="wb-inv">Conversation history</h3>
				<div class="row">
					<div class="col-xs-9">
						<div class="chtbt-message">
							<div class="chtbt-bot-avatar">
								<span class="glyphicon glyphicon-user"></span>
							<h4>Hi! I can help direct you to programs and services you might be interested in. Would you like to get started by answering a few questions?</h4>
				<div class="row">
					<div class="col-xs-9 col-xs-offset-3">
						<div class="chtbt-message">
							<p class="chtbt-rollback"><a href="#">Modify this answer</a></p>
		<form class="chtbt-interaction-container">
			<h3 class="wb-inv">Conversation interaction</h3>
				<legend>Are you:</legend>
				<ul class="list-inline">
							<input type="radio" value="young" name="q2" />
							a young Canadian
							<input type="radio" value="emloyer" name="q2" />
							an employer or organization looking for funding to support youth
			<button type="submit" class="btn btn-default">Back</button>
			<button type="submit" class="btn btn-primary">Next step</button>
			<button type="submit" class="btn btn-link">Skip this step</button>

Alpha Version

See the Alpha Version

Beta version

Download zip file


Code a Form (To be revised)

In order to be configured properly, you need the following:

Example (Subject to change)
This is your HTML code

<section class="wb-chtwzrd wb-inv">
	<h2>Help us help you</h2>
	<form data-wb-chtwzrd='{"sendWizard":"Show results", "first":"q1", "titleWizard":"I can help you find the information you need", "startText":"Hi! I can help direct you to programs and services you might be interested in. Let's begin...", "endText":"Thank you. I have built a page with results you may find resourceful."}' action="page1.html">
		<p>If you are an employer or organization looking for funding, you can find relevant information on the <a href="pagex.html">funding page</a>.</p>
			<legend data-chtwzrd-q='{"labelWizard":"Are you:", "qId":"q1"}'>What would you describe yourself as?</legend>
			<ul class="list-unstyled mrgn-tp-md">
						<input type="radio" value="young-canadian" name="describe" data-chtwzrd-a='{"next":"q2"}' />
						<span>a young Canadian</span>
						<input type="radio" value="employer-organization-funding-support-youth" name="describe" data-chtwzrd-a='{"next":"none", "url":"page2.html"}' />
						<span>an employer or organization looking for funding to support youth</span>
			<legend data-chtwzrd-q='{"labelWizard":"Great! And are you:", "qId":"q2"}'>In what situation are you?</legend>
			<ul class="list-unstyled mrgn-tp-md">
						<input type="radio" value="high-school" name="situation" data-chtwzrd-a='{"next":"q3"}' />
						<span>a high school student</span>
						<input type="radio" value="cegep-student" name="situation" data-chtwzrd-a='{"next":"q3"}' />
						<span>a CÉGEP student</span>
			<legend data-chtwzrd-q='{"labelWizard":"Awesome! And would you like to:", "qId":"q3"}'>What is your goal?</legend>
			<ul class="list-unstyled mrgn-tp-md">
						<input type="radio" value="get-job" name="goal" data-chtwzrd-a='{"next":"none", "url":"page3.html"}' />
						<span>get a job</span>
		<button type="submit" class="btn btn-sm btn-primary">Search</button>

Import a JSON File

Accepting JSON File as an input for batch deployments. If you have a JSON file that follows the Data API logic shown above, it can be implemented as a chat wizard instance.

<section class="container wb-chtwzrd wb-inv" data-chtwzrd-src="path-to-json/form1.json"></section>

To do

Improvements planned