Follow these best practices to get the most out of the App Store and increase your app’s potential for success. Learn how to effectively use the App Store to your advantage and learn some important dos and don’ts for managing your apps successfully. The App Store is a highly competitive, vibrant, and constantly evolving digital marketplace where success requires a thoughtful strategy and a desire to delight users.
Use the App Store to Your Advantage
To fully use the App Store, you want to make sure your app is easily discoverable. Take advantage of the tools provided in iTunes Connect to effectively manage your app to aid with discoverability. Do this by creating a powerful presentation for your app on the App Store using compelling metadata and by thinking globally.
One of the most important factors to a successful app is making sure that customers can find it on the App Store.
Your App Store presence is key to achieving downloads. Carefully choose your app name and category. Focus on all aspects of your presentation to potential users: most importantly after developing a great app is your app icon, screenshots, and description. Create a clear product definition that is thoughtful and succinct. Ensure your overall presentation reflects this definition. Present a professional and authentic tone in all communications.
Create compelling artwork. An important aspect to making your app stand out in the App Store is to have compelling artwork and screenshots that show your product in the best light. Users are immediately drawn to beautiful icons and screenshots that show the capability of the app. In fact, users of Apple apps expect gorgeous icons.
The App Store is editorially driven. Apps are chosen for promotion purely on the merits of the app. There is no advertising. Apple takes care to present apps that provide a great user experience, are designed for the platform, and present beautifully on and off the App Store.
The app market is evolving. Keep your finger on the pulse of the App Store by downloading and using apps everyday. Read reviews to learn what users care about. Research your competition and consider the best strategy for your app. Every app is unique, so many business models are successful across the categories on the App Store, including Free (completely), Premium (one-time payment), Freemium (free with In-App Purchase) and Paymium (paid with In-App Purchase). Price thoughtfully and offer a strong value proposition.
Think globally. The App Store is available in over 150 countries, so localize your app and metadata into local languages to attract downloads. Customers prefer to browse and shop in their native languages; be clear in your localized description which languages your binary supports. See “Appendix C: App Store Territories.”
Localize properly. When providing translations for your app description, app name, and keywords, localize professionally or not at all. Do not use online translators or translator widgets. Remember that bad translations, even though they may be funny, can do more harm than good. When you localize your app, put all of the localizations in a single binary. And last but not least, be aware of cultural sensitivities. Should you need assistance with translations, Apple recommends browsing the services of these third party localization vendors.
Elements on the App Store
Your app name is how users will search for your app. A name that is simple and easy to remember will yield more successful search results. Choose a descriptive app name that reflects what your app does and is distinct and appropriate. Keep app names as short and concise as possible.
Fewer than 25 characters is recommended for best presentation.
Pay particular attention to how app names appear when viewed on the App Store on iPhone/iPod touch and iPad.
Don’t append descriptive text to your app name. For example “My Weather - real-time radar, temperature, wind and cloud patterns” is too long. The app name is better as simply “My Weather”. Reserve descriptive text for your app description.
Ensure your app name does not violate the trademark or rights of a third party. For example “iPhone Sports News” would be inappropriate, because “iPhone” is an Apple trademark.
Most importantly, a customer should instantly associate the name and icon in the App Store with the name and app icon that installs on their devices after purchase or download.
If your app’s name in iTunes Connect is, for example, “Coraline’s Creative Cajun Cooking,” good choices for short names for devices might be CreativeCajun or CajunCooking or Coraline’s, because they directly evoke the long name—but not Good Eats, Louisiana, or Comfort Food, which do not.
For more information on preparing your icons for Mac apps, read iOS Human Interface Guidelines and OS X Human Interface Guidelines.
One important aspect of discoverability is the primary category you assign to your app. For users browsing the App Store, this is the category in which your app is listed. Make sure to carefully choose the category that best describes the main function of your app. All category submissions are reviewed by Apple.
The secondary category for apps is recommended to maximize the app’s discoverability on the App Store. Having your app appear in two categories is better than only one.
Keep your app icon iconic. The icon is the face of your app to users, so it must be memorable and present well at a small size. Memorable icons are clean and simple, showing only one visual. They are immediately recognizable and bring your app to mind.
To create great icons, follow these guidelines:
Make the icon appropriate for your app.
Create a simple icon that is consistent with the design of your app.
Make the icon legible (even at small sizes).
Don’t scale up images from smaller artwork.
Avoid using words in your icon.
Ensure small and large icons are consistent.
Don’t clutter your icons with free or sale messages.
Never include pricing information.
Don’t brand your icons with company logos; the space is too small to be effective and the additional images clutter the presentation of the main image.
Consider cultural sensitivities and use universal imagery.
Don’t be afraid to consult a professional graphic designer.
For overall design assistance, consult iOS Human Interface Guidelines or OS X Human Interface Guidelines.
When your icons appear in the App Store and on a device, rounded corners and shine are added automatically. For iOS apps, if you are confident in your own shine-adding abilities, you can turn off the automatic shine using the shine parameter (the
UIPrerenderedIcon key) within your submitted binary for the device home screen, the App Store, and the App Store on the device. (Be sure to correctly specify the desired shine to get the intended final results.) The shine parameter is not respected for Mac apps.
Shine Automatically Applied:
One of the most important elements to discoverability is your screenshots. Create compelling and visually stunning screenshots. Place the best screenshot first. Show the actual pixels of your app, using the full screen, without graphics or borders around the image. Focus on showing the app as users will experience when interacting with your app.
When creating screenshots to be posted to the App Store, follow these general guidelines:
Make sure the content is legible and appropriate.
Don’t place the screenshot inside an Apple device image.
Always remove the status bar from screenshots.
Use all five screenshots to tell the story of your app.
Don’t combine multiple app screens in the area designed for a single app screen.
Take screenshots on the target device (not on Simulator). To do this, hold down the Power button and press the Home button. The screenshot is saved to the Camera Roll.
Avoid overworking the screenshots with marketing messages and additional graphic treatments.
Only add minimal graphic overlays when it is necessary to explain the image.
Don’t forget to localize screenshots. Before taking the screenshots, set the iPhone or iPad language by going to Settings > General > International > Language.
Consider cultural sensibilities and restrictions.
The first screenshot will appear as a search result on the device App Store on iPhone and iPad.
Write a clear, concise, and informative app description. The first few lines are the most important area you have to describe your app. It’s your chance to make a great first impression. Focus on functionality and design of your app from a user viewpoint. Describe what makes your app special and specify what features separate your app from others.
To provide the best possible description:
Include a brief opening paragraph or two and a short bulleted list of main features.
Localize for international markets where appropriate.
Only include user reviews, accolades, or testimonials at the end, if at all.
The Marketing Description is not easily actionable. Don’t include lengthly URL’s or other call-to-action messaging.
Use line breaks and bullets to enhance legibility. Don’t add extra white space between text or lengthen your description unnecessarily.
Be aware of the App Store screen size and of what is visible when the description is showing.
Make sure these content areas are filled in properly:
Copyright Holder. Should read, for example, © 2013 Acme Inc. (The App Store adds the copyright symbol.)
Version Number. Use standard versioning practices (for example: 1.0 and 1.1). Do not include words such as build and version in your version number.
URLs and Emails. Make sure all support and marketing URLs are live before posting your app to the App Store.
End User License Agreement (EULA). The EULA must be consistent with the minimum iTunes terms and conditions. If you need the user to explicitly accept the agreement, do so from within your app.
When updating your app, complete the “What’s New” field thoroughly and thoughtfully. Add call-to-action messaging to encourage users to update. Present the changes in plain and authentic language rather than technical jargon. List items in order of importance.
Entering thoughtful and strategic keywords that pertain to your app will help your potential customers locate your app more easily when searching on the App Store. If you choose unique keywords, your app has a better chance of being specifically located relative to other apps when customers use that keyword in the App Store search field. Assigning extremely common keywords could lessen your chance of being located quickly.
When choosing a keyword, do not use competing app names or inappropriate words; all keyword submissions are reviewed by Apple.
Don’t include objectionable terms.
Don't include trademarked terms.
Don’t include company or product names.
Don’t include celebrity names.
Don’t include irrelevant terms, as this is a common rejection.
For example, this is how search results are presented on the App Store on iPhone and iPad:
Create a landing page for your app on your website. Provide additional information beyond what is included in your app metadata. For example, include an app trailer, more screenshots, testimonials, or industry accolades. Consider providing a downloadable media kit that includes high-resolution app icons and screenshots, your company logo, and marketing text describing your app.
Create a support system for your app on your website. Make it easy for users to contact you directly with app issues, feedback, and feature requests. In addition, consider including an in-app way for users to contact you.
To ensure flawless presentation, avoid links to blogs or pages with mostly dynamic content.
Additional Tools and Techniques
You can request up to 50 promo codes per approved version of your app in iTunes Connect. Create a plan to use these promotions, including seeding appropriate press and editorial contacts prior to release. Reach influencers with these codes who can create buzz and awareness for your app. Advise the press to publicize only when your app is actually available for customers to download to create actionable marketing.
For offline communications like print and TV, provide a simple way for users to find your app with an easy-to-remember App Store Short Link. The App Store automatically generates these URL’s for all apps and companies. See Creating easy-to-read short links to the App Store for your apps and company for more information.
Single App: AppStore.com/Keynote
All Apps: AppStore.com/Apple
Single App with Company Name: AppStore.com/Apple/Keynote
Smart App Banners
Safari’s Smart App Banner feature in iOS 6 provides a standardized method of promoting apps on the App Store from a website. These banners improve users’ browsing experience compared to other methods. Tapping the banner will take users directly to the app on the App Store. For more information, see the Safari Web Content Guide.
(iOS only) App Size
iOS apps can be as large as 2 GB, but the executable file cannot exceed 60MB. However, consider download times when determining your app’s size. Minimize the file’s size as much as possible, keeping in mind that there is a 50 MB limit for over-the-air downloads.
Abnormally large binary files are usually the result of storing data, such as images, inside the compiled binary itself, instead of as a resource inside your app bundle. If you are compiling an image or large dataset into your binary, it would be best to split this data out into a resource that is loaded dynamically by your app.
Be Prepared for Your App to be Featured by the App Store
If Apple chooses to feature your app, you will be contacted by the App Store team. It’s important to be ready by having high-quality, high-resolution artwork available. With the introduction of the Apple Retina Display and with the newly redesigned App Store, high-resolution art is now required for promotional pages.
Keep in mind that even though Apple might request artwork, there is never a guarantee on when or where a featuring opportunity may take place.
Here’s examples of apps being featured on the App Store.
When responding to an Apple request for artwork, you need to provide high-resolution images accompanied by scalable vector or high-resolution logos. These files will be used to create multiple assets for iPhone, iPad and desktop. Note that the art you submit may require changes based on the Apple review.
When submitting artwork to the App Store, make sure to include layered PSD files, with separate layers for characters/main images, title treatment, and background. The artwork should follow these guidelines:
Text or logos should appear in the center of the artwork, in the Text/Logo Safe Area.
The area around text or logos should not exceed the Minimum View of 994 pixels in width and in addition, should not exceed 400 pixels in height.
Artwork should not include any text or logos in the Tag Area, as this area is needed for iTunes-related tags. The Tag Area is part of the Minimum View and 200 pixels in height from bottom of the artwork.
Background artwork must be at least 3200 pixels in width and 600 pixels in height with a minimum resolution of 72 dpi, in the RGB color space, and in the PSD format.
Title treatment artwork must be 2004 pixels in width and 586 pixels in height with a minimum resolution of 72 dpi, in the PSD format.
Note that promotional artwork requests for Newsstand apps require additional cover art issue files, including your most current issue and a future issue, if possible. So be sure you have these uploaded these files for your app in iTunes Connect. Newsstand issue art for promotional placement must be 680 x 908 pixel, 72 dpi, high-resolution JPEG files.
Only submit artwork you can legally share.
Artwork cannot contain any of the following:
Pixelation, artifacts, high-contrast background art, blurry or hard crops (unless stylistic) or other style issues.
Any visual representation of iPhone, iPad, iPod, or any Apple hardware.
The words App Store, iTunes, or Apple Inc.
App Store logo, Apple logo, or the term Exclusive, without prior authorization from Apple.
References to the physical packaging.
References to any other retailers.
References to it being a digital product.
References to pricing, including Free, Reduced Price, Low Price, Available for $9.99, or For Promo Use.
References to illegal drugs, profanity, or violence.
Images or language that could be construed as racist, misogynist, or homophobic.
Imagery depicting sex, violence, gore, drugs, explicit language, or hate themes.
Nazi symbolism as restricted by the Strafgesetzbuch section 86a, if the content is visible in Germany (DE), Austria (AT), or Switzerland (CH).
Artwork that does not meet these guidelines or does not meet our presentation standards will not be used.
Tips for Managing Your Apps Successfully
Everything starts with a great app. Develop an app that takes advantage of everything the platform has to offer. Use technologies wisely and create intuitive UI to provide the best experience possible. Innovation is important but polish and user experience count even more.
Being first is not as important as being best. Control the release of your app using iTunes Connect. Build momentum for your app by aligning all 3rd-party marketing for the launch day. Stop communications until the app is live so that downloading the app activates all product messaging.
Do not reference specific prices in your app description, release notes, or icons and screenshots. Referencing a local currency can mislead customers in other App Store territories and cause confusion.
Provide plenty of time for the Apple Review process.
Do not upload a new version of your app while you still have a version in review. If you find a problem with the binary that is Waiting for Review or In Review, you can reject the binary by clicking the Reject Binary button and then upload a revised version of it.
Iterate and innovate. Listen to your customers, read reviews and respond with updates. Plan updates thoughtfully so that your app evolves over time. Space updates appropriately for the most impact with users.
© 2013 Apple Inc. All Rights Reserved. (Last updated: 2013-06-12)