Today, we’re getting deep into the biggest challenges facing designers and developers on the Alexa platform: being discovered and making money. And who better to take us through it, than one of the most experienced developers on the voice scene, Jo ‘the Oracle’ Jaquinta.

Speak to anyone who’s serious about voice first development and they’ll tell you the two biggest challenges facing the voice first world right now are skill discoverability and monetisation. Vasili Shynkarenka of Storyline mentioned it and so did Matt Hartman of Betaworks when they featured on the VUX World podcast previously.

However, we rarely hear stories from people who’ve tried everything they can to overcome these challenges. Until now.

In this episode, we’re joined by Dustin Coates as co-host and we’re speaking to Jo about his vast experience of designing and developing on the Amazon Alexa platform and how he’s approached tackling those two big challenges. We also discuss voice UX design techniques that Jo’s picked up along the way, as well as the tools and techniques he uses for developing skills.

This one is jam-packed with epic insights from someone who few know more than in this space right now, and includes discussion on a vast array of subjects including:

Discoverability:

  • The impact of advertising on increasing skill adoption
  • The effect of being featured in the Amazon Alexa newsletter
  • What Amazon can do to help skill discovery
  • How transferring between modalities can loose users

Monetisation:

  • The challenges of turning skill development into a business
  • The difference between Google’s and Amazon’s strategy
  • The two ways to make money from voice: the easy way and the hard way
  • Why a monetisation API shouldn’t be the focus for developers
  • Why Amazon Alexa developer payouts are bad for the voice environment

Design:

  • The challenges of designing for voice with a screen
  • How immersive audio games help the visually impaired
  • How Amazon could improve the UX for users by moving to a ‘streaming’ approach to voice
  • Why you shouldn’t be aiming for a ‘conversational’ experience
  • What is the method of Loci and how can it be used when designing for voice?

Development:

  • Fuzzy matching
  • Building and maintaining your own library and SDK
  • Cross platform development

Other gems include:

  • Structural problems with the Alexa platform
  • How company culture affects voice strategy
  • Why it’s not early days in voice
  • Alexa for business and privacy

Our Guest

Jo Jaquinta is a software developer with over 20 years’ experience. Jo started building skills on the Alexa platform a short time after it was released, has created a host of interesting skills and learned plenty along the way through pulling Alexa in all kinds of different directions. His knowledge, experience and plenty of lessons learned were all applied in building Jo’s most recent skill, the madly complex, 6 Swords.

Jo shares plenty of his voice design and development knowledge on his YouTube channel, which is full of engaging and interesting insights, and has put pen to paper to share his knowledge in the shape of two books on Alexa: How to Program Amazon Echo and Developing Amazon Alexa Games. He’s also active on the Alexa Slack channel, helping people solve their development problems and consulting on voice design and development.

What Jo doesn’t know about developing on Alexa isn’t worth knowing. His immense knowledge and vast experience in this area are pretty much unrivalled, which is why I refer to him as ‘the Oracle’.

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