ASO Best Practices: Designing App Store Creatives

App Store Optimization and Creative best practices

This is part six of our Mobile Marketing Creatives Series. In ten episodes, we aim to provide insight and inspiration on creating thumb-stopping visuals to promote your app. 

Download the Mobile Ad Creatives eBook today to read the other nine parts of this series. The comprehensive guide includes ten core topics condensed into a practical blueprint with examples from AppAgent’s Creative Team.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How users make decisions about which app or game to download.
  • How a hypothesis planner can effectively guide your ASO (App Store Optimization) efforts.
  • Techniques to create app store screenshots and feature graphics that stand out and attract more users.

What is App Store Optimization?

App Store Optimization (ASO) is first and foremost a mid-funnel strategy for converting App Store and Google Play page visits into downloads. 

There are two main areas of ASO: search optimization and conversion rate optimizationThe former is primarily about optimizing keywords in the app title, subtitle, keyword field (Apple App Store) or app description (Google Play Store). 

What is Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)?

In 95% of cases, most search traffic originates from users searching for specific brands, while a smaller portion comes from targeting competitors, and even less from generic terms. 

Unless your app serves a niche where many users strongly intend to meet their needs through an app, like a fitness app for weight loss, you should focus on conversion rate optimization (CRO).

CRO is all about having a clear definition of an app’s purpose and understanding how to best position it for maximum appeal to an audience. Conversion is strongly influenced by visual elements on the store page, including an app’s icon, preview video and screenshots.

Insights on App Store User Behavior

Did you know that a mere 1% of users read an app description on the App Store? 

Here are some surprising facts about app store behavior that you should be aware of. These data points represent averages of both portrait and landscape views, considering data from both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store:

  1. The average time spent on a store page is only 7 seconds (6.8 seconds to be precise). Decisive users spend even less time, while explorative users may spend around 20 to 30 seconds. (Source: Data provided by Geeklab.)
  2. Only 1 in every 10 users (exactly 13%) scrolls through screenshots. Additionally, less than 18% of viewers will see a screenshot in the second slot. (Source: AppAgent’s tests and data provided by Geeklab)
  3. The average user’s attention span while watching an app preview video is just 7 seconds. Moreover, only 8% of viewers watch the video until the end. (Source: Youtube analytics, Geeklab.)

These insights mean one thing: your app’s presentation must be straightforward and immediate. It should clearly convey what your app represents right from the first impression frame that users encounter when they land on the store page.

How to Design APP STORE ICONS, SCREENSHOTS, AND APP PREVIEW VIDEOS

The design process starts with a solid creative strategy. Such a strategy is based on of three  fundamental inputs covered in previous parts of the Creative Series:

  1. Audience analysis
  2. Competition analysis
  3. Unique Selling Proposition (USP) & brand definition

With these building blocks in place, you and your design team should be 100% clear on what you want to communicate to your audience. 

When designing mobile ads and store pages, always remember that their purposes differ, and you should approach them with distinct strategies and goals.

Paid user acquisition (UA) campaigns aimed at attracting clicks should provide viewers with at least 60% insight into the app or game’s content. 

On the other hand, the store listing should offer 90% clarity on the benefits users will gain from downloading the app. This approach will lead to success in strong, top-of-the-funnel metrics like click-through-rate (CTR) and install rate, while also boosting retention rates and increasing the percentage of paying customers.

Defining Priorities for App Store A/B Tests

At AppAgent, when analyzing our clients’ previous experiments, we often find that they focus too much on minor elements. Inspired by Phiture’s Experiment Flywheel, we developed our own guide called the ‘A/B Testing Loop.’

You can download the framework HERE.

Design

Based on our experience, around 60% of positive results stem from major design changes. Therefore, it’s crucial to give equal focus to both asset production and testing volume.

Key areas to consider are:

  • Design of new screenshots
  • Icon design
  • Background color
  • App preview video and feature art design

Communication

Around 20% of your investment should be allocated to experiments focusing on communication elements, including:

  • Copy of your screenshots
  • Headline in the feature art
  • Testing the impact of branding
  • Playing with iconography in the video cover or first screenshot

Layout

In general, changes in composition are unlikely to lead to improvements of more than 20%. Nevertheless, it’s worth experimenting with the following elements:

  • Order of screenshots
  • Orientation of screenshots
  • Layout of visual elements in the icon, screenshots, and feature art
  • Size/position of headlines in screenshots

Hypothesis Planner

To maintain organization and prioritize your main goals effectively, you can utilize a hypothesis planner. This is a straightforward document in which you outline the reasons why you expect a particular A/B test to yield positive results. 

For a more advanced approach, you can incorporate a scoring system into the planner. This helps you determine which experiments to prioritize and execute first. The scoring system can consider variables such as:

  1. Visibility of the asset
  2. Ease of production
  3. Relevance to previous insights

By evaluating these factors, you can calculate the final score for each hypothesis and make informed decisions accordingly.

THE APP STORE LISTING DESIGN PROCESS

If your team has already completed past store experiments, you should leverage these insights that have been proven to increase conversion rate. 

In case you don’t have such information available, you can pre-test these ideas using existing assets before investing in the creation of a new set.

For example, you can pre-test:

  1. The order of screenshots to establish which key message in the first impression frame converts users the best.
  2. Remove screenshot headlines to eventually save resources on localizations.
  3. Add a brand in your feature art or first screenshot.
  4. Remove the video completely to again save resources.

When creating new concepts at AppAgent, we find it beneficial to start with sketches. These sketches help us align the content first, ensuring that our clients are well-prepared and won’t be surprised by the details.

Moreover, the sketches act as guides for designers to stay true to the original vision. Below, you can see a comparison between a concept sketch and the final screenshot design for Clash of Clans.

If necessary, you can create a mockup using existing game visuals in Powerpoint or Keynote. This simple mockup can effectively demonstrate the design direction of your ads.

Another recommendation is to maintain simplicity while designing new assets. Begin by testing them in English only, starting with static assets, and refrain from creating videos. Video production can be costly and should only incorporate the insights gained from screenshot testing.

If you find that using headlines in visuals doesn’t significantly improve your store presence, it’s best to avoid them. This way, you can save resources for future localization needs.

Best Practices for App Store Design

Below are eight valuable tips that serve as AppAgent’s guiding principles for our team of idea makers and designers. To better understand these principles, take a look at examples created by our internal creative team.

1. Logical Structure

A creative strategy canvas outlines the purpose of each asset, from the icon to the fifth screenshot. Stick to the communication plan and focus on testing different executions through A/B testing to assess their effectiveness.

2. Employ a visual language

Your screenshots and feature graphics should effectively convey messages visually. To test this, try removing headlines from any asset and ask people around you what they think the screenshot is trying to communicate. This will help you assess the clarity of your visual messaging.

3. Show your app in action

When showcasing your app, make sure to demonstrate it in use. Show how it works, what’s happening on the screen, and how it enhances the overall user experience.

4. Use clear content

To prevent confusion, avoid overcrowding a limited space with too much information. Keep each asset focused on conveying just one key message.

5. Zoom in

Given that people will view your design on a small screen, it’s crucial to enlarge major elements, keywords, or app UI components. This helps users better comprehend the message and ensures that important information stands out clearly, even on smaller screens.

6. Simplify User Interface

Although it can be tricky due to app store policies, aim to streamline the user interface and retain only essential elements when delivering your message. Be prepared with backup screenshots in case of rejection by the review team.

7. Use Bright Colors

If you study successful apps, you’ll notice that they often use bright and vivid colors. This is because bright colors make it easy for users to quickly understand the image, especially on small screens. 

8. Embrace Emotions

Mobile developers design experiences! To achieve impactful communication, use strong emotions, combining powerful visuals and compelling words. Those who excel in this approach also achieve the best business results, just like Playrix or Tactile Games.

Creating a Backlog of App Store Experiments

Google Play and Apple App Store optimization is all about testing. To avoid going around in circles, make sure to monitor your learnings and progress.

To accomplish this, maintain your own experiment backlog, where you store all conducted experiments. Visually highlight the winners, note the conversion uplift, and record the main learnings that you can leverage in future experimentation cycles. 

This systematic approach will help refine your strategies and continually improve your app’s performance.

Final Thoughts

To achieve a high conversion rate (ideally 50%+ for organic traffic), it’s crucial to recognize that users often have little interest in your app. Their download decision happens almost instantly. Therefore, you must design a store page that aligns with your primary acquisition channel or ad to prevent confusion and reduce drop-offs in the acquisition funnel.

A creative strategy canvas offers valuable guidance on what you want to communicate. Meanwhile, a hypothesis planner aids in deciding what to test immediately and what to consider for later. 

By starting with hand-sketches or mockups, you can swiftly align with stakeholders on the content of each asset. This approach facilitates efficient communication and ensures everyone involved is on the same page regarding the asset’s purpose and design.

To deliver clear and compelling visuals, designers should follow the eight tips above when executing concepts. 

Once you’ve completed every experiment, the main results and learnings should be stored in your experiment backlog to help you improve over time.

Mobile Ad Creatives eBook

How to Design Ads and App Store Creatives

A comprehensive guide to designing thumb-stopping visuals that will grow your user base and revenue.

Keep up with appagent

📕 Learn more about industry insights and best practices by signing up for our newsletter.

🤝 Get help with growth strategy, app marketing, user acquisition and video ad production by contacting us at hi@appagent.com.

👉 Follow us on LinkedInTwitterYouTube, TikTokFacebook, and Instagram.

👥 Join our team as a Mobile Growth Manager or Junior Creative Producer.

RELATED ARTICLES

did you like it? share it!

LINKEDIN
POCKET

Download the Creative Testing Guide

Bring your creative testing process to the next level with AppAgent's bulletproof method, backed by top mobile publishers.

Sign up for our newsletter

Get mobile marketing insights and invites to exclusive webinars sent right to your inbox. 

MULTIPLY YOUR APP REVENUE WITH THE AWARD-WINNING APP GROWTH PROGRAM​

Request a free 30-minute strategy consultation to explore how AppAgent can boost your downloads and revenue by 300% or more!

DOWNLOAD UGC AD BRIEF TEMPLATE

DOWNLOAD CREATIVE TESTING GUIDE

SUBSCRIBE TO APPAGENT NEWSLETTER

Please enter your name and email to subscribe.