App Screenshots & App Videos Best Practices

September 29th, 2018

App Screenshots & App Videos Best Practices
Anh Nguyen

by Anh Nguyen

COO & Co-Founder at Gummicube, Inc

App developers use visual aids such as screenshots and preview videos to capture users’ attention. These aids are a vital, driving force for the user acquisition funnel, but poorly done creatives can drastically damage conversion rates. The only way to convince these users to install is by making sure that their screenshots and preview video are optimized following ASO best practices. Without following these tips, developers can risk losing out on potential users that will boost their conversion.

General Best Practices

Before diving into the specific best practices for both screenshots and preview videos, there are some general practices that developers should follow when optimizing their creatives. One practice is to evaluate the current market and research what competitors are doing. Are there specific trends regarding color palettes, character/in-app imagery, length of call out text, etc.? They need to look at what top-competing apps are doing and see how they can implement similar points into their own creatives. It’s also important to assess changing trends in the App Stores over time to fully understand competitor strategies. Design styles from iOS 8 won’t look current in the latest App Store, and may not convert as well as an app that looks more modern. At a more granular level, competitors may be changing their creative strategies over time, building upon what works. Tools like the Wayback Machine can show some of this, but App Store Intelligence software like DATACUBE can show creatives used in past versions as well as the impact those changes had on keyword and category rankings. Developers should also track what keywords their app is best performing for and be sure to incorporate those keywords in the call out text of screenshots and preview videos. For screenshots, using high-volume keywords will help drive conversion from impressions on those keywords. Higher click-through rate on these keywords can lead to higher ranking for those terms and phrases.

Best Practices for Screenshots

Screenshots can be looked at as smaller posters for an app that highlight various core features, mechanics, etc. In order to convert users, developers must emphasize these features without being too confusing through text and images. Developers have to keep in mind that screenshot orientation is a large factor as it may convert or deter users. For instance, on the App Store, the first three portrait screenshots are displayed in search whereas only the first landscape screenshot is displayed. Being able to see a number of screenshots vs just the one is helpful and can convince users to directly download from a search result impression. However, a con for portrait is that since the first three screenshots are displayed, each image and its elements appear smaller. If the images are too cluttered or busy, users may not convert. Other best practices to consider when designing screenshots are:

  • Using colors to be consistent with brand identity
  • Display concept/character art featuring the latest update
  • Utilize high contrast and open spaces with simple, readable fonts
  • Use brief call to actions (terms or phrases) that incorporate high-volume keywords
  • Utilize max number of screenshots (iOS: 10; Android: 8 per device)

During the optimization process, if an app is available in multiple territories, developers will have to make sure they’re also localizing their screenshots. That means that the image may stay the same, but text, callout banners, colors, and more will have to change. For instance, look at Clash of Clans US screenshots vs their Hong Kong Screenshots. The images are nearly identical, but they’ve made sure to localize the call out text to show users in each territory the app is tailored to their market. By incorporating the language of the territory, they’ve been able to target additional users in that market.

Best Practices for Preview Video

While the screenshots show brief glimpses through static images of what the app looks like, the preview video shows it in action. Given the short attention span of a user swiping through search results, developers need to instantly hook potential users within just the first few seconds of the app preview video. Some things that developers should keep in mind when optimizing are very similar to the best practices for screenshots. Colors, images, call to actions, and more should all be on brand and highlight the app’s core features. Other things to consider are:

  • Instantly highlight most core feature
  • Keep a steady pace
  • Ensure the video looks good in the chosen orientation (portrait or landscape)
  • Don’t forget the importance of the poster frame (static image)

Starting with the most core feature will instantly capture users and also tell them exactly what the app does if they didn’t already know. If there isn’t a rhythm to the video, you may lose the user’s attention, which can lead to them not completing the video or converting to a download. Additionally, developers can’t forget about the poster frame. This will be the static image users see when/if the video isn’t auto-playing (iOS). Developers can use what they’ve learned from screenshots and apply it to the poster frame to ensure it’s not a random image. Since preview videos are displayed alongside the screenshots, the poster frame can be thought of as the first screenshot. While keeping these factors in mind, developers will also need to follow the App Store and Google Play Store guidelines to avoid rejection. Some guidelines for iOS are:

  • Can only be 15-30 seconds long
  • Must use straightforward transitions
  • Show in-app usage and functionality
  • Cannot show outside images/clips of users interacting with a device that has the app
  • Showing handsets in the video is a likely reason for rejection from the App Store Review team
Always A/B Test to Ensure Performance

While these best practices will ultimately help developers create optimized screenshots and preview videos, they should also conduct A/B tests to ensure these creatives are performing. This process allows developers to select different variants that feature similar or contrasting images, colors, screen orientation, and more to see which engages and converts users better. The information gathered from these A/B tests is invaluable and can seriously help developers improve their conversion. Knowing that a well-done preview video can increase conversion by up to 25% while one that is poorly done can hurt conversion by just as much, is a useful piece of knowledge developers can keep in mind when A/B testing. Ultimately, by opting to conduct a test, developers are saving time and money in the long-run. They can quickly identify what performs best so they can start converting users faster.

Follow ASO Best Practices

Creatives are the key to converting users. If the screenshots and preview video aren’t optimized following ASO best practices, developers can risk the chance of losing users. There are factors that developers will have to keep in mind when designing both, and they’ll also need to follow any guidelines set in place. Ultimately, they need to conduct A/B tests to ensure that their creatives are performing and engaging the audience. If users aren’t drawn to the screenshots or preview video, the app can see lower conversion rates. Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.

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