Is your experience or skill aligned with all design best practices and usage guidelines as outline in the Alexa Design Guide? How do you know you got it right? As you create an experience or skill, consider the following.
Overall customer experience
How will customers benefit?
Design experiences that make tasks faster and entertainment more enjoyable, increasing the likelihood that customers will be excited to try it and then use it again.
Make sure customers can find your skill
Offer a unique skill and skill name to keep your skill relevant and memorable.
Evaluate every interaction
Plan for every task and sequence that customers will interact with. Include task beginnings and endings, a main state for your experience, and account linking if applicable.
Be predictable, reliable, and consistent
Customers should be able to learn quickly how to use and interact with the experience you've created. Ensure your skill has consistent and predictable navigation, wayfinding, and menus. Also make sure the experience performs reliably, responds as expected, and is consistent with common controls such as built-in intents for basic commands.
Handle unexpected utterances gracefully
Ensure that follow-up questions make sense, feel natural, and help customers around the utterance that caused the error. Remember to offer re-prompts when necessary.
Never require global privacy changes
Never require a customer to disable global privacy or device settings to use your skill or experience. Always provide an alternate way to gather this information, such as asking the customer for a zip code.
End the session when you're done
Don't require additional confirmation to exit the experience, unless some information may be lost (such as with games). If there are no other options for a customer to take, ending the session is a graceful exit.
Watch customers use your experience
To help you understand what works and what doesn’t, observe customers who are unfamiliar with your experience or skill as they use a test version. Make adjustments as needed.
Be voice forward
A skill is a conversational, assistive, voice-forward experience and is not simply a series of menus or a voice-controlled user interface. Your experience should lead with voice, but can make use of touch for richer interactions. However, make sure your experience can be used across all device types, including those that are voice only.
Make your skill natural and conversational
Use everyday language and invite customers to say things to Alexa in the way they would usually speak. Alexa’s responses should stay true to her personality, and be in a natural, conversational tone. Vary responses and engage the customer by asking questions.
Don't tell customers how to speak
A customer shouldn't change their natural way of conversing just to interact with Alexa. Instead, design utterances around the way customers natural speak. Alexa should also speak naturally to customers, using contractions and avoiding technical jargon.
Ask direct questions
Never ask rhetorical or open-ended questions. Propose choices or actions customers can take, which help to guide the conversation. No more than 5 options should be offered at a time, due to the cognitive load placed on the customer.
Don't make Alexa overly verbose
Avoid responses that can't be read out in one or two breaths. Alexa doesn't read out lists, nor does she give step-by-step directions for technical support or companion apps.
Offer help and provide contextually relevant messaging
Every choice Alexa offers to a customer, especially as a question, should be contextually relevant to the current situation and experience. This is very important for help responses, error messages, and follow-up prompts. Be sure to add full support for the
Don't give Alexa a personality makeover
Alexa doesn't introduce herself as anyone else, pretend to be human, or refer to herself in the third person. She's not a brand ambassador, and she would never advertise or erode trust with customers. Alexa speaks in the active voice, for herself in the first person, and doesn't apologize excessively.
Keep it consistent
Make sure your experience is consistent with the overall Alexa platform, and uses appropriate and common controls such as built-in intents for basic commands.
Can you use the skill without a screen?
Interacting with Alexa is a voice-first experience, and many devices do not have screens, so make sure your experience can be used across all device types, including those that are voice-only.
Don't tell the customer what to do
Never tell a customer explicitly to look at or touch a screen. Visual elements are complementary to the voice experience. A customer can choose how they want to interact with Alexa in a multimodal world.
Never display private content
Always assume that all content will be consumed in a public, communal setting. Never display a customer's private or sensitive information without confirmation first.
Connect touch to voice selections
Always ensure that visual touch targets (buttons, lists, etc.) are tied to and can be selected by voice, in addition to touch, so that customers can use your skill completely hands-free. Remember though that not every voice command requires a related touch selection.
Interaction is clear and actionable
Interactive elements on the screen should appear to be interactive and produce predictable results when the customer engages. Make sure all buttons, and other selectable items, have clear selection states.
Don't require touch
Customers should be able to use your experience or skill completely hands-free, and should not be required to use touch to complete interactions or progress through a flow.
Design for near and far experiences
When designing the visual experience for your skill, consider where and how a customer may be using it, and the level of interaction required such as touch or interactive elements. Customers may engage with their device at different distances, such as casually glancing from across a room (5-7 ft) or sitting next to it (2 ft).
Style your text for readability
Choose font sizes and colors appropriately for the screen, viewing distance, and experience context. When necessary, truncate text in a way that is readable and predictable. Use typography to create an obvious and consistent content hierarchy.
Use appropriate imagery
Images should be used to enhance an experience and provide additional contextual information. Include images and icons that are universal, easily identifiable, and relate to the conversation. Avoid using regional-specific images unless appropriate. Use resolutions that will scale correctly for the device densities you’re targeting.
Add background images to enhance the visual experience
Background images should be used to add visual interest to your experience or skill, and not to convey primary information or messages to customers. To address accessibility and contrast ratios, use the scrim (or a black opacity layer) in combination with your background images when overlaying text.
Your skill experience should be designed so that it is available and delightful for every customer who wants to use it. Make sure the experience meets accessibility guidelines for the color and text high-contrast ratio (AA accessible, 4.5:1), and choose the appropriate font sizes for maximum readability. Also include closed captioning for videos when available.