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April 09, 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.
As you’re building an Alexa skill, it can be tempting to think of all the ways your skill can help your customers. As an example, let’s say you wanted to build a new skill about Major League Baseball. There are plenty of things a user might want to know when using this skill. Here are a few use cases or things your user might want to find out with your skill:
Skills can be very adept at handling a variety of requests. However, voice-first experiences don’t have the luxury of a rich visual language to communicate a variety of actions or use cases for customers, so we need to make sure that a user can understand what the skill is capable of doing, and that the skill does what the user expects.
It’s important to remember that just because your skill can do something, that doesn’t mean that it necessarily should. This same practice can be seen across the mobile application landscape. There are many successful apps that focus on doing one thing really well, and over a longer period of time, they add more features that users are clamoring for.
Last year during baseball season I created a skill called Games Back. The sole purpose of this skill is to tell you how many games back from first place your favorite baseball team currently is. It doesn’t have live game scoring, and it doesn’t even tell you if your team won their last game. It only tells you the current standings for the team you requested. Eventually, I'll add features like player statistics and “favorites,” but only if there’s a demand for those features.
While this might be an extreme example of a skill that does only one thing really well, it illustrates the point. Carving out a specific place for your skill will also help you attract a passionate audience that cares about the problem you’re solving for them. In short, you don’t need to be everything to everyone with your skill. You should try to serve a specific purpose, and serve that purpose better than anyone else.
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.