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Topic: Project management

App Store publishing and promotion

Daria Akhmerova, Project manager

The last tests are over, the icons are new and shiny and finally your app is waiting for it's first users. Usually this is the time when patience ends and you just want to fill in the publication form for App Store and go home and get some sleep. Unfortunately, these dreams are far from fulfillment. Publishing an app is a final and crucial step of importance that must not be underestimated.

Publishing the app in store is no different from placing any other product on the market: name, screenshots, description, app icon — everything will affect the user's decision. And before that he has to somehow discover your app among others.

Reading between the official guidelines

Here's a summary of our App Store publication best practices. App Store Review Guidelines basics with comments.

Copyright ownership

Delete all the trademarks that you don't own from the screenshots, this includes Apple logo, brand-names iPad, iPhone. Never use any third party materials unless you have a written permission. Check the descriptions: iPad and IPAD are not the same thing. Avoid any comparison or even mention of your competitors app, and not a word about Google Play.

Name and icons

You must not include the version into the app name, this can be done afterwards. The name in the store and on the device should match in order to avoid confusion. This also applies to icons the big and the small one should look the same. To test the best icon you can start a facebook ad campaign and pick one with highest CTR.

Honesty

Description must say what the app does and what it doesn't. There could be features in te description that work different in the app along with "hidden" features, App Store moderators punish both. Any attemtps to manipulate or trick the user into something he/she doesn't want are forbiden and the punishment could be hard, you could even get banned from iOS Developer Program.

Rate 4+

Developers are free to rate their apps, but if you're going to the Top or editor’s pick, your icons must meet the 4+ requirements.

Revise the guidelines each time before publishing. This will help you save the time and in case your app doesn't pass the moderation process you'll be able to solve the problem much quicker. Checking out for new changes and updates after Apple major events like "Apple WorldWide Developers Conference" is also a good practice.

ASO and other features: in pursuite of organic installs

App Store Optimization (ASO) is quite similar to SEO, but has it's tricks and feats to learn.

Key words play much bigger role than amount of installs or patch release date.

If you're going to use a collocation try splitting it in two words and check how the search query will change. App Store search treats separate words and collocations differently, but you should make your own test in order to understand which one is better in your case.

App Store doesn't index descriptions, but Google does and it helps users to make their choice, so this might be counter intuitive, but don't use SEO techniks in description and make it as human and helpful, as possible. Today description is placed after screenshots so the worst thing you coulnd do is disappoint those who had scrolled down to it. Also kissmetrics.com shows the apps with a keyword in the title index 10,3% better.

Ok, now users can find your app, but what influences their decision to install it?

The icon

It's the first thing the user looks at, it should stand out among your competitors apps and it should be easy to find on the user’s device among other apps.

Keep it simple and remember the guidelines. It's hard to make it to Editors Pick or Top Apps, but the first thing user will see once you're there the icon, the name of the app, publisher's name and main category. Designing the right icon for the app should not be left for the last, it's a stand alone task for your product design team.

We recommend to check for more articles, pick those icons you find great or the ones your favourite apps have and try to form the criteria on which you can define if the icon is good or bad. Then you can apply these criteria to your own design.

Screenshots

Search querry delivers icon, name, developer's name, screenshot and app's rating. The best case scenario is screenshot showcasing the app's killer feature. Remember Apple's restrictions concerning copyright (including devices).

Always check the preview on different devices. This is how Alfa-bank mobile app looks from the iMac browser:

And here's the iPad and iPhone view:

Mobile screen is much smaller and most part of the info doesn't fit in, most installs are made directly from mobile, so it's crucial to optimise your content for the most type of devices.

Ask yourself, how much time do you spend in preview or reading description while browsing for the app? Now keep in mind that 80% of users spend less than a minnute scrolling through the apps.

Support screenshots with taglines

Take a tour to the Top apps and look at the screenshots, most of the gaming apps and almost every third app in other categories got additional text (some almost 30% of the original image), why? Don't forget that screenshot is not just a demonstration of the UI, it serves as an additional banner that advertises your app, engages your users into communication and showcases new features.

You may underestimate this effect, but remember, what seems obvious to you, is not that trivial for the user who will see the app for the very first time. This works even for small preview images.

Summary

Always refresh your understanding of the guidelines before publishing, don't be greedy and spend the time it takes to design a good icon, and make screenshots work for you.

The job is not done even after the app is published. You can use various tools to drive organic traffic to the app, optimize rating and get good reviews.

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