This is part two of a three part series on designing, developing, and launching a voice-first trivia skill on the Amazon Alexa platform.
Part 1 of this series covered best practices in designing and developing our Amazon Alexa trivia skill called The Temperature Game. In this post, we’ll go over best practices for getting your skill certified by the Alexa team.
Best Practice #1: Spend time thinking through your invocation phrase. Focus on recallability and ease of pronunciation.
The invocation phrase is how people access your skill via an Alexa device (think of it as tapping on an icon to launch a mobile app on your phone) and is one of the most important things to think through when getting your skill ready for certification.
When we first developed our trivia game, we were using the invocation phrase “Guess The Temperature.” However, after testing with users we noticed that they were forgetting the phrase when attempting to launch the skill and, more importantly, when referencing the skill they were calling it “the temperature game.” This led to an aha moment across the team—“Alexa, open the temperature game” felt much more natural and descriptive than “Alexa, open guess the temperature.”
When thinking through your own invocation phrases, focus on ease of recallability and pronunciation—sometimes it pays to go generic. As an example, Hellman’s (the mayonnaise brand) has a skill for recipes—instead of invoking the skill with the Hellman’s brand, they’ve chosen the much easier to remember and more generic “best recipes” invocation phrase.
Best Practice #2: Go through Amazon’s skill certification checklist prior to developing your skill.
The Amazon team has put together a great guide to help get your skill through the certification process. In terms of design, spend time going through section 4 on voice interface and user experience—this will give you an idea of what the Alexa team is looking for through the certification process. Common feedback we’ve seen includes notes on help intents (make sure your help intent is useful, accessible from anywhere in your skill, and ends in a prompt) and stop/cancel/replay intents, so make sure you’ve got all your intents rigged up properly.
Best Practice #3: Although it typically goes quicker, budget a week to go through the Amazon skill certification process.
For those familiar with publishing a mobile app on iOS, the process for submitting a skill to the Alexa skill store will be roughly similar: add copy and media for descriptions/icons and submit your skill for certification. Amazon will review your submission along multiple criteria and then either provide feedback on issues to fix or certify your skill.
Turnaround for skills that meet the criteria is typically fast—a day or two! However, first-time skill builders should typically budget around a week to respond to feedback from reviewers. Once your skill is certified by Alexa it will be live in the skill store for anyone to download.
Related Amazon Alexa Posts:
- Announcing Amazon Alexa development integration and launch of The Grand Tour skill
- The Year Ahead for Voice Apps on Amazon Alexa
- Creating a Quiz Game Skill - The Temperature Game Part 1