Our new series titled How to Market an Android App, Tips for Developers, is intended for Android developers who currently have an app in the Android Market or are actively developing one. Having personally downloaded and tested thousands of Android apps and games over the past two years, I have identified many characteristics (some obvious, others not so much) which many of the most successful apps possess.
While some of these tips will pertain to marketing an Android app, as in increasing the number of downloads, ratings, and popularity your app receives, other tips will focus on general app development and the downstream user experience.
Tip #1: Have a simple, high resolution Android Market icon
This. is. critical. The Android Market icon is the proverbial “first impression.” A person browsing the Market will evaluate your app based largely on the icon alone because of its positional prominence and our own visual nature as humans (name, price, and ratings are also there). Since a user can’t read the full description of your app without first clicking on it in an Android Market list, generating that initial click relies heavily on the quality and design of your icon.
512 x 512 pixel PNG file with alpha (alpha = transparency information)
Maximum size of 1024KB
Icon should clearly convey the app’s functionality and purpose
Leverage colors and branding images associated with the app
Keep it simple, straightforward with large subject
Make it unique, attention-grabbing
Tip #2: Construct a concise, detailed Android Market description
The first 167 characters of your app description are the most important and should contain keywords that describe explicitly the function of your Android app. When a user performs a search on the Android Market website, a 167 character description accompanies the app icon and is your second chance (after the app icon) to grab a user’s attention. On the mobile Android Market, the description is comprised of the app’s tagline and the remaining 4000 characters, however, before the user hits the “More” button only six lines are displayed (approximately 257 characters).
In general, the app description snippet acts much like a webpage’s meta description in a search result, describing what the user can expect to find.
Requirements (from Google):
Product descriptions should not be misleading or loaded with keywords in an attempt to manipulate ranking or relevancy in the store’s search results.
Give priority to the first 257 characters of the app description (for mobile Android Market)
Concentrate relevant keywords and purpose in the first 167 characters (for Android Market website)
In the subsequent description area, outline the main features of the app in an easy-to-read, bulleted list
Tip #3: Utilize optional promotional content for the Android Market
Take advantage of all of the “optional” material allowed on the Android Market to convince users to take the time to download your app. Not spending the time to provide this information upfront may lead potential users to doubt the general quality of and overall developer dedication to the Android app.
Recommendations (from Google):
Provide a feature graphic (used on the Android Market website) to headline your app page. Specifications: 1024 x 500 pixel (width x height), 24 bit PNG or JPEG (no alpha) with no transparency
Upload six to eight screenshots (minimum number is just two, not enough) because of their visual prominence in the Android Market (website and mobile forms)
Create a short video highlighting features of the app (acts like a virtual test-drive, comforting the user that they “know before they buy”)
Your feature graphic should complement your Android Market icon (as they will be adjacent to one another in most cases), e.g. similar colors, large text (if any), and consistent graphics/design
Edit your video to be brief (3o-60 seconds) and focus solely on the primary features. For Android games, this should largely be gameplay video.
If you’re an Android developer, have you already done what’s recommended above in tips #1-3? Or if you’re not, but love Android apps, let us know how much each of these characteristics factor in to your decision to download and install a specific app. Plus, check back for future updates in our series of How to Market an Android App, Tips for Developers.