Amazon Alexa Skill for CNBC

Designing and shipping of Alexa skill that enables the CNBC brand to connect with audiences in a new way.


The Challenge
Amazon Alexa and other voice assistants opened up a novel distribution channel for media content. Instead of relying solely on digital mediums such as websites and apps, media organizations could now reach audiences through voice commands.

The Solution

Amazon Alexa and other voice assistants opened up a novel distribution channel for media content. Instead of relying solely on digital mediums such as websites and apps, media organizations could now reach audiences through voice commands.

The Results
The CNBC Alexa skill was nominated for a Webby Award for Best App, Mobile, & Voice in Business and a Digiday Publishing Award for Best Use of Voice.



NBCUniversal Media, LLC is a major American multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate. It is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation and one of the world's largest and most diversified media companies.


My Role
Design Lead, Research Lead

Key Deliverables
User Research
Information Architecture
User Flows
Style Guide
Alpha, Beta Release

6 Months

Project Overview


Understanding the Ask
CNBC was invited by Amazon to be a launch partner for Amazon Alexa. As a flagship content provider, CNBC saw this as a chance to connect with consumers in a new way and sought to capitalize on this by creating a set of objectives for the product team.

• Develop Voice-Optimized Content: What content CNBC should create to leverage its brand into such features as news briefs, podcasts, audio versions of articles, and other on-demand content.

• Cross-Promotion Across Platforms: CNBC can use voice platforms as a means of cross-promoting their content across other platforms, such as social media, websites, and television.

• Leverage Personalized and Interactive Experiences: By taking advantage of the data collected from voice interactions, CNBC can offer more contextual experiences.

Problem Statement
How might the CNBC Alexa skill provide up-to-date financial news, providing tailored briefings to help users make smarter financial decisions quickly and conveniently?


By offering a personalized and concise financial news briefing through the CNBC Alexa skill, users will experience increased efficiency in staying informed about market trends, leading to higher engagement and user satisfaction with CNBC as a source of information.


Research & Synthesis

Before considering the conversational experience, our team identified the context of the opportunity by understanding the environment, user demographics, and technological constraints. We conducted 30 remote interviews to understand the potential value proposition and developed user archetypes. Further rounds of user studies were employed in the form of Wizard of Oz test and field intercepts  to observe user behavior and identify pain points.

Value Proposition
After synthesizing the research data, the team formulated a value proposition and defined the benefits the product could offer to the CNBC audience.

Hands-Free Control: Users can navigate the  platform, search for specific content, and adjust settings using voice commands.

Enhanced Accessibility: The voice interaction device makes the service more accessible to users with permanent or temporary disabilities.

News Briefings: Users can access daily news briefings covering a variety of financial topics, including stock market updates, economic reports, and corporate news.

Market Data: The skill provides users with market data, including stock prices, indexes, and other financial metrics.


Phase 1: Designing the VUI (Voice User Interface)
To start, we created an inventory of data-points that we defined earlier in the process and mapped them to use cases. We worked with a SME (subject matter expert) from Nuance Communications to understand the best practices for assembling dialogic flows.

Once we constructed a system of prompts and grammars for each datapoint, the product owner and I were able elaborate on variables, i.e company, datapoint, monetary value, verbs and timeframe and map them to 'utterances' what the user asked for  and how the skill responded which was called the 'intent.'

Example VUI Intent
User: How are the Markets doing?

CNBC Skill: As of the U.S. market close, the DOW was down 1.69 percent at 573 points, the NASDAQ Composite was down 2.31 percent at 306 points, and the S&P 500 was down 1.73 percent at 74.50 points. 

CNBC Skill: Anything else?

User: No.

CNBC Skill: Thanks for talking to CNBC

Once the dialog was constructed we needed to map this to a user flow. User flows are crucial in both user experience (UX) design and engineering, serving to clarify the user journey and ensure a seamless experience while also providing a blueprint for development.

Phase 2: Designing the GUI (Graphical User Interface)

Design Principles
To ensure coherence between the Voice User Interface (VUI) and the Graphical User Interface (GUI), design principles were established to harmonize the visual and auditory elements.

Align User Flows:  Ensure the voice and visual flows align so that users can smoothly transition between voice commands and screen interactions.

Parallel Structures: Design voice commands and visual elements in a way that follows similar paths and logical structures, creating a predictable experience.

Complementary Interactions: Voice Prompts and Visual Feedback: Use visual elements to confirm voice commands and provide additional context or choices to the user.

Simple Visual Design: Avoid cluttering the GUI with unnecessary elements that could confuse users transitioning from VUI interactions.

Switching Modalities: Allow users to switch between voice and visual interactions fluidly. For example, users might give a voice command and then use the screen to interact with the results.

Synchronized Responses: When the user issues a voice command, the GUI should update instantly to reflect the requested action.

Ex. VUI documentation for TTS (Text to Speech) response and accompanying GUI (graphic user interface) use cases


The initial designs were very simple due to technical constraints imposed by the Alexa platform's tech stack.

First Release

Once the constraints were clearly identified, the team worked around them to add more visual richness to the design.


Once the team secured the first release of the CNBC Alexa Skill for Echo Show, they went back to work on the second release after a new platform release by our partners at Amazon. Work was able to commence quickly as we already had an extensive design catalog of issues to draw from. Design deliverables had to be configured to ensure consistency and usability across two new form factors—Echo and OTT devices—each with its unique screen size, input method, and user interaction pattern.

Echo Spot

I handed off ADA compliant specs for all Echo Show devices

Echo Show

I handed off ADA compliant specs for all Echo Show devices

OTT Smart TV's

Ensured the core experience was as accessible as possible within the app.

What I Learned

Natural Language Understanding: Ensuring the skill can accurately interpret and account for user queries related to financial news.

Regulations: Adhering to industry regulations and terms of use regarding financial advice and information.

Both challenges necessitated extensive cross-team collaboration, involving product advocacy experts from Amazon, engineers, and internal compliance legal experts at CNBC.

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© 2024 Victor J. Gonzalez. Designed & coded by me.