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April 17, 2018Jeff Blankenburg
Editor's Note: This is an installment of our new series called Things Every Alexa Skill Should Do, which highlights the important features and lessons that every skill builder can use to make their skills more engaging for customers. Follow the series to learn, get inspired, and build engaging Alexa skills.
It can be easy to come up with an invocation name for your Alexa skill, but it’s more important to come up with a name that’s memorable. A great example of this is “Alexa, open the Magic Door.” The invocation name, paired with the starting phrase “open” paints a rich image in your head. When you open this skill, you’re even presented with the sound of a creaking door. This kind of effective invocation name makes it much easier for your customers to remember the name of your skill the next time and return to it in the future.
Crafting a great invocation name is only the first step. I’m currently building a game skill that gives the user three clues, and asks them to determine what those clues have in common. I came up with a long list of clever names for this game, but eventually settled on the name “Three Clues.” It describes exactly what the game is, and it’s easy to remember. On its own, it works pretty well, but that’s not enough.
The catch to this is that users don’t generally just say your invocation name when they want to start your skill. They say things like:
“Alexa, let’s play Three Clues.”
“Alexa, start Three Clues.”
“Alexa, open Three Clues.”
You create a memorable statement for your customer within these sample utterances. “Alexa, let’s play Three Clues” is a perfect example of a memorable utterance, primarily because it is phrased the way a user would say it to a friend. It’s a natural speech pattern, and one that your user won’t have to commit to memory to reproduce.
You’re not just limited to the words “open” or “play,” however. The list of starting phrases a user can say is pretty extensive, including words like “ask,” “begin,” launch,” “load,” “resume,” “run,” and “tell.” (You can see the complete list, including the ways users interact with skills here.)
As you’re working on your skill, consider how a user will start interacting with it. A memorable pairing between a starting phrase and your invocation name can make all the difference. A user can say any of the starting words to start using your skill. By taking the time to consider and present a memorable example phrase, you can create one that sticks in their head and keeps them coming back to your skill.
With more than 30,000 skills in the Alexa Skills Store, we’ve learned a lot about what makes a skill great, and what you can do to create incredible voice experience for your customers. Download the complete guide about 10 Things Every Alexa Skill Should Do for more tips, code samples, and best practices.