Alexa Skills Workshop: Voice Design 101

“You’re perfectly on time for the voice revolution – now is the time to build your skillset.”

That’s according to Amazon Alexa’s tech evangelist Andrea Muttoni, key speaker for the Alexa Skills Workshops we recently held in Manchester and at Amazon’s head office in London.

The free, one-day workshops were run by us and Amazon to help developers master the basics in skill-building on the Alexa platform, so they had the confidence to start creating their own solutions after the session.

With Amazon currently holding over 70% of the market share for voice recognition, there are already well over 20,000 skills running on Alexa – as Andrea said, now is the time for people to build their own voice design skillset.

Why a “voice revolution”?

The idea for Alexa started with Star Trek, and the wish to make that famous command (“Computer, give me…”) a reality.

But voice recognition technology is more than a gimmick – it replicates a natural human action, opening up entirely new avenues for how we interact with technology.

While tapping into apps might seem like second nature now, the team working on Alexa argue that if a task takes three or more clicks to complete, it’s a good case for utilising voice.

It eliminates all unnecessary steps before we get to the task we wanted to perform in the first place.

It’s recent boom in popularity is thanks to the likes of Amazon, Google, Apple and IBM, who have advanced speech software to the degree that IoT can be implemented into a smart home with ease and simplicity.

We already know that the use of voice as a search function is growing; Google reported this year that 20% of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices were conducted via voice.

Accenture reported that 10% of millennials have already used voice-activated ordering, while 38% are willing to try it.

Key takeaways from the events

As you’d expect, there was a massive amount to be covered in a one day session. But our development team put the focus on the group remembering six key points:

  • Design your skill for people, not computers
  • Make the skill easy to invoke and memorable
  • Keep it brief and avoid too much choice for the user
  • Ask real people for their input – you’re more likely to get a variety of responses
  • Always check your skill with the Voice Simulator to hear how Alexa interprets your skill
  • Avoid repetition when building in responses – people like to hear variety, so this will become irritating over time

Start building

We’re running a Tech Lunch series around Alexa detailing why you should (or shouldn’t!) be considering a voice solution for your business.

Find the details here, and get in touch if you’d like us to come to your office to talk you through the Alexa platform.

We’ll also be hosting a series of events on voice over the next few weeks – keep your eyes peeled on here and our social media for more updates.