In addition to the conditional rules that turn a knowledge base into an expert system capable of providing reasoning and guidance, it’s possible to provide other things. These other elements are also in the knowledge base, and are meant to benefit users.
There are a few ways to provide information to users, depending on the system. For explanation purposes, it’s easiest to divide it into “inline” information and “summary” information.
Inline information is delivered to users while they are working their way through the logic-based rules or branches of the system. This form of delivery breaks information into bite-sized chunks that don’t overwhelm users. It can also allow the system to inform or educate users about the domain to put them in a better question to answer subsequent questions or perform actions necessary to keep using the system.
It might look like this:
Question -> Answer -> Information -> Question -> Answer -> Information ->…
Summary information is delivered to users once they are finished. A question & answer approach might look like this:
Question -> Answer -> Question -> Answer -> Question – Answer -> Information
Logic rules that have a series of questions chained together all firing in sequence will likely have information at the end:
Fact 1 + Fact 2 + Fact 3 + Fact 4 -> Conclusion A -> Conclusion B -> Conclusion C -> Information about the conclusion
Tools are really action-oriented resources users can use to work toward a certain goal or objective. They are often self-help oriented.
For example, imagine the expert system is meant to emulate the help a human expert might provide to help a user determine their monthly disposable income. A specialized calculator where users input income and expenses could calculate the disposable income amount.
Because expert systems can’t help every user, it might be necessary to quickly move some people out of the system and into the hands of another expert or service provider. These avenues can be called “off-ramps” because they move the user out of the system instead of letting them continue.
A good off ramp will be as seamless as possible for users. Optimally, it will become a “warm hand-off” where the other service provider is alerted to and prepared for the user, and where the user is prepared to receive the service.
FAQs and help text
Users may need some help to figure out the interface or domain-related issues while they are using the system. Frequently asked questions and other forms of help text will support users with these challenges.
Feedback collection points
Some systems may allow users to provide feedback about their experience using the system. This feedback can cover things including:
- satisfaction with resources
- usability of the interface
- identification of errors or things that appear to be missing
- things that are unclear
- general suggestions for improvement
System feedback collected directly from users can be used to support a continuous improvement process. The more the expert system gets used, the better it gets.