Michiel Mulders

App Store Optimization – Why Design Matters To Grow Your App

Vested interest: Introducing AppFollow.io as a possible tool for optimizing App Store ranking. No further affiliation.
You might wonder why we are talking about App Store Optimization (ASO) on a web design blog? There is a good reason for that. Nowadays, users tend to use their phones more and more often to browse the internet. This means that websites have to adapt themselves to be mobile-friendly if not done so.
Many websites choose to build a progressive web app (PWA) as this works well for mobile, iPad, and web. Also, this gives them the benefit of uploading the PWA to major app stores. It is a great advantage as you can tap from a new potential source to get visitors to your website or service.
A PWA should fit all the different sizes of devices. Besides that, the major benefit of shipping your website as a PWA is that it works offline as well. All the assets of the app live locally on the user’s phone, this allows him to use the web app offline. It allows the user to use the app when he’s offline and push out the changes once the phone has an active internet connection.
This article will focus on creating greater visibility for your app through App Store Optimization. We will dive deeper into leveraging great design to draw in more visitors to your website and reach greater visibility. 

What is App Store Optimization and Why Does It Matter?

With over 2 million mobile apps in the major app stores, app store optimization helps you to get your app discovered. The higher your app ranks for certain keywords, the more visibility your app will receive. With more visibility, more users will likely install your application.
According to a survey by Forrester, 63% of the apps are still discovered through general browsing in an app store. Therefore, App Store Optimization definitely makes sense to make your app stand out in the App Store search results.
However, why does design matter to make your app stand out? It is important to create a nice first impression when the user looks at your app page in the App Store. The screenshots you provide need to stand out and catch the user’s attention. Let's talk about leveraging design to increase the install rate for our app.

Design Tips to Optimize App Store Visibility

When it comes to optimizing the overall look and feel of your App Store page, many elements come in to play. Let’s discuss a few of those elements like screenshots, overall design consistency, and the importance of a catchy app icon.

Tip #1 App Screenshots

StoreMaven reported that 60% of the users that visit your app page won’t swipe past the first two app screenshots. Therefore, your first two app screenshots should tell the user what to expect from the app but also catch his interest. 
Preferably, these screenshots should be simple and clean. Each screenshot should communicate a clear message. In fact, those screenshots don’t have to be actual screenshots of your app. You are free to modify the screenshot to make things stand out or add a small catchy text to the image reinforcing the message.
Let’s take a look at how Uber has modified its app screenshots to communicate the right message.
Case Study: Uber case
What can we learn from the below two app screenshots by Uber and how it tries to market their company slogan: ‘Know the cost before riding.’?
As you can see, Uber clearly modified its app screenshots. Basically, they created a screenshot/mock-up of their app and placed it on a nice black background that fits their company colours. 
The next thing we see is that they have highlighted and enlarged the input field that asks you where you want to go to. It clearly tells you that this app will provide you with a ride to wherever you want. On top of that, they added this text “Get an affordable ride” that enforces the message by convincing you that you can get anywhere for a low price.
The second screenshot displays a map with a route and the option to choose for an economy ride. Again, Uber tries to reinforce the message that it offers affordable rides.
At last, I want to show you what they did with their overview of app screenshots. 
Notice the story that’s hidden inside the different app screenshots when you scroll from left to right. It tells you the story of a young woman who had some drinks with friends and wants to get home without too much hassle. Therefore, she opens the Uber app to request an Uber ride. Within minutes, the Uber arrives right at the bar she’s sitting at. It displays the convenience of using Uber as a way of transportation.
Now, let’s move on to the next tip concerning design consistency!

Tip #2 Design Consistency

Many designers will know the power of consistency in design. It is also a powerful element for learnability. A consistent design allows a user to easily learn the interface and brings peace of mind compared with a chaotic design that uses different button shapes or colours. If you want to learn more about familiarity by consistency, read my previous blog about learnability in UX design.
To jump back to the Uber case study. We see that their brand colours (black and white) pop up all across their app screenshots and the app itself. It helps to create one whole experience.
Lastly, design consistency helps to keep your brand fresh and interesting. This is exactly what we want in order to captivate the user’s interest.

Tip #3 Design a Catchy App Icon

How to design a catchy app icon? The rule of thumb when it comes to app icon design is that you should keep things minimalistic
Let’s take a look at Todoist’s app icon design. The app markets itself as a reminder and to-do list app. Therefore, the app icon displays multiple checkmarks that indicate the completion of multiple tasks. It also signals that you can get things done more easily using Todoist. It’s a great example of simple but effective icon design.
As a conclusion of this section, resist the urge to decorate your icon design. Keep things simple. If you are still not sure how to design your app icon, this guide towards designing app icons should help you get started.

How To Speed Up App Store Optimization?

Of course, there is no clear path towards speeding up App Store Optimization. However, many elements besides design can influence your ranking in the App Store. The most important elements include: 
  • Title: Include a keyword in your title to be more visible in the search ranking.
  • Keywords: Every App Store provides the ability to submit keywords for your app. A lot of research goes into this as you want to find relevant keywords with low competition, just as SEO does.
  • Rating and reviews: Negative ratings are never good. Make sure to thoroughly test your app on different platforms before uploading to the App Store. In case you still receive negative reviews, try to address them and push out app updates.
Does this all feel a bit overwhelming to you? Or do you want better insights into your ASO process? 
Let me briefly introduce AppFollow.io. AppFollow is a great tool that helps you with App Store Optimization. The tool provides functionality to discover keyword popularity per country and language. Besides that, it offers many different analytics for tracking your ASO performance. This allows you to make changes to your App Store page and see how this influences your ASO performance.
Currently, AppFollow.io has introduced a new hot feature that allows app creators to monitor app reviews. It tracks, for example, how the app rating changes by fixing users’ problems. Besides that, app creators can respond directly to reviews from their favourite tool like Slack, Zendesk, or even Discord. As a bonus, the review gets automatically translated.
In short, the tool assists you with analyzing app reviews to expose core problems with the app and fix them in order to increase your App Store rating.

Final Resources

Here are some final resources to guide you towards App Store Optimization and preparing your PWA for the App Store.
I hope you enjoyed reading this piece and understand the need for increasing visibility through the App Store.

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