Showcasing best-in-class App Store screenshots of your app is critical for App Store Optimization (ASO). Optimizing your App Store screenshots can significantly increase your conversion rates to generate more downloads of your app.
Apple allows you to display up to 10 screenshots on your product page on the App Store for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV, to show customers more of your app’s experience. This is intended to help developers attract new users by showing different features of their apps.
Here are some app store optimization best practices to guide your screenshot development:
Use Custom, High-Resolution Images
You will want to use custom images captured from your app’s UI to visually communicate your app’s user experience. Depending on the orientation of your screenshots, the first one to three images will appear in search results when no app preview is available, so make sure these highlights the essence of your app. Focus each subsequent screenshot on a main benefit or feature so that you fully convey your app’s value. If your app supports Dark Mode, consider including at least one screenshot that showcases what the experience looks like for users.
Demonstrate the Key Message in Your App Store Screenshots
People only stay on the app store page for seven seconds before they decide whether they download or ditch. This means you have a very limited time to grab people’s attention and persuade them to install your app. By clearly communicating your app’s key message in the first screenshot, users are more likely to stop and take your app offering into consideration.
Orient Screenshots to Portrait or Landscape
Choosing between portrait and landscape screenshots is a common app store optimization dilemma app marketers face. Stick to portrait orientation if possible, as such screenshots are easier to scan quickly and a user can see three screenshots without further scrolling. Although, landscape orientation holds leading positions in the gaming segment because gamers are used to horizontal screen orientation and it does not scare them away once encountered on the App Store.
However, to determine what orientation works best for your app, it is essential to A/B test different orientations along with other product page elements despite overall vertical screenshots dominance. You can check out our definitive guide to best practices on creative strategy and creative testing for inspiration.
In our guide, we deep dive into the key elements for creative testing, including testing variables like:
- Ad copy
- End/start cards
- Calls to action
- Use of animation/motion
- Text placement
- Logos and/or stickers
- New elements
- Old elements used in a new way
Keep App Screenshots Simple and Readable
Keep in mind that the screenshots will be displayed on small displays of mobile devices. Test on multiple devices and keep the text big enough so it is easy to read even without clicking on it. Use simple backgrounds and concise text – having too much information in the screenshots can be overwhelming for the visitors and decreases their willingness to install the app (i.e., lower conversion rates).
When Relevant, Localize Graphics in Your Screenshots
If your app or game is available in multiple languages and countries, localize the graphics of your screenshots to the local language. Localizing them can remove a language barrier and make it easier for users to understand the features of the app.
In addition to perfecting your app screenshots, there are other ways to optimize the performance of your App Store page, including:
Your app’s name plays a critical role in how users discover it on the App Store. Choose a simple, memorable name that is easy to spell and hints at what your app does. Be distinctive. Avoid names that use generic terms or are too like existing app names. An app name can be up to 30 characters long.
Icon Your app icon is one of the first elements of your app that users see, so it is essential to make a strong first impression that communicates your app’s quality and purpose. Work with a graphic designer to create an icon that is simple and recognizable. Try testing different options to determine which icon is the most recognizable and meaningful to your target audience. To ensure the icon is legible in all sizes, avoid adding unnecessary visual details.
Your app’s subtitle is intended to summarize your app in a concise phrase. Consider using this, rather than your app’s name, to explain the value of your app in greater detail. Avoid generic descriptions such as “world’s best app.” Instead, highlight features or typical uses of your app that resonate with your audience. You can update your subtitle when submitting a new version of your app to help you determine the subtitle that is most effective for engaging users. A subtitle can be up to 30 characters long and appears below your app’s name throughout the App Store.
An app preview demonstrates the features, functionality, and UI of your app in a short video that users watch directly on the App Store. Previews can be up to 30 seconds long and use footage captured on the device to show the experience of using your app. You can feature up to three app previews on your App Store and Mac App Store product pages and localize them for all available App Store languages. App previews autoplay with muted audio when users view your product page, so make sure the first few seconds of your video are visually compelling. App preview poster frames appear whenever videos do not autoplay.
Provide an engaging description that highlights the features and functionality of your app. The ideal description is a concise, informative paragraph followed by a shortlist of main features.
Let potential users know what makes your app unique and why they will love it. Communicate in the tone of your brand and use terminology your target audience will appreciate and understand. The first sentence of your description is the most important — this is what users can read without having to tap to read more.
Every word counts, so focus on your app’s unique features. If you choose to mention an accolade, we recommend putting it at the end of your description or as part of your promotional text. Do not add unnecessary keywords to your description to improve search results.
Also, avoid including specific prices in your app description. Pricing is already shown on the product page, and references within the description may not be accurate in all countries and regions. You can update your app’s description when you submit a new version of your app. If you want to share important updates more frequently, consider using your promotional text instead.
Your app’s promotional text appears at the top of the description and is up to 170 characters long. You can update the promotional text at any time without having to submit a new version of your app. Consider using this to share the latest news about your apps, such as limited-time sales or upcoming features.
Keywords help determine where your app displays in search results, so choose them carefully to ensure your app is easily discoverable. Choose keywords based on words you think your audience will use to find an app like yours. Be specific when describing your app’s features and functionality to help the search algorithm surface your app in relevant searches. Consider the trade-off between ranking well for less common terms versus ranking lower for popular terms. Popular, functional terms such as “jobs”, “text”, or “social” may drive a lot of traffic but are highly competitive in the rankings. Less common terms drive lower traffic but are less competitive. Keywords are limited to 100 characters total, with terms separated by commas and no spaces. (Note that you can use spaces to separate words within keyword phrases. For example, Property, House, Real Estate.)
Maximize the number of words that fit in this character limit by avoiding the following:
- Plurals of words that you have already included in a singular form.
- Names of categories or the word “app”
- Duplicate words
- Special characters — such as # or @ — unless they are part of your brand identity. Special characters do not carry extra weight when users search for your app.
Improper use of keywords is a common reason for App Store rejections. Do not use the following in your keywords:
- Unauthorized use of trademarked terms, celebrity names, and other protected words and phrases
- Terms that are not relevant to the app
- Competing app names
- Irrelevant, inappropriate, offensive, or objectionable terms
- In addition, keep in mind that promotional text does not affect your app’s search ranking so it should not be used to display keywords.
Users can view and start an in-app purchase from your product page. In-app purchases and subscriptions are shown in two separate sections on your product page, and you can showcase up to 20 total items across both sections. You can even choose the order in which to list them to help drive awareness for specific content. Each item has its own display name, promotional image, and description. In-app purchase names are limited to 30 characters and descriptions are limited to 45 characters, so be descriptive, accurate, and concise when highlighting their benefits.
In-app purchases can also appear in search results and be featured on the Today, Games, and Apps tabs. When users tap on an in-app purchase in these locations, they are taken to your product page where they can read your app’s description, view screenshots, and app previews, or start the in-app purchase. If they do not have your app installed on their device when they start the in-app purchase, they will be prompted to download or purchase the app to complete the transaction.
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When you update your app, you can use What’s New to communicate changes to users. This text appears on your product page and on the Updates tab. If you added a feature or fixed a bug based on feedback, use What’s New to let users know that you have listened to them. List new features, content, or functionality in order of importance, and add call-to-action messaging that gets users excited about the update.
Ratings and Reviews
Ratings and reviews influence how your app ranks in search and can encourage users to engage with your app from search results, so focus on providing a great app experience that motivates users to leave positive reviews. Individual ratings inform your app’s summary rating, which is displayed on your product page and in search results. This summary rating is specific to each territory on the App Store.
The SKStoreReviewController API lets you give users an easy way to provide feedback about your app. You can prompt for ratings up to three times in a 365-day period. Users will submit a rating through the standardized prompt and can write and submit a review without leaving the app. You can use App Store Connect to respond to customer reviews of your app to directly address their feedback, questions, and concerns. When you respond, the reviewer will be notified and will have the option to update their review. Reviews and responses can be updated at any time, but only the latest review and response for each user will display on your product page.
Categories on the App Store help users discover new apps to meet their needs. You can assign a primary and a secondary category to your app. The primary category is particularly important for discoverability. Because as it helps users find your app when browsing or filtering search results, and it determines in which tab your app appears on the App Store. Be sure to select the primary category that is most relevant. Choosing categories that are not relevant to your app may cause your app to be rejected when submitted for review. Consequently, this may decrease your app store optimization.
If your app is available in multiple languages, make sure to localize your app description, keywords, app previews, and screenshots. Do this for each of the markets in which you offer your app. You can also translate your app’s name and tailor your keywords to reflect the values of each market. Because your app might better resonate with the local audience.
App Store Optimization Conclusion
App Store screenshots require focused creative development, testing, and strategy to drive performance. If you are an acquisition manager, we recommend focusing on expanding your skills in these areas. Specifically, being able to distill and interpret A/B split testing data from your screenshot creatives. As a result, your team can deliver better creative and improve app store optimization.
Keep following us for updates on App Store Optimization (ASO) tools and techniques. In the meantime, check out our Definitive Guide To Creative Trends For Mobile Game Advertisers for more guidance and inspiration for your screenshot development.