The Alexa Skills Challenge: Tech for Good is well underway with 25 days left to enter. Hundreds of developers have already registered to participate—we can’t wait to see the skills you’ve built that have a positive impact on the environment, your local community, and the world. You can learn more about the challenge here and submit your entry by September 17 to compete for $122,000 in prizes. You’ll also have a chance to direct a donation of $20,000 from Amazon to one of 11 nonprofit organizations.
To help you create the best possible skill and challenge submission, check out the following tips:
1. Build, Test, and Submit Early
Creating an engaging Alexa skill can take time. Consider this as you start building so you don't let time run out. Submit your skill early for certification to benefit from the opportunity to share your skill with friends and get feedback on the voice experience you've built. For more guidance on how to build a highly engaging skill, check out our guide on 10 Things Every Alexa Skill Should Do.
2. Read the Updated Judging Criteria
The goal is to create an experience that customers will use, is easy to understand, and (when all else fails) just works. Use the judging criteria (at the bottom of this page) to your advantage to make sure you focus on the right aspects of your skill.
3. Focus on Bonus Prize Categories
The challenge has two bonus prize categories to help you come up with ideas. If you are not sure what to build, choose a bonus prize category and use that to help you think about a customer problem you can solve with voice. You can learn more about the bonus prizes here.
4. Consider the Device Your Customer Will Use
With the launch of Echo Show and Echo Spot, customers now have access to Alexa-enabled devices with screens. Think about how your skill can benefit from a screen to deliver a more engaging voice-first experience. Check out these best practices for building voice-first experiences for Echo devices with screens, or read about how developers built the Best Skill Designed for Echo Show for the Alexa Skills Challenge: Kids.
5. Enrich Your Skill with Open-Source Data
You can use open-source data to make your skill responses more personalized or dynamic for your customer. For example, you could tell a customer how much they’ve helped local energy sustainability by turning off a single light! Adding customer specific descriptive statistics is a great way to help motivate an action.
You can also use data to prompt broader thinking from a single data source or by blending data from separate datasets. For example, you can use the USGS Earthquake Catalog API with Earth on AWS dataset to prove that the lizard people really are taking over the world. Surfacing information in unique ways can help your customers see a problem in a different light, make a decision, or expose opportunities that have yet to be addressed. You can take a look at lots of open-source data sets to use in your skill here. You can also check out this post to learn how to store and expose data dynamically through an Alexa skill at scale with AWS.
6. Use Advanced Voice Design Features
The most engaging Alexa skills are conversational. They are able to handle variations of conversation and move between topics and ideas fluidly. You can create more natural voice experiences using advanced skill-building features like dialog management and entity resolution.
For more tips, check out our on-demand webinar on Building Great Alexa Skills for Good. And don’t forget—while your Devpost entry must be submitted by September 17 at 5PM ET, you have until October 1 to get your skill through certification. Good luck everyone!
- Slack Channel: Join us on Slack to discuss ideas, search for teammates, and ask questions.
- Office Hours: Attend office hours on Twitch every Tuesday from 1-2PM PT to ask questions and get answers from the Alexa team.
- Developer Forum: Browse the Alexa Developer Forum or submit your own questions.