Get Your Alexa Skill Certified – The First Time
Prior to being available for consumers to be able to add to their Alexa-enabled device, Alexa skills must undergo a thorough certification process. While the process is straightforward, understanding its vagaries is a skill all of its own. How can you get your Alexa skill ready for certification?
Prior to submission
Before you submit your skill for certification, you can take a few steps to maximize your chances of being approved on the first try. Check out the skill library to review the skills that are already there; these skills can show you which skills are most likely to be approved. After this step, you may need to tweak your skill before moving to the testing phase. Amazon offers a certification checklist to help you ensure that your Alexa skill is ready for prime time.
You must follow Amazon’s guidelines for Alexa skills, taking into consideration not only how the skill works, but also how it will impact users’ lives. This is why the first part of the checklist focuses on the content and how data is used, rather than simply the coding of the skill. The policy guidelines include a list of content standards that must be met; skills that violate these standards, such as those that include profanity, claims to treat health issues or promote any illegal actions, will be summarily rejected. Skills must also pass Amazon’s security checklist to ensure that user information is never at risk.
Next, you need to perform functional tests to show that your skill actually operates the way it is intended to. Test your voice interface and user experience to ensure that your skill uses the best dialogue and interactions for what you want to accomplish with your skill. (Tip: Amazon provides a beta testing tool that assists with testing). If your skill has a visual component, you will need to check that your screen-based interactions perform as expected and are just as intuitive as your voice interactions. Finally, you must walk through the steps to publish in the developer’s portal, which includes detailed information about the interaction phrases, as well as notes to the Amazon developers and compliance requirements.
The Amazon development team will respond to your submission in fewer than seven days. While you may have poured your heart into creating your skill, you should expect at least one rejection (about 65 percent of submitted skills are rejected on the first submission), which will arrive via email. This is actually a good thing – it highlights how serious Amazon is about developing high-quality skills for Alexa users. Rejections can give you additional insights into the voice-enabled skill development process, how the skill can be improved and even how Alexa users will be able to interact with your skill.
There are a number of common reasons skills are rejected. Other than the above-mentioned policies, typical reasons for rejection include issues with the invocation name, faulty interactions (for example, the Alexa user should be able to easily ask for help or stop using the skill) or failing to effectively manage the response stream. The best way to deal with rejection is to accept it, and then carefully review the reasons why the skill was rejected and correct them. Sometimes, it is not clear why a skill was rejected. Do your best to work through the highlighted trouble spots, and then test your skill again. After you are satisfied that the skill works well and you have addressed the Amazon team’s concerns, re-submit it for certification.
Persevere, revise and update
Getting your Alexa skill certified does take perseverance, but it is worthwhile because it allows your brand to enter into the Alexa library. The steps to certification improve your understanding of how to best develop a voice-enabled skill for the marketplace. However, certification is only the beginning of your journey. You must continue to monitor and maintain your skill after certification, tweaking it in order to address user concerns and adding novel functionality to keep the skill fresh and enticing to your current (and potential) user base. While the certification process can be challenging, the result is an improved, polished skill that can effectively promote your brand.