They say that a picture paints 1000 words. With this in mind, it’s clear that app store screenshots represent a real opportunity to promote your client’s app(s) and show potential users why the app you’re company is offering is exactly what they need.
Here are ten tips to ensure you make the best of app store screenshots:
1. Follow the store guidelines
Apple and Google both produce detailed guidelines for the use of screenshots in their stores. (Apple’s are here, and Google’s are here). It’s essential to follow these very carefully, including submitting screenshots for all relevant devices, otherwise you risk your screenshots looking pixelated and unprofessional.
2. Select screenshots intelligently
It’s really easy to just think of the five main things the app does and screenshot them, but this isn’t the way to maximise success. Your collection of app store screenshots are your opportunity to truly showcase your customer’s app and show why it’s worthy of the home screen and memory space on user’s devices.
3. Prioritize benefits over features
Following on from the above, as far as possible it’s best to stick to the tried and tested sales approach of concentrating less on specific features and more on how those features will help (or even improve the lives) of your target users.
For example, with a fitness app, you need to show how the features are desirable to users. There’s no point in simply saying that there are “100 workouts!” It’s better to show how those work outs are fun, how they provide variety, how they can be completed in a short time, and ultimately how they’re going to help in their aim of getting people fit. If your screenshots appear like a feature list without showing these benefits, you’ve probably chosen the wrong images.
4. Highlight new functionality as an app evolves
Once the app is established, it does make sense to use one or more screenshots to show off new features, especially those that users won’t find anywhere else. But again, always try to aim for an angle that highlights the point and benefit of these features.
5. Consider annotations
There’s no shortage of online debate as to whether people should annotate their app store screenshots. Some people think it’s a bad idea, but it’s fair to say plenty of highly successful apps do have screenshot annotations on their listings.
One scenario where this is a good idea is if you have a particularly minimalist or graphical app where it’s not immediately clear what it does.
If you do decide to use annotations, ensure they’re done well and are completely clear to users. Poor use of foreground and background colours, together with small screenshots, can make for a very messy look.
6. Consider “screenshot shrinking”
Screenshot shrinking is an alternative to annotation.
Instead of overlaying the screenshot with text or graphics, shrink the screenshot so it only uses some of the allowed space, and add supplementary text that describes functionality or tells the story of the app.
You’ll find this technique used to good effect on the iTunes Store listing for Flipboard.
Although, in theory, you could use a combination of screenshot shrinking and annotation in one screenshot, it’s almost impossible to imagine a situation where this would look anything less than confusing and cluttered.
7. Make use of localization
If you have localised your app for different language markets, you can include additional screenshots for other stores (the exact rules depend on the store).
It definitely makes sense to do this. If you’ve made the effort, for example, to translate your app into French, then French customers should see the French app version.
8. Think about how to order your screenshots
The order of your screenshots is crucially important, as many people will only glance at the first one.
There are various ways to tackle this. One of which is to tell the story of your app with ordered screenshots, but another is to ensure your first screenshot does the most to encapsulate what the app does and why people should want it. Exactly which method you choose will inevitably depend on the look and feel of the individual app.
9. A/B test your screenshots
A/B testing allows you to try out different screenshot combinations to see which are most effective at converting app store browsers into customers. You’ll find a previous guide to A/B testing best practices here.
10. Ensure your screenshots reflect your Unique Selling Point
The final step, which essentially rolls all these tips into one, is to make sure that your app store screenshots put across the USP of your app.
With so many mobile apps out there doing similar things, it’s essential to stand out. So if your app does nine things that the other apps do but one key thing that the others don’t, your screenshots (and indeed all of your app page content) need to show this unique benefit.
So now you’re ready to get cracking on that app store listing – but before you start writing your app store copy, take a look at our short video on app store mistakes. You’ll also want to do your keyword research carefully, which is where a good app store optimization tool (hint we have a recommendation) comes in handy.