Can You Make an Alexa Skill Without Coding?
It may surprise you, but you absolutely can create and publish an Alexa Skill with no coding at all. In fact, all you need to do is choose a template, fill in a few form fields and your skill is created. Once created, it’s another button press, a few more form fields, and your skill is published in the store and is live for anyone to download and use on any Amazon Echo device.
Alexa blueprints let anyone make an Alexa skill in minutes, just by filling out a form. Read on to find out how.
Case study: Creating an Alexa Skill with Alexa Skill Blueprints
In the past, only developers were able to create Alexa skills, but Amazon has released Alexa Skill Blueprints. Blueprints is essentially a catalogue of templates that you can use to create a skill. Inside these templates are a few fields where you type in plain English what you want Alexa to say in response to a query.
These blueprints are quite simple, so you’ll be creating something along the lines of a skill that picks a random response from a list you type in, trivia answers, etc. But depending on the region you can even create fully interactive voice-based games and stories.
The Case Study: What my Alexa App Would Do
I have a passion for gaming, so it made sense for my first steps into Alexa Skills to be based on something related to that. This is an important point, that you’re going to want to choose something you’re knowledgeable about and as something relatively niche. This reduces your competition and gets more eyes on your skill.
Specifically, I was looking for a way to get Alexa to suggest a random PlayStation Plus Premium or Extra game from the games available in certain countries. This is a list of around 700 games which admittedly took a lot of “copy pasting”, so my advice would be to aim for around 100 items at the most.
Secondly, I wanted to give the user options, so when they started the skill, Alexa would ask if they wanted a game from everything, just PS5 games, just PS4 games, just PS3 games, etc.
Spoiler alert: All of the above was 100% possible with Alexa Blueprints, no coding whatsoever, and just filling in form fields!
The Finished (Published) Skills
Before we dive into how we created the skills, make sure you take a look at what we actually created. This will give you an idea of what it looks like in the store, and if you install it on your Echo device, you’ll get an idea of how it works and “feels” to an end user.
Step by Step: Creating the Alexa Skill Blueprints
The process to create your skill with Alexa Blueprints is incredibly easy. And let me just re-iterate this once more; you can create a fully functional Alexa Skill with no code and absolutely no programming, just by filling in forms.
Step 1: Signing Up to Alexa Skill Blueprints
Most countries have an Alexa Blueprints landing page. We suggest that you choose your own country to start with as that will be where you create your first skill. You will be able to create your skill in all countries but you will only be able to test the skill from your country’s Blueprint page.
Simply go to your country’s Blueprints link below and sign in with your Amazon account that is linked to your own Alexa device. This is very important as it allows you to test your skill on your Alexa device before you publish it for the world to use.
- Alexa Skill Blueprints UK
- Alexa Skill Blueprints USA
- Alexa Skill Blueprints Canada
- Alexa Skill Blueprints Australia/New Zealand
- Alexa Skill Blueprints France
- Alexa Skill Blueprints Germany
- Alexa Skill Blueprints Italy
- Alexa Skill Blueprints Spain
- Alexa Skill Blueprints India
In our case, we signed up with the UK landing page, which gave us access to publish skills in all of the countries mentioned above. We were prompted to fill in some “developer” details but this is really just your name info etc. that is already in your Amazon account. Don’t worry you won’t be doing any development or coding!
Step 2: Choosing Our Blueprint
Next, we needed to decide what skill blueprint to use.
Because our skill was to suggest a random PS+ game, and it needed to have support for adding categories (PS5, PS4, etc.), then the obvious choice was the blueprint “What to Do”. You can see a selection of options below, but depending on your country you will be able to choose from up to 50 different starting templates.
When choosing your own, remember that its functionality must suit your needs or your goals with the skill you want to create.
After clicking the template, you’ll be shown a small example. Clicking “Make Your Own” allows you to jump straight into the creation forms.
Step 3: Filling in the Options for the Skill
Straight away we were presented with a list of default categories and you can already see just how simple it is to make your own Alexa skill with no coding:
Next we just removed the defaults and added in our own categories:
- Everything (all games)
- Playstation 5
- Playstation 4
- Playstation 3
- Playstation 2
- Playstation 1
- Playstation Portable
For each category we filled in the list of games that we wanted Alexa to choose from at random, and speak out loud:
One important thing to note here is that the categories themselves are what the person using the skill will say. So try to make sure that they’re short, easy to pronounce words/phrases.
Step 4: Filling in the "Experience" for the Skill
Next up we chose how Alexa would greet us when the skill started. Then we gave some options of what she would say when presenting the random game name to us.
So, for our example after we start the skill, she would:
- Say “Welcome! Let me pick a random game for you.”
- Give you the options of categories you chose in the previous step.
- — You pick the category —
- Play the sound “Bell Timer 1”.
- Then say either “Here we go!” or “OK, let me pick”.
- Then say either “Looks like it’s…” or “I’m going to go with”.
- Then she will say a random game name from our list in the previous step.
- Then play the sound “Crowd Applause 1”
Then we also selected a colour at the bottom, which is the background colour for the skill when it is used on an Echo Show. This is a pretty cool feature as it allows you to visually brand your skill to an extent. On an Echo Show, the response from Alexa, in our case the random game name, is shown as text onscreen.
Step 5: Giving the Skill a Launch Phrase
Even though this step is called “Name” in the Blueprints wizard, it’s really the “launch phrase”. Don’t worry, this will not be the name that is shown in the Alexa store! This is what you will say to open the skill. This needs to be short, relatively unique, and easy to say. We went with the following:
Step 6: Creating & Testing the Skill
After clicking “create skill”, it does exactly that. Don’t be nervous, because at this point it will not be published. This creates a skill that only you can see and use.
This works great as it auto-installs your skill on the Alexa devices associated with the Amazon account you used to sign in with in step 1. It only takes about 2 minutes to be available on your device.
Then, just say your launch phrase from Step 4. In our case, we said “Alexa, open Random Plus Extra”. And lo and behold, it just worked. That’s it. We have a fully working Alexa skill! If at this point Alexa struggles to understand you when you choose your category, just pick a simpler word or phrase.
Step 7: Publishing the Skill
The scary part! Well not really, it’s just another form. Go back to the blueprints site, click your skill and then “Publish to Store”. Then, we just fill in details such as:
- Skill name in the store.
There is even a handy icon creator built right in, so you just select the icon from a set of images, choose colours, borders, etc. and it creates it for you:
Step 8: Wait
Then we just waited. It takes up to 72 hours for a skill to be approved and published the first time, but we found that it only took 24 hours. Be aware that no approvals or publishing will happen over the weekend.
After 24 hours our skill was available in the UK Alexa store, and could be installed just like any other skill!
After 24-72 hours your no code Alexa Skill will be available in the Amazon Alexa Skill Store!
Step 9: Repeat for Other Countries
The one downside to the no-code Alexa skill approach that we found is that you cannot simply launch it in multiple countries. So for us, after the above, it was available only in the UK store.
There is no way to duplicate it between stores, so you simply need to go back to step 1, choose another country’s blueprints page and create a duplicate skill by following the steps again. You just log in with your normal Amazon account, no need to create a new country specific account. It’s not ideal to have to do it all over again but you should get faster with each iteration!
Creating an Alexa Skill with no coding via blueprints is an incredibly straightforward and actually a very rewarding experience. You can knock up a skill in about 15 minutes and have it published for download by anyone after a 24 to 72 wait.
Having your very own skill published on the Alexa store could not be any easier. Now, you’re ready to monetize your Alexa skill!
Now Learn How to Monetize Your Alexa Skill!
Now you have your very own Alexa skill, find out how you can actually make some money with it. Easy steps to monetize your no-code Alexa skill.Make Money With Your Alexa Skill!
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