A Layman’s Guide on all things Amazon Alexa Skill Development

Alexa Skill Development Company

Voice assistants provides a lot more than we think, whether it is setting up quick reminder or ordering food, users can get things done a lot faster and easily than a mobile app, and hence Voice technology / Alexa Skill development is going to be next big thing. Amazon Alexa leads it and have 73% market share in 2019.

In various predictions we see that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be Voice Search and hence the increased importance of Alexa skill development. Each year Alexa is setting high selling records on Amazon. It also becomes #1 Top Free app on Google Play and Apple App Store, as it requires mobile app to setup Alexa first time. Not only echo devices but various other smart home devices that are in top selling list are Alexa enabled devices.

Every business no matter what industry it is operating would need to get in touch with an Alexa skill development company, sooner or later.


6 reasons why Voice will be Next Big thing:

1] It has capability to do almost everything and anything that can be done using Mobile app: As it has capability to develop custom skills, we can develop Alexa skills and can connect it to our existing database and with code we can customize it to perform almost any operation that can be done with website or mobile app.

2] Quickest way of choosing any internal option is possible when you get an alexa skill developed by an Alexa Skill Development agency, for example: if user wants to check his next day’s meetings schedule, he will not need to go through any options/tap one by one. Instead user can directly access by single voice command.

3] Hands Free / eyes free experience and multitasking: After getting an Alexa skill developed, the user can get things done while doing other task like operating something, cooking, reading, exercising, cleaning, driving car etc.

4] When you get an Alexa skill developed by an Alexa Skill development company, it gives user option to perform task and be away from screen, it is beneficial for eyes, eyes conscious people prefer voice assistants over screen based devices.

5] Most natural way of communicating with computers is by getting an Alexa skill developed: old age people who find it difficult to learn to use smart phone, voice command prove to be easiest thing, as it is most natural way communicating.

6] Alexa Skill Development is the best choice over smartphone for Blind and Hand disabled people: As we are discussing voice assistants can perform any task that smartphone does, it is the best for blind and hand disabled people they do not need to struggle or try for using screen based device for getting any info and various other tasks.

Alexa Skill Development

Why should you get your Alexa Skill Developed by an Alexa Skill Development Company?
There are almost 70,000 Skills published on Alexa Skills Store and increasing by the day. Top popular skills have approx. 10,000 Reviews and receiving approx. 15 reviews daily, that is only reviews, imagine its usage.


Planning to get an Alexa Skill Developed?

Work on your idea: So you have an amazing idea and want to avail Alexa skill development services. Now time is to start working on it. Most important thing is to take first step and move ahead step by step. First, we need to identify need of skill and start creating document to list out major points.

Check out your competitors: Go through Amazon Alexa Skill Store on web or on Mobile and check skills related to your idea, and figure out how can your idea be better? or which special feature can you provide to users?

Target Audience: As voice is the most natural way of communication, there are almost all ages of users, from young to old. Before you go for Alexa Skill development, you’ll need to figure out our audience, some skills are completely designed for kids like learning game and some skills to provide help to elders. General skills can have large audience, skills which can be used by anyone.

Choose the right team: Now that you have an idea for your Alexa Skill development and you have checked the market. It’s time to start building it. Choosing the right Alexa skill development company is the most crucial part.

Alexa Skill development being quite new field, there are not so many developers and agencies like we see in Web or Mobile app development. While developing any application there are so many important factors that we need to focus on, apart from technical expertise, we need to check if the Alexa Skill development company really cares about providing us the best solution with proper support.

Amazon Alexa Skill Development


Things to focus on while building Alexa Skill:

Focusing on below points in the process of Alexa Skill development will ensure a great VUI (Voice User Interface). Skill should have a great VUI and it depends on various factors. Some of which say that the users should not be forced to listen long content, users should get right help at the right time, skill should be able to provide proper data suitable to user, skill’s flow should feel like real conversation not like any old customer service phone call.

1] Invocation Name: In the process of Alexa skill development, the invocation name is used for invoking the skill (to start our Alexa skill/app). This must be very clear and meaningful, and something that user can remember, as user needs to call skill’s name to open it. Ideally skill name should be of two words and matching with complete invocation sentence for eg. Alexa, Open Peace World. Here “Peace World” is invocation name. There can be few different words that can be used in place of “Open” like Ask [which is widely used], Begin, Do, Launch, Load etc.

2] Intent: Your Alexa skill development technical team may use this word. Intents is basically the function that our skill will perform. So users can call different Intents to perform different functions. For eg. if any skill does Turn on/off light. So it can have one Intent for Turn on/off light and one Intent for Adding new user and so on.

3] Utterances: In the Alexa skill development process, utterances are synonyms of sentence which we have for calling different intents. While building Alexa Skill there is an option to write utterance manually, these utterances are sentence which user can tell to go to particular intent, or to open particular stage inside our skill. We should write as many utterance as possible. Let’s take an example of a skill for hotel, there can be various utterances for the user to ask, if user wants to ask for breakfast hours, utterances can be:

What are the breakfast hours?
What time does the breakfast service start?
When is breakfast?
What time does the breakfast service end?
Please let me know the hours of breakfast
What are breakfast hours each morning?

Although Alexa automatically understands similar or matching sentences, but it is good to provide many utterances.

4] Music: This part is most important in Alexa skill and unlike mobile app Alexa is based on voice and hence music plays an important role. If you want to start a skill with nice music and play appropriate music at different stages, it makes the skill more compelling and nice to hear. You can find free music files or you can hire someone to create custom music for you. This is an essential part of Alexa Skill development that you can ask the Alexa Skill development agency to incorporate.

Alexa Skill Development Company

While Publishing your Alexa Skill:

a) Beta Test: Amazon Developer console now has new option Beta Test which allows us to share the newly developed skill with others before publishing and we can keep editing our skill while beta test.

To Enable beta testing, you have to go to the distribution option on your In Development skill

b) Be clear with what your skill can do, so users can set correct expectations

c) Skill should encourage users to leave review so you can know what users are expecting from skill

d) Stay up to date with latest Voice technology and implement skills in the best possible way and keep improving it, voice technology is still emerging and will emerge rapidly over the next year, skills will need to be kept updated as well.

Alexa Skill Development Process


Designing for Voice i.e. Alexa Skill Development is very different than designing for screen. We should not think its flow, interaction with user like we think while developing mobile app or website. Instead the best way to design for Alexa skill is to just to practice real conversation like Alexa Skill will initiate when user will tell “this” invocation sentence then what will be response of Alexa and so on.

Here is one example diagram, for flow, we can design any kind of similar diagram:

Designing an initial rough flow of the Alexa Skill development process like above helps a lot in making the whole scenario clear. One good thing with Alexa Skills is that users never have to download any skill as it runs completely on cloud, users only need to enable skill.

Now comes the actual Alexa skill development part, Amazon provides ASK(Alexa Skill Kit) using which we can develop Skills for Alexa, for developing any custom Alexa Skill there are majorly two sections:

1] Amazon Developer Console: Amazon Developer Console has Alexa Skills section and it has good GUI. It is required to publish any Alexa Skill and it contains information about Invocation name, Intents, Utterances, Endpoint.

From here we can distribute skill and can also set Beta test, can invite team members or anyone to do Beta test.

2] Backend: Backend/Endpoint of Alexa Skill, as complete Alexa Skill always runs on Cloud, each and every Alexa Skill requires Endpoint. For this we have two options, we can either create endpoint on AWS Lambda or on Own Server.

a) AWS Lambda provides ready to go setup and hence it can be faster. We do not need to create SSL secured server.

b) Own Server: In this case, we require to have https SSL enable server running on port 443 only, and we can use Flask or any other framework to act as server.

Server will have to handle JSON requests from Alexa and will have to provide JSON response. Both AWS and Own server will do same work internally.

Alexa Skill Development


Functions & Features you want in your Alexa Skill Development –

In this part of Alexa Skill Development, each skill will differ. It depends on features you want in your skill.

It can be:
A normal question and answer or if you want to implement some conversation capability or if you want to connect it to our existing system to our database to provide valuable information to user or if it is a game it will include storytelling, conversation, music on proper steps etc or if the skill is for internal use of business then we will need to use Alexa for business.


Pricing & Budget:

It will almost fully depend on Function & Features you want, as mentioned above.

Another major factor on which pricing depends is which Alexa Skill Development company you would hire, whether they are big agency or team or a single developer.

A Good Alexa Skill Development team should have :

– Voice User Interface designer
– Developer (Python/Node.js etc)
– Quality Assurance Engineer
– Project Manager

Now that you saw all those details about Alexa Skill Development, you may want to hire professional or team to build your Alexa Skill.

Amazon Alexa Skill Development

We would like to help in providing a solution, you can drop your enquiry and we can discuss details and suggestions to create a fantastic Alexa Skill. We have the proper process, expertise and the team to develop Alexa Skill with great standards.

We hope we have covered almost everything needed to know to start building your own Alexa Skill. If you have any doubts/queries/suggestions, please let us know or simply hire us to get going with Alexa Skill Development.

You can reach out to us at sales@pragmatic-voice.com

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