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How to Make Your App Zig in a Market That Zags

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out!”

– Dr. Seuss

 

Say you were looking for a free note taking app (like I was recently) to help remember appointments and take notes at seminars. If you searched “note taking app” in the Google Play Store, you’d be greeted with the following results:

App Development

From the screenshot above there are apps from independent developers and reputable companies like Microsoft, Google and Evernote.

The million dollar question is: which one should you choose? Factors you might take into consideration could be the app’s rating, app icon, features, description or screenshots.

The app market is like a lolly shop. There are so many choices and so much variety, it’s overwhelming and competitive. Similarly, when you publish an app on the market you’ll be up against other apps vying for the attention of app users. The aim is to rise above competitors by standing out amongst the other apps in the market through grabbing the user’s attention.

 

How can my app stand out in the market?

 

1. Create unique and disruptive ideas

To stand out in the market you’ll need to either create an app that either solves a new or existing problem in a more innovative way.

For instance, Uber helped solve the problem for commuters who wanted to catch a taxi at a reasonable price. It also allowed riders to pay by credit card and track the location of their ride.

An example of innovating an existing problem would be the app Parachute (formerly known as Witness). It’s a personal emergency app that allows user to alert family and friends if in danger. While there are many similar apps in the market, the innovative feature is the ability for users to live stream the user’s location and camera to contacts.

A starting point of finding a need is through doing research on the target market of the app. If you’re looking to capitalise on an existing need, look at competitors in your app category and think of ways to be more innovative.

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Parachute lets users live stream their location to family and friends.

 

2. Create visually appealing Screenshots and Graphics

A picture is worth a thousand words – This is the case with your app’s screenshots. In-app screenshots are one of the main factors which prospective users will assess in the app store. This is the case especially when prospective users are still confused over what the app does after reading the description.

Essentially, your screenshots should be like a movie trailer, showing off the most exciting sections of your app to grasp interest and a potential download. They should be high quality, visually appealing and also contain a caption or headline of the app’s main features and benefits.

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Trucker TV’s Optimised Screenshots. Source: Google Play Store

 

3. App Ratings

App ratings is one of the main determinants of whether a user downloads an app, as it dictates quality. Research from Apptentive found that 59% of people assess the app’s rating before downloading the app.

As a result, having a high rating increases your chances of potential users downloading and using your app.

Melbourne App Developer

Source: Apptentive

 

In addition, gaining positive reviews and stars in the app store will highly likely significantly increase your app download conversion rate.  For instance, Apptentive also found that jumping to a four star rating from a three star rating could bring an expected conversion rate of around 340%.

Finally, app ratings is a tool for continuous improvement for your app. Whether it’s changing the app’s UI and UX or launch times, feedback from app users will allow you to identify improvements needed and overall create a more smooth app.

 

4. Create a Great App Icon

People search for apps in 3 ways: searching by category, keyword or a specific app. Your app icon is your opportunity to create a great impression on the prospective user. In fact, it’s the first thing people will see when browsing through the app store. In a way the app icon should function like a brand logo.

When creating an app icon the main things to consider are colour, image, icon shape, borders.


We’ve previously written about how to create a great app icon. Basically, you should be aiming for an icon that is easily recognisable, simple and visually appealing.  

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From left to right: Spotify, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger

 

When creating the app icon avoid using words, keep it simple, use a border and only use your company logo if your brand is well known. You’ll probably notice that most of the apps on the market look very similar in terms of shape and colour, so if you’re stuck, check out icons from competitors.

 

5. Research Your Target Audience

Identifying your target market for your app is one of the key stages when formulating your app strategy. Every age group and demographic has different app usage behaviours.

For instance Blue Cloud Solutions found that that most smartphone users are aged between 25 – 34, who are parents or professionals.

By doing research, you’ll get an overall picture on aspects like app usage, behaviours, needs and preferences. Identifying these characteristics will give you ideas on what kind of app to create and features that appeal to them. Being innovative for the sake of it could cause confusion for the user when using the app.

 

6. Advertise on Multiple Channels

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Source: Think With Google

One of the myths of app store success is that the app store is the only place where apps are found. However, it isn’t effective to rely solely on app browsers discovering your app on the iTunes and Google Play.

To increase awareness and potential downloads, you’ll need to promote your app through additional channels. It can be through social media, paid advertising and even creating app landing pages.

You could even offer app users incentives for downloading the app like giving discounts, free in-app content or even creating a rewards program.

For instance, accommodation booking sites, like Hotels.com, offers lower prices of their rooms if you download their app compared to browsing on their desktop site.

To determine where to advertise, you should identify where your target audience are most accessible digitally. Research by Google found that the most effective mediums to drive app downloads is through search, video, banner and social ads.

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Source: Think With Google

 

7. App Store Description

After the app icon and screenshots, the app store description will be the third main area that app browsers will see. It is important to focus on how you write your description, as good copy could persuade users to download your app.  

The description should start off with the most crucial information about your app. This is because the app store only shows a few sentences of the description, while hiding the additional text under the “Read More” icon. Here is a good example from One Minute Closer’s description:

melbourne app developers

As seen above, the introduction should contain a summary of your app’s Unique Selling Point (USP) and the main message. You can also add credibility by stating the high number of users or positive reviews from reputable sites.

The rest of the app description should contain information about the app’s features, benefits, a call to action and other apps you have developed. It’s also important to keep it free from any spelling or graphical errors and avoid lying as it could result in app deletion.

 

Why should your app fit in when it was built to stand out?

So here are the 7 tips for standing out in the app market. Just a final note: success doesn’t come easily, you’ll need to continue monitoring your app and trying to find ways to enhance your app activities.

Do you have any other tips for standing out in the marketplace? Have you managed to successfully stand out?

Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Want to increase your knowledge? Check out our most recent blogs for more insightful knowledge.

The Blueprint to Designing Your App Icon

As the visual anchor for your app, you need to nail the icon design at the beginning. In this post, we discuss the best practices to creating a memorable and unique icon that entices app store browsers to download your app.

Uber may only be 6 years old, but that didn’t stop the $85 billion company from recently rolling out a redesign for its entire brand. In doing so, Uber completely changed its highly recognisable monochrome U-shaped icon into something that looks like:

a) A backwards ‘C’

b) An evil Pac-Man

c) It’s forever updating

d) All of the above

So what was Uber’s rationale for the new icon design?

The square is meant to represent the bit — a nod to Uber’s technology. The colours and patterns being introduced to the branding represent the atom — the people and things that Uber transports and the places where it operates.” 

Travis Kalanik, CEO of Uber

That sounds kind of cool and interesting, but Uber’s previous icon had imprinted itself in the minds of budget-conscious travellers everywhere. So why would the transport unicorn completely drop its familiar ‘U’ for a non-distinct shape?

Armin Vit opines for Brand New: “Let’s assume that it’s a matter of being used to poking an app icon for the last six years and that we just need to get used to poking at this new one. Even then, it seems like this is an icon for something else altogether.”

Uber App Icon

Uber’s new icon eating it’s way through the transportation industry.

An app icon is the one, singular piece of graphic design that users will interact with first each time they see your product. A great app icon becomes synonymous with what the app enables users to do and how it makes them feel.

So you’ve validated your app concept and now need to design an identifiable and unique app icon. But what exactly makes a great app icon?

We’ve put together an essential guide to designing an app icon that screams ‘Install ME!’… Without the unnecessary redesign 6 years later.

Scalability – Big or Small, the Icon Needs to Look Good

Your icon is going to be shown on a variety of screens, and in a variety of sizes, so it’s important your creation maintains legibility. It needs to look good on the App Store, on Retina devices and even as a favicon for the app’s promotional website.

One Minute Closer App Icon

An app icon needs to work at multiple resolutions retaining the legibility of the concept across the range of sizes. Source: One Minute Closer

When designing your app icon, consider the following scaling tips from App Icon Template:

  • Design and test the icon in multiple contexts and sizes.
  • Think simple and focus on a single shape or element.
  • Your icon should retain its recognisability when scaled.

As for software applications that let you design with this scalability, we recommend the use of Adobe Photoshop. If this is your first attempt at creating an icon, working with a free Photoshop template from AppIconTemplate.com is probably the best approach.

Simplicity – Clearly Convey What Your App Does

You have a confined 57×57 pixel space for your app icon. This is the first thing that browsers see when searching on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Do these potential users a favour by having your icon clearly convey what your app does.

You can’t always rely on users tapping your app to view it’s optimised screenshots on the preview page. Your icon should stand on it’s own.

App Analytics company App Annie provide the following rules of thumb to keeping your icon simple:

  • The most effective icons have a simple design and clear message.
  • Make sure the icon represents the core brand values of your app. This could be the app’s primary function, such as Gmail’s use of a letter or a gaming app using the main character.
  • The colours used in the icon should pop while still reflecting the in-app colour scheme.

Applying these rules of thumb will greatly assist in highlighting your app’s unique selling point.

Uniqueness – Stand Out in the Crowd

Let’s consider a user who downloads your app, closes their iPhone and then opens their menu screen later on. On a smartphone that’s already filled with apps, what is it about yours that is going to grab the user’s attention and stand out from the crowd? It’s an app icon that’s instantly recognisable and unique.

App Store Productivity Apps

It seems that uniqueness doesn’t enter the design process for Productivity apps. Source: idApostle

When attempting to create a unique icon, focus on a shape or object that stands out. Consider Snapchat’s ghost. The icon both sticks out and highlights the app’s unique selling point of ‘poof-it’s gone’ snaps.

Also consider choosing colours that contrast and pop, as this is often an overlooked way of positioning an app. Spotify does this well by pairing green with a starkly contrasting black. When a user browses the App Store for a music streaming service, these colour choices are what help Spotify stand out from competing apps.

Avoid Text – The App’s Name Often Accompanies the Icon

Words and images are separate representational tools. Combining them in what is supposed to be a visual representation often leads to a cluttered and unfocused experience that is difficult to decode. As such, you should avoid using copy or text in your app icon.

‘But this blog started with a Kanye-like rant about how Uber’s rebranding from a ‘U’ text icon to an unrecognisable shape was a mistake’, I hear you say.

Well first of all, I think we can all agree that this blog’s introduction made more sense than any rambling tweet from Kanye West.

Secondly, if you’re using a singe letter and validate it as a suitable fit, then the letter avoids being ‘wordy’ and becomes iconic by itself. However, this is more often the exception than the rule.

Your app’s name will be written next to the icon on the app stores and smartphone menu screens. Therefore, using text – especially if it’s your app’s name – is redundant.

Before designing your app icon…

An app’s icon is highly influential for standing out on the app store and engaging potential users with your product. Make sure that it’s scalable, simple, unique and visually conveys the app’s core value.

Along with the product strategy you plan to implement, nailing the icon design will put you on the right path towards a successful launch into the market.

Do you have any tools and tips for designing an app icon? We’d love to hear about them.

5 Reasons an App Startup Is the Shortest Route to Financial Freedom

The top 1 percent of wealthiest people in the world didn’t become rich trading time for money. And in light of this, it’s fairly logical to assume trading time for money won’t work for you either.

Financial freedom is only possible with a strategy and business model that is scalable. “How do I do that?” I hear you ask – welcome to the world of digital business.

Digital businesses have created a new economy that is accessible to everybody. They can be websites but at the bleeding edge of this global technological disruption trend are apps. Apps provide a vastly improved user experience in comparison to mobile websites. Coupled with the ability to take full advantage of smartphone functionality like GPS and push notifications, mobile websites don’t even stand a chance.

It’s the sheer size and explosive growth that has already changed our perception of the traditional way of doing business. Uber, Instagram, Airbnb and numerous other tech companies have completely redefined their respective industries and have practically overthrown their traditional brick-and-mortar counterparts.

What does this mean for you? Well, the advent of App Stores that allow third-party entrepreneurs to create new software experiences has in many ways levelled the playing field for entrepreneurs to compete with major corporations.

This is because apps have the unique ability to grow exponentially. They present endless possibilities to scale with a lot smaller investment then traditional business models of the past. Of course, creating the next revolutionary app isn’t going to be easy but it also doesn’t happen by chance. Check out our 5 Top Strategies to Get More App Downloads blog for a better understanding of what’s involved in getting downloads and creating a successful app business.

Moving on, here are the top 5 reasons why taking your energy to the App Store will help immeasurably grow your business (and wealth) and regain your long lost freedom.

1. Scalability and exponential growth

Regardless of what type of business or industry you are in, scalability is an essential for growing your business. Establishing a business model that includes an app is the shortest route to truly exponential growth and it’s possible with a shoe-string marketing budget. The most successful businesses today are rooted in highly scalable app business models – Uber, Google, Facebook, Snapchat – the list goes on.

An app startup provides all of the essential ingredients to create the perfect scalability formula. Some of the main ingredients that app development provides, among countless others, include:

  • Instant access to more than 2 billion potential customers (roughly one-third of consumers worldwide).
  • Low costs to build a world-class app in comparison to starting a traditional business.
  • Robust integration capabilities with social media and free access to the most sophisticated and user-friendly marketing platforms.
  • Overnight proof of concept with real time customer-feedback.
  • Drastic reduction in costs for all aspects of running your business.

Success and scalability are intertwined. Taking your business to the App Store lets you achieve the scalability necessary for your business to thrive by maximising output while minimising costs and time.

 

2. Time over money

App Startups are not in some parallel universe that is exempt from the laws of reality. This is quickly discovered by many self-proclaimed entrepreneurs that hire the cheapest freelancer to develop their app. Your app concept will not simply reach a million- or billion-dollar valuation just by being on the App Store.

However, building an app startup does provide certain shortcuts to those who leverage its benefits. By understanding and mastering these benefits, you will be able to drastically increase your business’ growth while scaling back the amount of time you spend in your business.

Once you design and launch your app, little additional time is required to run it because of the efficiencies and automation tools provided online. Virtual assistants have reduced your time commitments even further and for next-to-nothing prices. This gives you more time to focus on big-picture projects that take your app startup to the next level. It also allows you to live life on your terms, and focus on the things that keep you motivated and engaged.

 

3. Create raving fans and loyal advocates

The goal of business is to create raving fans and loyal advocates. They go out of their way to promote your product to anyone and everyone, not because you asked them but because they want to. This is the Holy Grail of marketing that you cannot put a price on. Creating a mobile app to attract these zealous supporters is paramount, and the quickest, surefire way to achieve exponential growth.

An app gives you the best opportunity to prove your credibility and authenticity. By showing your customers that you can consistently provide them value and deliver on your business’s promises, you can earn their support. Creating a personalised app experience allows you to shift your customer’s perspective from a one-time user to a lifelong raving fan and loyal advocate.

iPhone-6-Eaton-Centre

Apple’s loyal fanbase will (literally!) wait in line for their latest smartphones and tablets. Source: Mac Rumors

 

4. Maximise, not minimise, your time

It’s not about working hard, or working smarter, it’s about working right. App development has paved the way for this principle that has taken the entrepreneurial world by storm. In less than 24 hours you, as an entrepreneur, can think of an idea, create a minimum viable product or service, list the app product for sale online with a global customer base, receive instantaneous user-feedback, then modify and adjust your app startup based on that feedback! Efficiency at its finest.

Validating that your app idea works by attracting users and generating revenue is priority number one. Remember, your customers are marketing geniuses. They know exactly what they want and it is your job to find that out. Too many entrepreneurs begin with an idea for a app product that they think people want. They spend months, sometimes years, making sure the product and business are perfected without ever testing or even showing it to potential users! App development has given you the perfect platform to do just that.

 

5. Now is the perfect time

What are you waiting for? There will never be a perfect time to take action and develop an app. If you’re waiting for the right time, regret is guaranteed. Forget the naysayers and be decisive. I am telling you from experience that now is always the perfect time to chase your biggest ambitions. 

Your only one call away from a confidential discussion to evaluate your app idea. To find out how we can help you launch your app startup, give us a call on 1300 277 434 if you’re in Australia or email me at dane@launchpadapps.com.au if you’d prefer.

How many apps do you need to download before you create your own? Stop being a mobile consumer, and switch teams to be a producer first, and a consumer second. Those focused on building something bigger than themselves are the ones that produce results – they are changing the world, not just consuming it.

 

5 Top Strategies to Get More App Downloads

All app entrepreneurs want the same thing: to increase the number of people that download their app. Growth hacking should be one of everyone’s top priorities. So, what can you do to increase app downloads? In this post, we provide five strategies to app growth that inherently increases user retention and product success with the App Store market place.

We’ve all heard the naysayers complaining about how competitive the app market is today, and how you’re app is likely going to fail. However, you need to brush this negativity aside and continue to push forward with full momentum if you plan on being a successful entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that developing an app is easy – in reality far from it. But in my experiences, everything in life that’s truly rewarding requires hard work and determination, and creating your own app is definitely no exception. 

If you agree with the statement above you already have a head start on the mindset you’ll need to be successful. This will keep the passion alive and maintain your determination and willingness to do whatever it takes to see your app become as successful as possible when it hits the App Stores. 

If you were to come by my office tomorrow looking for advice on how to get enough downloads to propel your app into the ranks of Startup Success, I’d tell you six things. One, you’ve come to the right place! The next five things would be my 5 top strategies for increasing app downloads.

 

1. Use Smart Banners to convert Mobile Web Browsers to App Users

Mobile web remains very important for mobile apps. Developers use it to drive brand awareness and traffic on mobile devices in ways that apps (currently) can’t. There are two main ways that users end up on a mobile website: through organic search or a link.

On a mobile device, web search is one of the best ways to get discovered. Hopefully, when someone enters a query in Google (or Bing, ha!), your mobile site pops up. This is why it’s crucial you have a strong web presence with indexed content. Google will not automatically return your app content on search. Skip to step 4 for more on that.

If you receive organic traffic to your mobile website, it’s up to you to design an experience that will drive people to your app. The best method for this is a smart banner. As simple as this seems, smart banners continue to drive mobile downloads. According to Branch Metrics, an analysis of 12 million link clicks found that 15.5% of smart banners clicks resulted in an install. That’s actually pretty high in comparison to most channels.

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Click-to-install rate by channel.

The second way users find themselves on a mobile website is from a link click. Sometimes, the mobile web is used as an interstitial before a new user is routed to the App Store. In fact, compared to sending someone directly to the App Store after a link click, sending them to a mobile web splash with a View in the App call-to-action converts users 2 to 6 times better. Web banners work because of Cialdini’s principle of reciprocity. By giving users a preview, or a free sample, of the app content you want them to see, they are more inclined to give the app a try.

 

2. Provide a personalised App Onboarding experience

Onboarding continues to be a crucial step in converting valuable users. In summary, the App Store is a huge barrier to entry, but so is a generic welcome flow. By giving users a personalised experience, you provide them value right off the bat. 77% of mobile users downloaded an app in the past six months because of a recommendation from a friend or family.

Why not remind users that they came from a friend’s recommendation when they open the app for the first time? Gogobot did this by showing the name and profile picture of the referring user and saw a 78% lift in conversion to sign up.

Now, I know what you’re probably saying to yourself: “The title of this blog was about driving app downloads. Onboarding is after my users have already downloaded the app.”

But what good are app downloads if they don’t convert into active users? Spoiler alert: none. Well, except for maybe costing a lot of money and providing you with some vanity metrics.

tu225

You don’t need Condescending Wonka telling you how important user retention is.

The best-personalised welcomes rely on deep links to pass information through the App Store that you want to show a new user. The newest research shows that day-1, day-7, and day-30 retention rates double for users who come from a deep link.

 

3. Give Desktop Users direct access to your App

Links created from desktop via a text-yourself-the-app feature have the highest conversion to sign up rate compared to other deep linking features.

Let me explain why this is the case. If users have spent the time to enter their phone number, open a text, and click on a link, they’ve probably already made up their mind that they want the app. This is why we see an install rate of about 42% when it comes to text-me-the-app link clicks.

This is also why text-me-the-app is the default for branch link clicks on desktop. But how can we make this the default when so many apps are mobile-first and don’t have a website?

As mentioned in my 3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea post, we recommend creating a desktop landing page that is built seamlessly into the user experience provided by the app when you click ‘Download Now’. Instead of relying on the badges below to drive web traffic to your app, get potential users to enter their phone number to be texted a link to the App Store.

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App Store Badges on Desktop.

4. Make your App discoverable

App discovery is the hot new topic when it comes to driving downloads. Leading the charge are Apple and Google with their App Indexing and Spotlight Search.

Although these are still unproven channels for driving app downloads, you have two of the most valuable companies in the world, who also happen to control the app ecosystem, working hard to make app discovery a possibility. I’d bet on seeing some significant improvements in app discovery very soon.

Apple’s recent iOS 9 update allows developers to list content with CSSearchableItem and CSSearchableIndex (Before we get any further, make sure your iOS app is setup properly for deep linking… Done? Great!). Once you’ve done this 1) your app content can be listed on cloud and local search, 2) you can deep link directly from Spotlight Search results, and 3) you can start tracking clicks and downloads coming from Spotlight. Win-win-win.

For Google to properly index your app, you need to have a website with corresponding one-to-one mapping to the content in your app. Bit of a drainer, right? Before doing the ‘eye-roll, back-turn’ at Google, there is a solution that will host and configure your indexing tags automatically. Similar to Spotlight Search, this solution will allow you to list your app content, deep link from search results, and track and measure search results.

As I mentioned, these are still unproven channels, but indexing your app content now will definitely get you ahead of the competition.

 

5. Focus on valuable content

Too often I hear people say, “I want my app to be viral,” as if virality is a special feature you can simply switch on. Virality is a goal, not a choice. What entrepreneurs should be saying, or asking, is “why are some apps viral?”

Apps are most viral when they have good content. Good content is defined as content users think is worth sharing. The more your content is shared, the more users will download your app (assuming you build the sharing features for them to do so). It’s that easy.

Not only is it more shareable, but it will also become more discoverable, as app search engines will likely reward highly shared app content with higher search results. Creating good content is not an easy solution. It’s no get-rich-quick scheme (like App Store Optimisation), where you’re promised immediate results. It’s a solution for long-term success and discoverability.

We’re at a time when creating a mobile app is like creating a website before Google. Once app search and discovery becomes prominent, it will change the game for everyone.

Am I missing out on any strategies to getting more app downloads? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

Apple Wants YOU to Develop TV Apps

At their September Keynote event, Apple launched their fourth-generation Apple TV with a vague release date of October sometime. With a week to spare, it looks like Apple will squeak in their latest set-top box right before the end of the month.

Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at WSJD Live to announce that “the foundation of the future of TV” is available for order as of today and that shipping will begin by the end of this week (Friday, October 30).

As discussed in my ‘Are Apps The Future of TV?’ post, the biggest new feature of the Apple TV is its new App Store. So that you don’t turn on your new set-top box to be greeted with a barren App Store, Apple has just started accepting app and game submissions from its development community.

Apple has provided app developers, like us, with guidelines for supporting major Apple TV features and submitting tvOS apps. Now they’re calling out potential app entrepreneurs and startups, like YOU, to change the way we consume and connect with television.

So what do disruptive app developers and entrepreneurs need to know about the fourth-generation Apple TV?

In this post, we examine Apple’s next big product and how you, as an early adopter, can create apps that change the way we gather around our big screens.

 

What’s in the Box?

Made entirely from glossy and matte black plastics, the new Apple TV looks just like its two predecessors, only around 50% taller with two rear port changes. All audio has to go through HDMI and the previous micro-USB port has given way to a USB-C connector. As iFixit notes, a giant heat sink inside makes it noticeably heavier than before.

The new Apple TV will also be shipped with a new Siri Remote, which is black on top and silver on the bottom. To make scrolling quicker, Apple has replaced the prior four-direction navigation circle with a small matte glass surface that can be used for navigational swipe and gentler positing. Gyroscope/accelerometer sensors are hidden inside the remote for future games, and not user within the main Apple TV interface.

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The evolution of the Apple TV Remote.

Four new buttons have been added to enable the Siri Remote to control your TV’s volume, activate twin built-in microphones for Siri voice input, and quickly return to the Apple TV’s main menu. Apple has also included a multi-month rechargeable battery this time that can be refuelled with an included Lightning to USB cable.

 

What’s the new Software?

Apple has substantially redesigned the Apple TV’s user interface with an ambitious, visually appealing set of improvements. Everything’s been whitewashed with a brighter colour palette, text has been flipped to Apple’s new San Francisco font, and drop shadows have been added. Translucent panes introduced in iOS7 have made their way to tvOS, with even better results.

One big change that isn’t obvious from screenshots is speed: the new Apple TV lets you zip rather than plodding through menus, thanks in equal parts to a considerably beefier A8 processor and the more responsive Siri Remote. Additionally, app icons and cover art images now wiggle in 3D thanks to an Apple mandate that developers include 2-5 parallax layers to create depth.

Much of the new UI, including Apple-developer widgets like Weather and Stocks that aren’t represented by app icons, can be navigated using Siri voice commands. You have to hold down the Siri Remote’s microphone button while you speak to get Siri to “hear” and process whatever you say. This takes a little adjustment, but is better than killing the Siri Remote’s by having it endlessly listen for the words “Hey Siri” or, even worse, trolling questions like “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuckwood”

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Siri’s answer to the age-old-troll question. Source: MacRumors

By holding down the mic button, Siri can be activated in the middle of pretty much anything, including videos. You can use Siri for voice-controlled navigation, “What did they just say?” type inquires, and lookups of information related to whatever’s currently playing.

Along with the new UI and Siri Remote, the biggest new addition to Apple TV’s Software – well, for us app developers and entrepreneurs – is the soon to be opened App Store. More than likely, the set-top box will arrive with only a handful of Apple-developed apps pre-installed, leaving you to choose which third-party developed apps will be filling up your Home screen.

 

What To Expect From TV Apps and Games

The A8 processor inside the new Apple TV is one year and three generations old, which is to say that it’s already been surpassed in power by the iPhone 6s/6s Plus’s A9 and iPad Pro’s A9X. But with at least as much horsepower as these other Apple products, the Apple TV will be well-equipped to play new games, as well as thousands of games previously released on iOS devices, assuming that they’re updated to support the tvOS operating system.

Expect the graphics in 3D games to be roughly on par with consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with no shortage of ability to handle 2D games of any type.

One note of caution about tvOS games: for all of the set-top box’s incredible potential as a gaming platform, Apple continue to ignore requests from serious gamers regarding basic controller issues, such as allowing developers to offer games without support for the restrictive Siri Remote. It remains to be seen whether software and hardware decisions like this, which have upset many within the gaming community, kills the Apple TV’s ability to win over major game developers and their customers.

While apps are a lot easier to code than games, the Apple TV’s living room-focused interface hints that Apple’s not looking to see it turn into a cut-rate Mac. Basic widgets to extend the functionality of traditional TV features – watching sports, learning about the weather – will appear quickly, as will tvOS versions of Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu Plus and other channels.

However, don’t expect Apple to endorse creation apps, web browsers, or other Mac mainstays for the platform. Well, not yet, at least. Similarly, it will be interesting to see whether compromised apps with audio and/or one-way video calling take off in the absence of integrated FaceTime-caliber hardware.

 

Have An Idea for a TV App?

Even though prior versions of the Apple TV haven’t been mega-hits, the second- and third-generation models proved to be quite handy for everything from watching videos to occasionally putting FaceTime calls on the big screen.

I’m personally very excited about the fourth-generation Apple TV’s potential and think the next year will be a wild ride for early adopters. The first two or three months may be chaotic for developers and entrepreneurs as they rush to get hastily completed apps and games into the Apple TV App Store. In time though, the right kind of apps will change the way we experience television for the better.

What kind of apps would you like to see on a television platform? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

How To Optimise App Store Screenshots

To maximise your app’s conversion rate for the lowest possible user acquisition cost, it is crucial to understand how to optimise the sequence of screenshots on the App Store page. In this post, we examine those high-converting screenshots that drive more traffic to your app’s page and, in turn, lead to more app downloads.

According to research firm Forrester, 63% of apps are discovered through App Store searches. This makes App Store browsing the most used method for discovering and downloading apps. Consequently, if you’re not using App Store Optimisation (or ASO for short) to increase your app’s search ranking, you’re missing out on the largest discovery channel available to your app.

At its core, ASO is about increasing your organic installs by showcasing (or teasing) your app’s features quickly and succinctly. But to maximise your conversion rates for the lowest possible user acquisition cost, you must understand how to optimise the sequence of screenshots on your App Store pages.

Previously, we touched on how to pick the best ASO keywords for naming your app and designing your app’s Landing Page to draw in users and stand out once installed. In this post, we’ll go over what screenshots to place on your store page to convert views into installs, as well as the A/B testing you can do to optimise conversion rates.

So, without further ado, here’s how you find those high-converting screenshots to increase downloads on the App Store.

 

Making Screenshots that Showcase Your App

Whereas an icon might hint at your app’s quality and general utility, screenshots and videos paint a clear picture of what your app actually does. The best screenshots clarify your app’s unique value proposition and key selling points. How you demonstrate this, however, differs by app type.

Optimising For: Games

Angry Birds

Angry Birds 2 on iPhone shows off both gameplay and graphics. It doesn’t waste space showing how to launch a bird.

Games need screenshots that impress potential users with context about how fun the gameplay is as well as high-quality visual design. Angry Birds 2 is a great example that leads with its lively characters and physics-based gameplay, as established in the original Angry Birds. Adding key benefits at the top-left or bottom-right (e.g., “Multi-Stage Levels!”) is another best practice put in motion by Rovio’s designers.

Optimising For: Apps

CatchoftheDay

CatchOfTheDay on iOS tells a story to engage audiences.

For apps that aren’t games, we suggest showcasing screenshots that inform users how the app works. CatchOfTheDay is a perfect example. First, it hooks shoppers with the lead screenshot (beyond using Apple’s well-known brand and products, it also showcases being ‘Australia’s #1 Shopping Experience’). Then it proceeds to explain the shopping experience by visually outlining the main features the app provides to users.

 

Making Screenshots that Engage Users

Users are selective. You only have one to three seconds to get them to pay attention (Industry experts call this the “three-second rule”). There are several fundamentals to practice to convert the most installs.

Clumsy Ninja

Clumsy Ninja on Google Play leads with an entertaining video to engage Android users.

You’ll want to lead with at least one clear high-definition video. Keep it short and simple – ideally 15 to 30 seconds long. As a rule of thumb, your trailer’s duration should be less than half the time it takes to download the app itself on a 4G connection.

It’s even more important to leverage an app trailer on Android, as your lead video appears at the top of the Google Play store page. Clumsy Ninja does an excellent job of utilising this video top space with its engaging video.

For screenshots, always lead with the highest-converting image based on non-incentivised traffic. This may require some A/B testing, which we will cover later in this post.

 

How to Design a Great Screenshot

It’s very important to have concise and scalable screenshots, as users will be browsing on a range of devices including desktops, laptops, phones and tablets. File format is also a consideration — to get your screenshots onto Google Play and iOS App Store, they need to be saved as either JPEGs or PNGs.

If it’s your first time making App Store screenshots or you need assistance with your next project, you can use AppIconTemplate.com’s handy iOS and Android screenshot PSD templates.

One Minute Closer Apple iTunes

One Minute Closer on iPhone uses some text, while having a visual sense of hierarchy to explain the app’s core values. Source: iTunes

In general, text should be light and used to help frame the visuals. This translates to a font size around 65pts for the body and 100pts for the header. Overall, you’ll want to communicate visually and be supported by — not reliant on — text. Tinder employs this strategy by using text to enhance the visual message.

Screenshots should have a sense of hierarchy, displaying the app’s core features and unique selling points first. This way, the consumer can quickly grasp why your app is better than or different to competitors.

In the Tinder example, users quickly learn that the app shows local people, the ability to quickly like or pass and what happens when a match occurs. This helps it stand out against other dating apps.

Lastly, always make sure screenshots are consistent with the look and feel of the app UI/UX. Otherwise, users will become confused when they open your app and you’re likely to run into user retention problems.

 

Combining Design with A/B Testing

The quickest way to know you have the best screenshots and optimise conversion rates is through sequential A/B testing. However, how you execute this method differs by App Store:

  • Google Play – Android developers have it easy thanks to Google Experiments, which lets you set up tests and collect results within Google’s dashboards.
  • iOS App Store – For iPhone and iPad apps, we recommend using Facebook advertising campaigns prior to an app’s soft launch. The click-through rate for each screenshot will allow you to evaluate which ones drive traffic towards your app and, as a result, will lead to more downloads.

Based on you’re A/B test findings, you should optimise the order of your screenshots so the highest-converting one (among your target users) is first. Furthermore, you need to account for common behaviour across devices where your user views your store page. When they come across your page, they could be on their desktop, laptop, phone or tablet. To maximise your conversion rates, you must not only have the best set of screenshots, but also know the correct order to present them.

 

Key Takeaways

According to analytics firm App Annie, a 10% improvement in your conversion rate can lead to 10% more app installs or 10% less user acquisition to reach your target market. In short, optimising your screenshots will improve your user acquisition.

However, design principles and A/B testing methods differ between apps and Apps Stores, so be sure to keep our guide handy to help you through the process. In time, you’ll discover which screenshots are leading to the most downloads and, in turn, receive the fruits of your App Store Optimisation efforts.

Are there any ASO tools or resources with should be checking out? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Are Apps The Future of TV?

“The future of TV is apps,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook as he launched the fourth-generation Apple TV. But are we set to transform the way we consume and connect with television? We examine the latest Apple TV and its new App Store to find out.

During the much-anticipated September Keynote event, Apple showcased a host of revamped devices, including the iPhone 6S and an iPad Pro with a swanky smart keyboard accessory (A.K.A. Apple’s version of the Microsoft Surface Pro). But the show-stealing product was the fourth-generation Apple TV and the vision bestowed upon the new set-top box.

“It’s the golden age of television,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative. We believe the future of television is apps.”

To me, the word ‘provocative’ sticks out here. Will having a TV App Store challenge the channel-browsing habits that have defined the television experience for decades?

Short answer: Yes. Slightly longer answer: Yes – And it’s about time!

In 2007, the first generation Apple TV was released. A year later, the iPhone App Store was launched with only 500 apps. That number has grown to well over a million apps in just seven years.

Now that Apple TV will finally have an App Store, it’s where the iPhone was back in 2008: open to third-party apps.

The App Store has changed the world by encouraging app developers to create mobile experiences that transcended industry, entrepreneurship and international distribution boundaries. Will allowing developers to create apps for the Apple TV lead to a similar revolution in the channel-browsing experience?

To assess this question in detail, we have examined the latest Apple TV set-top box and its new App Store to find out if apps are set to transform the way we consume content and interact with television.

 

The New App Store

The long-awaited overhaul to Apple TV is centred on Apple’s vision that apps are the future of television. The biggest new feature of the Apple TV is its new App Store.

In conjunction with the launch of the tvOS Operating System, the newly built-in App Store allows Apple and third-party developers to expand Apple TV’s software ecosystem and widen its core functionality.

“When you experience TV in this way through an app, you realise how much better it can be. You can search for what you want, you can interact with it where and when you want.” – Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Apple TV Remote

Source: VentureBeat

As Chris Welch from The Verge notes, this is the next step in Apple’s attempt to own the living room. It arrives ahead of Apple’s own TV subscription service, expected to come sometime in the next year.

To achieve such an objective, you can understand why Apple has taken the same route that allowed them to capture the smartphone experience. The App Store for TV is almost identical to its iPhone equivalent. There are top charts and a single purchase of an app means you can install it across all your Apple devices. Apps even have continuity among devices that allows you to buy an app on your Apple TV and run it on your iPhone.

Apple launched the new App Store for TV by referring to it as “the golden age of television”. This may be a ‘provocative’ vision, but it’s unlikely to prove as disruptive to the TV industry as the iPod and iTunes proved to be to the music industry. When you consider the strikingly similar launch of the revolutionary iPhone App Store over seven years ago, Apple could just as easily referred to the new App Store for TV as “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

 

The New Siri Remote

The new Apple TV provides a ‘hands-on’ approach to interacting with television using Siri, Apple’s personal assistant technology. The new Siri touch remote allows viewers to shop, listen to music, and search using vague descriptions. E.g. ‘best movies from the ‘90s’ will see Siri searching in the box before displaying all the results.

Apple TV and Remote

Source: Daily Star

As seen above, the top of the remote features a touch surface for easier navigation. It maintains the simplicity accustomed to Apple products with just a few buttons — Menu, Airplay, Siri/Voice control, play/pause, and an option to adjust the volume. And to top it off, as you watch shows and movies, Siri can also provide current weather conditions or keep you updated on sports scores.

 

The New Gaming Platform

With new features, it is the remote’s game controller functionality that will change the way we interact with our TVs. The new tvOS Operating System means that game developers can new create gaming experiences that feature touch surface navigation and voice command functionality.

Apple has made games a primary selling point of its new Apple TV product. This is not surprising when many of the components necessary for an innovative game experience will come with the device. This includes the new Siri remote and an App Store to buy and download games. Furthermore, Apple already had unexpected success with Games being the top category of apps for both iPhone and iPad.

“I think Apple’s going to create a big new category in gaming, one that others have tried and failed to create before,” said Jan Dawson from technology research firm Jackdaw Research. “What the Apple TV has the potential to do is to bring casual gaming to the living room and make it a much more social activity.”

 

So what is the future of TV? Stay tuned…

The launch of the fourth-generation Apple TV could bring an innovative change to content consumption and interaction.

The App Store will allow developers to change what we can expect from the television experience. The Siri Remote will allow users to change how to navigate and interact with their big screen. The Gaming Platform will allow Apple to change casual gaming by bringing it to the living room TV.

These innovative changes are the future of Apple TV, but that doesn’t mean that apps are the future of TV.

The future of TV is the right kind of apps. Streaming apps likes Netflix and casual games like Crossy Road make sense as apps for TV. But would browsing Social Media or shopping on your TV provide a better user experience than your iPhone or computer? I don’t think so.

Note to the future of TV: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Do you think apps are the future of TV? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

The Most Popular iPhone and iPad Apps of All Time

With Apple’s much-anticipated keynote happening today, a list of the most popular iPhone and iPad Apps has been released. We take a look at the iOS App Store’s history and your favourite apps in the past five years.

Today Apple announced three things coming this spring: an updated Apple TV, a gigantic iPad and new iPhones. With the iOS9, it’s extraordinary to see how far the iPhone has come in less than a decade.

When the original iPhone was released in 2007, there was no App Store at all. In 2008, the App Store was first launched with only 500 apps. That number has grown to over a million apps that are creating mobile experiences, enriching and empowering our lives.

So what are the iOS Apps that have stood out from the crowd to top the App Store rankings?

The latest report from analytics firm App Annie have crowned the most popular iOS apps of all time. We review the top downloaded and grossing apps to see how they have become so widely used today.

 

Top Apps by Downloads

Top All-Time Worldwide Downloads

Facebook, Google and Apple dominate the list of the top 10 most-downloaded apps with 8 of the spots. Facebook alone claims 4 of the spots. Along with their main app coming in first, others on the list include Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Skype and Twitter are the only apps from other companies, coming in at fifth and ninth place, respectively.

So what do these rankings tell us about the iOS app market?

Well, they do reveal that even as iPhones are updated and operating systems evolve, user habits have not changed much in the past few years when it comes to our favourite apps. Although most of the apps featured in the top 10 are over 4 years old, they all continue to attract millions of downloads per month.

Also of note is that over half of the apps are based around strong social networking and sharing features. This should be no surprise when most users install social apps first after getting a new iPhone or iPad.

 

Top Apps by Revenue

Top All-Time Worldwide Revenue

When it comes to the apps that make the most money, the top 10 is a lot different from the All-Time Downloads, with Skype being the only one featured on both lists. However, the winners on this list seem quite logical considering that most of the top-grossing apps are entertainment and dating apps.

When compared to the top-downloaded apps, the top-grossing apps are represented by a much wider selection of companies, with LINE being the only one to claim multiple top 10 spots. As noted by The Cheat Sheet, Pandora Radio’s top ranking was driven by the US, which contributed practically all of it’s revenue.

At $9.99, Apple’s word processer Pages is the only app featured that generated revenue entirely from paid downloads. All the other apps on the list apply a variation of the freemium model. To find out more about the monetisation models you can apply to generate app income here.

 

Top Apps by Usage

Using the top 10 most-downloaded and highest-grossing lists, all of the most popular iOS apps were compared based on monthly active users (MAU).

Tops App by Usage

When it comes to app usage, many of the most downloaded and top revenue apps are also ranked in the top 10 by MAU. The exception here is China where, quite remarkably, none of the 19 apps in the download and revenue rankings are among the top 50 apps by MAU. This can be attributed to users in China having a strong preference for local apps that provide similar functionality to their global App Store counterparts.

 

Key Takeaways

Everyone has their personal favourite apps.  Then there are those universal ones that seem nearly required for every iPhone and iPad, e.g. Facebook. You might have guessed the most popular apps correctly or been close, just by looking at your phone.

Also note that apps with strong social and sharing features take up over half of the top 10 most-downloaded list. Referred as ‘The App Effect’, mobile users are looking for the next app experience that will change their lives. The most popular iPhone and iPad apps provide this.

So what are some of your favourite iOS apps? Let us know in the comments below.

 

3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea

All successful apps begin in the same way – as innovative ideas. To help you validate your app idea, we examine what you need to know, do and expect to determine the market demand and long-term viability of your app.

So you’ve got a great idea for the next app that is going to change the world. Most likely, you’ve browsed the App Store and seen there’s nothing else like your idea, so now you’re seriously considering joining the new wave of App Startups taking the shortest route to financial freedom.

But will your idea stand out from the crowd in the app market? How do you know whether there is a target market large enough that are looking for an app like yours?

Based on a small sample size of you and those you’ve mentioned your idea to, these are difficult questions to answer.

Before you start investing time, money, and effort into developing an app that others may or may not use, you need to spend the time upfront to validate your idea. Idea validation will help you focus your efforts on creating an app that people want to use and increase your chances of building a success app startup.

To help validate your idea, let’s examine the three steps to making sure that your app can attract users and generate revenue.

 

Research

Researching the size and shape of your market is a critical step in influencing the direction of your app idea. Is your target market broad enough to support an app funded by advertising? Or is it perhaps niche enough to generate word-of-mouth recommendations and community loyalty?

Seeking out similar apps is an easy way to start, but we
 don’t necessarily need to identify existing competitors to prove that we’re building something that people want. If we can’t find competitors, we can alternatively look for people blogging about problems that the app idea solves, or discover if people search for topics related to the app. Luckily for us, there are more research tools and data sources freely available to do such research than ever before.

In a previous blog about naming your app, I discussed how more apps are discovered through the App Store’s keyword based search engine than any other discovery method. When it comes to validating your app idea, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to find the audience who is seeking a product like your app idea.

Type in words associated with your app idea, like the problem you are trying to solve, the benefits your app will provide or other terms associated with your concept. You can also use App Store Optimisation tools like Search Man or Sensor Tower to help find the right keywords for your app. The keywords can then be optimised based on search locations to see the average number of local and global monthly Google searches. This is a good indicator of market demand and, in turn, the validity of your app idea.

 

Minimum Viable Product

It’s tempting to include every feature that your potential users could possibly want as part of your app idea. This would appear to maximise the app/market fit and, in turn, the chance of market success. But there are three main problems with this ‘all-in’ approach:

  1. It’s possible to include ‘too many’ As the number of features increases it becomes more difficult to build a usable product, and the result is often a confusing interface through which the user cannot navigate even simplest functions.
  1. The market potential of your current list of features is anybody’s guess. You have yet to test all these features with real users, so would you really want to risk excessive development time for features that may be unwanted?
  1. It’s not practical and doesn’t make good business sense. Even if you can afford to do so, there’s no point delaying the launch of your app by months and investing thousands more dollars if you can launch earlier and still achieve success.

The challenge is to determine which features are required for launch and which can wait for later updates. At this idea stage, you need to build the minimum viable product (MVP). The idea here is create an app prototype that has just the required features that address the problem you are trying to solve or demonstrates the core value of your product.

The MVP can then be shared with early adopters to see their response. Are people excited to use it? Are their needs or problems resolved by using the app? Is it easy to use? Note this feedback and revise the app.

I should reiterate: Building an MVP is not the same as creating the best app product. Your app idea is not yet at the ‘sweet spot’ where the minimum features satisfy the maximum number of users.

MVP

The minimum viable product has fewer features than an app at the sweet spot.

The MVP is a much earlier product than this ‘sweet spot’. It’s the minimum product that can be presented to the market in order to attract some paying app users and to validate the research about what they want. Market research gives us a good idea of how to achieve the MVP, while the MVP enhances our findings and takes us to the next stage.

So how do you go about building the MVP?

Use your existing research

Your research into similar existing apps and target market trends provides the best foundation for feature prioritisation. You should have a good understanding of what really matters
 to your potential users: their principal needs and motivations, and their relative importance. If you researched the App Store and Google Keywords, the features that appear most frequently should come higher on the list.

Prototyping

A prototype MVP is something you can often build in a few days as an actual functioning stripped-down app with the core features offered. As part of Launchpad’s Idea Validation process, my go-to prototyping tool when creating the MVP for App Entrepreneurs is InVision. Not only does InVision allow you to transform your App Idea into a clickable, interactive Mobile prototype; it’s also free to use! Creating variations of the basic app interface on a prototyping tool like InVision will greatly assist you in identifying and prioritising the features that will maximise you app idea’s potential success.

VALIDATE-MY-IDEA!

Landing Page

Once you have researched your target market and conceptualised the MVP, you need to micro-test your app idea to validate it’s potential. You may not have an app yet, but you can still have potential users sign up for it by creating a landing page that describes the main benefits of your app, the key selling points and the core problem it solves.

A promotional landing page doesn’t take weeks to plan and develop. A simple teaser page can be created in less than a day and will deliver a number of tangible benefits:

  1. It allows you to market your brand and benefits, even if passively to begin with. If you decide to talk publicly about your future app concept, for example in social media post, you can refer the people to the teaser URL.
  1. Search engines will be able to index your domain. It can take weeks for a new domain name/website to appear in some search engines, so an early teaser page can start this process while the app is developed. Furthermore, if the page looks beautiful and the app sounds appealing, people will link to you from their websites, which is great news for the app’s future search engine rankings.
  1. The teaser site can help you build a database of interested potential users. These people can be notified when the app is launched, which guarantees you some initial interest and early feedback. If they have granted you permission, you can also survey them during the application development, perhaps to ask whether a particular feature would be valuable to them.

To create your landing page, use platforms like Launchrock or KickoffLabs. Both platforms allow you to easily make a free website and email collector. Furthermore, they provide built-in analytics to include as part of your landing page. So pick a template, add content about your app idea and start sharing the URL.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.49.24 pm

The landing page for Cleaver & Co. Hair’s Web App. Source: Cleaver & Co. Hair

Once your landing page is ready, you need to start sending traffic to it. There are a number of free options to gain visibility for your landing page, like posting your app to applicable subreddits, sharing on social media, and contacting blogs and websites related to your idea.

There are also paid options that you can use to get exposure for your idea early in the process. A small ad campaign through Facebook Marketing or Google Adwords provides an affordable option to present your app to a wide audience of early adopters that may be in your target market.

Across all the promotional options for your landing page, be sure to focus on collecting the email address of visitors. This will allow you to engage with potential users throughout the full app development process and let them know when the app launches.

 

Before validating your app idea…

By applying these three steps, you will have a much more successful app upon release than you would have if you hadn’t validated your idea.

You will know the market demand for your app. You will know the features to include in your app. And most importantly, you will know that there is an audience waiting to download your app.

What other tips do you have for app validation? Let us know in the comments below.

Rocket Icon

A 3 Step Guide to Naming Your App

You’ve come up with a groundbreaking idea for an app and this has prompted the question: What should it be named?  

The name you choose for your app can feel like an emotional decision. After all, the very essence of the word ‘name’ tells a story of self-identity and individualism. So you’ve passed it by some friends and have been unpleasantly surprised with their lack of enthusiasm. That’s when you discover that maybe it’s not all that simple.

In my experience as a Melbourne app developer, I’ve seen too many entrepreneurs overlook one of the most important facets of an app’s product strategy – choosing an optimal, descriptive and unique name.

Unlike many traditional businesses and products, app software is bound by market influences and restrictions unique to the digital world. The right name has the potential to help propel your app to App Store stardom. On the flip side, the wrong name may prevent your app from ever getting off the ground.

When it comes to naming your app, you can remove some of the uncertainty. Giving this task the attention it deserves will allow you to optimise the app’s market penetration and drive your target audience towards taking the first and most important step: Downloading your app.

Let’s explore three of the most important steps for how to name your app.

 

Leverage Keywords

Knowing what people are searching for will help you come up with a name that’s both meaningful and distinguishable. More apps are discovered through the App Store’s keyword based search engine than any other discovery method.

Your app’s name is the chief form of meta-data that influences its ranking in the App Store search results. To increase the visibility of your app and the traffic driven towards downloading it, I highly recommended including keywords in your title.

App Analytics Provider Tune found that having a keyword in your title improves your app’s search ranking for that keyword by over 10%.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should just stuff every keyword you can conjure up into your app’s name. Although you have a 255 character limit to utilise on the Apple App Store, you shouldn’t name your app ‘Free Pro Weather Tracker *INSERT MORE KEYWORDS* Mobile iPhone App’ for two reasons:

1) Because… Well, you just shouldn’t.

2) Because you should use the app’s name as an opportunity to insert contextually relevant keywords that will translate to more App Store downloads from your target market. A good rule of thumb is to include a maximum of three top target keywords in your app name.

Consider the high-ranking Gumtree Australia App. Its name on the App Store is ‘Gumtree Australia – Free Local Classifieds Ads’. This helps the app to rank second in the search results for each of the following keywords: ‘Australia’, ‘Local’ ‘Classifieds’ and ‘Ads’.

iPhone App Development Melbourne

The Gumtree Australia App on the Apple App Store. Source: iTunes

To help find the right keywords for your app, use tools like SearchMan and Sensor Tower. These tools allow you to review what keywords highly downloaded apps in your category are using and find new ones for App Store Optimisation.

 

Describe the App

An app name that’s as descriptive as possible makes it easier for potential users to find the app.

Research from Appbot Founder Stuart Hall suggests that the most common words featured in top charting apps include ‘Free’, ‘Pro’ and ‘Tracker’. Including illustrative terms and phrases in the first 30 characters of an app’s title will ensure that App Store browsers see them.

If you’re releasing the app on the Android platform, you need to consider how its name will affect search rankings in Google Play. Google only allows for 30 characters in a title, so including descriptive words at the beginning of the app name is crucial for Google Play search optimisation.

App Developers Australia

One Minute Closer’s title on both app stores features descriptive terms, including ‘FIFO’ and ‘App’. Source: One Minute Closer

Why do you want these words seen by App Store and Google Play browsers? I’m glad you presumably asked!

They convey what people desire when they look for any type of app. Let’s say that a browser knows that an app is the ‘Pro’ version with a ‘Tracker’ function just based on its name. If this is the type of app that the potential user is looking for, they are then eased towards downloading it.

Once downloaded, the beginning of your app’s name will directly influence user retention and engagement. 20% of apps in the market are only opened once, with a subsequent 11% being opened twice before being more than likely deleted from the user’s device. When someone downloads your app, the name should help them remember why they downloaded it and what the app does for them. This will maximise your app’s adoption rate and convert one time users into repeat consumers.

 

Workshop Names

With your keywords and descriptive terms identified, it’s time to put potential app names into action. When evaluating one or two word names, consider the following workshop ideas:

Attempt only two-syllable names.

Constraints are valuable when undertaking the creative process of naming an app. They help to avoid drifting towards irrelevant tangents and, in turn, the wrong name for your app.

Sticking to two syllables is the best constraint I have found. Not only does following this rule generally lead to a great name, but it is also proven to be the most memorable form of word composition for consumers. Brands that have applied this rule with great success include Google, Twitter and Tumblr.

Mix and match words together.

Consider your gathered keywords in terms of 1) their relevance to your app, 2) their memorability compared to similar apps, and 3) their sentimental benefit to users. Select the words that are relatable to each of these values and try putting them together.

A unique compound or portmanteau word can lead to a name that distinguishes your app from others on the App Store. When mixed and matched right, your app name can outline the key function/s of the product, as well as value for end users.

Examples

  • Snapchat – A compound of words that encompasses the app’s main features of sending photos and videos (Known as ‘Snaps’) and messaging friends (via the ‘Chat with…’ page).
  • Instagram – A portmanteau word that represents the app’s value (‘Instant’) and key function (‘Telegram’).

naming your app

Snapchat and Instagram had completely different project titles while in development. For both of these apps, the right name set the wheel in motion for user adoption, market success and multi-billion dollar offers from Facebook. So have a go at mixing and matching the keywords and descriptions you’ve discovered. And when doing so, consider this: would Snapchat be worth $19 billion today if it was still called Picaboo?

 

Before naming your app…

An app’s name is highly influential for app store optimisation and engaging potential users with the product. Research it. Describe it. Workshop it.

Along with the product strategy you plan to implement, getting the app name right should be your first step towards a successful launch into the market.

Do you have any tools and tips for naming an app? We’d love to hear about them.