App Store Optimization (ASO) (3/5): Graphics & Videos

Finally, the next part on App Store Optimization (ASO) arrived.

If you are new to this series, I recommend to start from the first article on App Store Optimization. If you don’t want to read that much, this article can still give you valuable information on its own.

Parts of this series on App Store Optimization are:
1. Keywords
2. Description

3. Icons
4. Graphics
5. Videos
6. Ratings
7. Installs
8. Users

While the last article covered Icons, we will stay in the design area for this one. This time, graphics and videos will be covered.

4. Graphics

First, when I say graphics I mean every image except the icon provided via the Android Market Developer Console. This includes the screenshots and the promotional graphic with which I will start.

Promotional Graphics
Promotional Graphics are the big graphics shown on top of your app’s screenshots and description in the Android Market. If you want to get featured, this graphic is required. So although it’s optinal in the developer console, you should always upload your promotional image. For an overview on how this graphic should look like, I recommend reading this post from the official Android Developers Blog.

The promotional graphic is 1024 * 500 pixels in size, so you have a lot of space you can fill. Still, your graphic should not be packed with huge text since it will be scaled down to different sizes. Let me demonstrate this by an example used on the Android Developers Blogpost mentioned above:

Big promotional graphic

Big promotional graphic

This is the size a promo graphic has on the Android Market website.

Scaled down promotional graphic

Scaled down promotional graphic

This is the same image scaled down to the size it would have on a small phone or in one of the smaller feature places in the Android Market app. When taking a look at the image, I think they could have used a different font type since the ‘U’ is not completely visible anymore when downscaled.

This scaling is the reason why your promotional image should be used to place a high resolution graphic that fits to your app. A big writing of your slogan or app’s name is also appropriate.
It is recommended to use colors other than black or white as a background to differenciate between your image and the Android Market’s design. Personally, I like those graphics that fit into the Markets own color scheme and float over to the description and screenshots, so I think this should be treated in the way you like best. Nonetheless, your background and foreground colors should have a good contrast so that your graphic can be captured by the viewer easily.
What you never should do is reuse content that is provided by the Android Market anyway. So don’t use screenshots, icons or your app’s description in your promotional graphic.

Screenshots should represent your app. When your app is not beautiful, then your screenshots aren’t. This leads to the biggest problem most developers have: They are experts in programming, but not in design or usability and are not able to write beautiful apps. When this is the case, there are two ways you can go, ideally you combine them.

The first way is to hire a designer, tell him what you need and implement that design. The second way is to implement a design on your own and do some Bambi tests. Bambi tests are done in this way: You look for someone of your potential target group that never tried your app, the Bambi. You give them a device with which they can try out your app without any advice. Don’t say a word, just let them try. Be careful about the way they use your app, about what’s intuitive to them and what’s not. Improve your app and look for another Bambi to test again. Ideally, you have a team consisting out of developers and designers and some hand full of potential Bambis. Remember: Once a Bambi-User tested your app, it will never be a Bambi-User for this app again.

The term Bambi test goes back to Mohammed El Batya, creator of the Pendel Panda timetable.

There are a lot of things you can study when it comes to app design and usability, but in the end your app has to be as useful and intuitive as possible to your users. Your screenshots should look exactly like your app does and represent the functionality your app provides. Whether you show ads that are used in your app on your screenshots depends in most cases on your taste. In some app stores, like the Amazon App Store, you won’t pass the approval procedure when you don’t.

To give you an overview on the improvements a designer can make to your app, here are the screenshots of the AL Voice Recorder before and after it was totaly redesigned:

Old design of the file browser of the AL Voice Recorder

Old design of the file browser of the AL Voice Recorder

Old design of the record screen of the AL Voice Recorder

Old design of the record screen of the AL Voice Recorder

New design of the file browser of the AL Voice Recorder

New design of the file browser of the AL Voice Recorder

New design of the record screen of the AL Voice Recorder

New design of the record screen of the AL Voice Recorder

Which one would you prefer to download?

5. Videos

While screenshots are a static representation of your app, you can show the flow, the effects and the ‘WOW!’ in your videos.
Videos should have a short and clear message that describes what your app is all about and why a user should download it. They should be short (not more then 1.5 to 2 minutes) and entertaining. Long and boring videos won’t be viewed until they are finished anyway. They should have sounds and show scenes of your application the most time. They should be clearly structured with a start (e. g. a logo fading in and out), a main part (your app) and an end (e. g. an invitation to download now, an URL or else). Since many cellphone users don’t enable sound, it’s good to show what you want to tell them in your visuals, for example as a fade-in text stating ‘the most innovative arcade game you ever played’.

Personally, I watch videos especially when an app is not free, so I get to know its flow. When apps are free, I just download them and try them out on my own.
Like the promotional graphics, videos are optional. Still, they are a way for you to get some more downloads and are perfect for sharing, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t make one.



I hope you liked this one. I’d love to hear your own thaughts and experiences with graphics and videos on the Android Market in the comments.

The new Android Market design: Essentials

The new Android Market is still arriving. Some things have changed, here’s what’s essential for app developers:

The new Android Market Design

The new Android Market Design

  1. No more Just In: The Just In tab always gave developers the change to boost their apps visibility for a short time. This is gone now. If you have an important update, publish it now, as long as some people still have the old version of the Android Market.
  2. Top Grossing, Top New, Trending: Instead, there are some new categories: Top Grossing shows the apps bringing in the most money over the last time. It’s interesting to see the rise of In-App Billing here as some of the apps listed are free. Top New Free amd Top new Paid shows the best performing newest apps. Trending shows the apps that are gaining big download numbers. All these new categories are already available on the web interface for a little while.
  3. New Featured Categories: The Market now comes with a Staff Choices and an Editor’s Choice category. While the latter is describet as “Here are some of the best apps on Android Market, as chosen by our staff.”, I don’t know what the difference is (yet).
  4. Promotion Videos: Your promotion videos are now also shown on the device (Got to make some videoss soon).
  5. Five lines of introduction text: That’s important for the way you structure your Description. You now have five instead of three lines to tell the user what your app is all about.
  6. Comments: Are now a mixture of old and new comments.
  7. Two apps in a row: As you can see on the screenshot, the Market now shows two apps instead of one in a row. This gives the user a faster overview over all the apps out there (I like it).
  8. Changed search algorithm: It seems that the search algorithm has changed again as some of my apps are now ranked quiet different.

I know, there are also books and movies now, but that’s not important for developers, especially when they are not living in the US (like me).

Some of you already knew this, but if you didn’t, I hope it was helpful. Please feel free to leave any comment you want, twitter, plusone or like it.

Four reasons why your app wont be successful

Many developers produce tons of apps but still don’t earn much money. Others publish one or two apps and earn thousands of dollars every month. Why is that? Why are so many apps unsuccessful? Here are four reasons:

1. Your idea sucks

    That’s obvious. If there is no need for your app, why should it be downloaded.

    2. Your implementation sucks

    That’s a common error and its characteristics vary widely. I did that many times so I know what I’m talking about. Implementation means everything the user notizes (user experience, UX). This includes visual design and technical realization. Or in other words: If your app looks like the Android Market in it’s first iteration, it’s going to be hard.

    The good news is: When your idea doesn’t suck but your implementation does, you can still change that.

    The first release of the Android Market looked terrible

    The first release of the Android Market looked terrible. If your app does too, you should change that.


    3. You are not promoting

    Many developers develop and after that, they develop again. That’s not enough. Someone has to do the marketing and promotion stuff and if there is no one else, you are that someone. Twitter, blog, facebook and talk in forums. There are 1035 blogs found on Technorati when searching for ‘Android’. E-mail all of them. Seriously? Seriously.

    4. You don’t keep trying

    You like your idea, your friends do and maybe even your girlfriend (or boyfriend) does. You are excited and can’t wait to get the first update on the developer console. There it comes: 200 downloads on the first day… not to bad, but it wont bring you the expected millions. The next day will sure be better. 20 downloads. Hm.. Next day: 18. One week later: Total of 300 downloads has been reached, $o,45 has been made. Well, you’ll better focus on an other promising project.

    While some apps are successful from the very beginning, most apps are not. Also Angry Birds was not. Once again: I’m totally serious on writing each of the 1035 blogs. Write 30-40 of them every day and you’ll be done in one month. You invested weeks on building your app, why stop when it’s finally done. I know, programming is fun, but getting great feedback of and contact to your users and future users is too.


    In order to have a really successful app you must

    • Have a good idea
    • Make a beautiful app that runs smooth and free of error
    • Promote and communicate a lot
    • Keep trying and have some discipline

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