Developing Alexa skills and voice apps is rather easy: many tools allow developers to quickly design and publish bots in just minutes. But while it’s easy to publish voice technology bots, it can be challenging to truly perfect them. Many voice app developers are prone to common Alexa skill mistakes, but thankfully these are easy to resolve. While developing Alexa skills, Google Home actions or other voice-based assistants, make sure you take the proper steps to avoid these common pitfalls.
Talking Too Much
Talking to a person who’s too chatty can be an exhausting experience, and the problem is no different with voice technology. One of the biggest voice app development mistakes is designing a bot who talks too much. When developing Alexa skills or other voice assistants, you’ll need to pay attention to two big things:
- The length of your responses
- The number of steps, on average, in a conversation
When responses or conversations become too lengthy, users will often become bored and frustrated. So, how can you avoid this most pernicious of app development mistakes? After tracking the number of conversation steps, look for areas of the conversation that can be streamlined and simplified. Next, revise your responses to be just a couple sentences maximum.
Designing for a Use Case that Doesn’t Work for Voice
Not every task is helped by voice technology. Before developing Alexa skills, make sure your use case makes sense for voice. Many tasks are complicated or require visuals to accomplish smoothly; for example, booking a hotel room often requires comparing amenities, room features, proximity to attractions and photos before deciding.
To avoid app development mistakes like this, consider whether your use case can be solved through just a few conversational exchanges. Alternatively, you might consider making a hybrid app that uses voice technology paired with another advice. To continue our hotel booking example, you can let users immediately find options via voice, then push detailed results to their email inbox or a mobile app.
Not Informing Your Users on What They Can Do
Another of the most common voice app development mistakes is failing to inform users what they can actually do with the app. New users won’t be immediately aware of what commands voice technology will recognize. It’s important, then, that your onboarding or user experience makes it clear what commands users should give throughout the conversation.
So, how to avoid this toughest of Alexa skill mistakes? If users seem to be avoiding certain features and phrases, revise your onboarding to include a tutorial that mentions them as example features. You should also include a variety of sample commands in your voice app description. Finally, consider leading the conversation by suggesting intents. For example, if a user asks for local restaurants in the area, your app might ask if they would like to book a table or place an order.
Not Testing Your App
Perhaps one of the most disastrous Alexa skill mistakes is not testing your voice app before publishing. While developing Alexa skills, be sure to take some time to beta test them. You should always test the conversation flow while designing new features, intents, and responses. Even if your conversation flow is smooth, you may encounter issues that the voice model has in recognizing intents. Use any beta testing tools available for your platform—for example, Amazon offers a beta testing feature for Alexa skills before you publish them.
Not Following Up with App Usage
As soon as you publish your voice app, you should follow up with conversational data. This helps you ensure your user experience is as smooth as possible right from the get-go. In addition to monitoring for outages or scaling issues, keeping a close eye on voice technology usage helps you immediately fix any bugs that might arise. You can also monitor to see which features users love and which they choose to avoid. With a good voice app analytics tool, you can track usage in real time to help you avoid app development mistakes.