Follow these best practices to get the most out of the App Store and increase your app’s success. Learn how to best use the App Store to your advantage, be prepared with artwork if Apple chooses to feature your app, and know some important dos and don’ts for managing your apps successfully.
Use the App Store to Your Advantage
To fully use the App Store, you want to make sure make sure it is discovered easily there. In addition, make sure your artwork is compelling, have an effective app description, and think globally. All of these practices, described in this section, will go far to making your app a success.
One of the most important factors to a successful app is making sure that customers can find it on the App Store. Some key ways to have an app that is discoverable on the App Store are to have a name and icon that are easy for users to remember and consistent, have keywords that are well thought out and strategic, and have carefully chosen categories.
Simplify Your App Name
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.
For example, an app name like Touch Fighter will be easier for users to remember than a name like Touch Fighter V2, Touch Fighter Extreme Action, or iPhone Touch Fighter.
Make Your App Name and Icon Consistent
It’s important when customers look for your iOS app on their devices that they immediately recognize its icon and name, just as they appeared when the user downloaded your app from the store.
There are various creative ways to design your App Store icon so that it is similar to the icon that will be displayed on a user’s device. One technique is to present a close-up of a specific icon section. Whatever approach you take, make sure the small icon retains a very similar look to the large one.
Similarly, you should create a name for your app that will be consistent with what customers see on the App Store and how it appears on their device. If your app’s name in iTunes Connect is, for instance, “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.
The golden rule is simply that an end user should instantly associate the name and large icon in the App Store with the name and app icon on their devices.
Enter Strategic Keywords
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 versus 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.
Examples for Touch Fighter:
For example, for the Touch Fighter app, unique keywords like Flight, Galaxy, and Starship are more likely to make your app stand out than overly common keywords like Game, App, or Fun.
When choosing a keyword, do not use competing app names or inappropriate words; all keyword submissions are reviewed by Apple.
Choose Categories Carefully
Another important aspect of discoverability is the primary category you assign to your app. This is the category under which your app will be listed for users who are browsing. Make sure to carefully choose the category that best describes the main function of your app. All category submissions are reviewed by Apple.
You may also assign an optional secondary category. Apps are not listed under their secondary categories, but apps are returned as search results on that secondary category. For example, if your app is listed with a primary category of Finance and a secondary category of Business, users will see your app listed when they browse the Finance category and they will also see your app in their search results if they search for “business.”
Another aspect to making your app stand out in the 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. Here’s the one for Touch Fighter:
To create great icons, follow these guidelines:
For overall design assistance, consult iOS Human Interface Guidelines or OS X Human Interface Guidelines.
Don’t scale up images from smaller artwork.
Make the icon legible (even at small sizes).
Make the icon appropriate for your app.
Consider cultural sensitivities and use universal imagery.
Don’t be afraid to consult a professional graphic designer.
Also, remember that rounded corners and shine are added automatically. If you are confident in your own shine-adding abilities, for iOS apps you may add 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:
In addition to having great icons, make sure your screenshots show your product in the best light. Here’s an example of a screenshot for an iPhone app.
When creating screenshots to be posted to the App Store, follow these general guidelines:
Make sure the content is legible and appropriate.
Consider cultural sensibilities and restrictions.
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.
Use Xcode Organizer.
Always remove the status bar from screenshots.
Don’t forget to localize screenshots. Before taking the screenshots, set the iPhone language by going to Settings > General > International > Language.
An Effective App Description
In addition to having compelling artwork, make sure your app description is informative. When writing it, be aware of the App Store screen size and of what is visible above the fold.
Use line breaks and bullets to enhance legibility. Make sure these content areas are filled in properly:
Copyright Holder. Should read, for example, © 2008 Acme Inc. (Apple 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 providing translations for your app, localize the app description 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, put all of the localizations in a single binary. And last but not least, be aware of cultural sensitivities.
(iOS only) App Size Tips
iOS apps can be as large as 2 GB, but 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.
Be Prepared for Your App to be Featured by Apple
Apple contacts you if your app is to be featured. It’s important to be ready by having high-quality, high-resolution artwork available. Here’s an example of apps that Apple featured in iTunes.
And use promotional codes to further promote your app to the public. Providing potential customers with a code to download your app for free is a great way to promote a specific version of your app.
Have layered art on-hand, too, in case it is requested for the creation of promotional artwork. For example, here is layered art for promoting Touch Fighter:
For the title, use either a vector (EPS or
.ai) or a minimum 600 x 600 pixel TIF, PNG, or PSD with transparent background. For the background, use a minimum 600 x 600 pixel JPG, TIF, or PSD.
Here’s an example of a fully designed product page with a background image at 900 x 530 layered (PSD) format:
Dos and Don’ts for Managing Your Apps Successfully
Do not reference specific prices in your app description, release notes, and large or small icons or screenshots. Referencing a local currency can mislead customers in other App Store territories and cause confusion.
Do not place Sale banners on large or small icons or screenshots. Sale information should not be referenced in app names.
Do not upload another version of your app while you still have another version in review. If you find a problem with your 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.
Do not include the names of other apps in the description for your app or app keywords. Referencing other apps in your app description and keywords can be considered an attempt to fix search results and is not advised.
© 2013 Apple Inc. All Rights Reserved. (Last updated: 2013-04-23)