Bringing to life a historical person: Takeaways of building the William of Orange chatbot.

We brought back William of Orange from his eternal slumber to chat with you once more. Just in time for King’s day, William of Orange yawned, stretched his limbs and took to the computer in chatbot form. How did we do this and what takeaways can be gained from this feat?

Tone of voice

We have had a long discussion about what William would say and how he would do it. In Standard Dutch relatively little of the experience would remain and in German (his mother tongue) not everyone would understand him. We therefore chose to tweak his Dutch to “contemporary old Dutch” so that everyone could understand him and you would chat with a “real historical figure” with a wink. Ye Olde Hark!

Determine your goal

To teach a broad audience a piece of history in an accessible way (and show them our work!).

A chatbot always has a purpose. Often this is “returning a product” or “processing a complaint”. In the same way, William of Orange must also have a goal. But the combination of chatbots and education is relatively new, in fact, we are frontrunners in this domain. William of Orange gave us the ultimate opportunity to introduce the world to chatbots for education!

Facts, facts and more facts…

What are you going to say when you have a very eventful live to explain? Well, lots of facts. Starting with his marriages, children, highs, lows, and of course, his end. But also the way in which Balthasar Gerards (his murderer) came to his end (quite horrible… Willem doesn’t just spill his guts on that one… Get it?). We have worked to be able to answer as wide a spectrum of questions as possible. This includes a lot of research about what people would ask!

Just a chatbot is not enough

There’s no conversations without website visitors. In collaboration with ThiemeMeulenhoff, we started a campaign in which we literally put ourselves in the shoes of William of Orange. The Father of the Fatherland also benefits from a bit of marketing! See the video below.

And what did it yield?

Lots of traffic, interested parties and a few very nice afternoons with William of Orange at the Uithof in Utrecht!

You can still talk to William (in Dutch)!