They say to never judge a book by its cover but that is exactly what we are doing when we look for an app that not only solves our problems but is also visually appealing at the same time. There is such a large selection of apps that customers need to know quickly which ones to get. What motivates someone to download an app from an app store?
According to a European Technographics Consumer Technology Online Survey done in 2012 by Forrester Research Inc., 63% of apps are discovered by searching in an app store, making it the most common method for finding and downloading apps. In 2016, there were 90 billion downloads from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store combined. With this impressive data in mind, app store optimization is key to helping stand out from the competition and influencing downloads.
App store optimization, also known as ASO, is the process of helping mobile apps rank higher in app store search results. With the app ranking higher in the results, it becomes more noticeable and discoverable to possible customers and traffic becomes more frequent on your app’s page, which means: more downloads.
There are several factors involved to help with app store optimization. Having a title, a stellar icon design, description, location, screenshots and video tutorials on your app detail page are all part of the process. It is also important to think of the keywords and language your target audience and potential customers will use to search for apps similar to yours.
With those factors in mind, the clean-cut design of your app icon also plays a major role in the app store optimization process because it is the first thing people notice when searching for apps. Having that visual appeal and unique design is important to stand out against competitors.
A strong first impression is essential to increase conversion rates because it can do so by up to 35%. In general, based on solid first impressions, 50% of people decide to install an app and 60% of visitors won’t scroll past them. (If you are wondering what a normal conversion rate is, an average rate would be 26.4%, the highest is 82% and the lowest is 0.36% from apps in the games category).
Before even starting to think of the elements in your icon, you should give your app branding some serious thought. To help with this you can ask yourself a few questions about your brand: Who is going to use your app and why? What makes your app unique compared to the competition? What message do you want to get across to your app users? What is the tone of your app? What emotions do you want your users to feel when they use your app? In answering these questions you will have a clear picture of who you are as a brand.
Today we’ll only address the app icon specifically, but it is important to have in mind that it is not the only thing you should take into account. Everything from the colour scheme, to the name, typography, tone of voice and visual branding guidelines, help build the branding personality which creates a deeper and easier connection with customers.
Here are a couple of resources you can read and act on to make sure you have your branding game on point:
Picking the right colour for your app icon can help in determining its success because they are a reflection of the personality and theme of your brand. They have the strong power of persuasion with 90% of consumers judging products based solely on their colour.
In fact, the visual aspect of a product plays a large role in the purchase process with 92.6% of people saying it is the most important factor when buying something. For instance, as an experiment when Heinz changed their ketchup from red to green in the year 2000, 10 million bottles were sold in the first 7 months, bringing in $23 million in sales. At that time, this was the biggest sales increase they had ever experienced.
Colours show the feeling and mood your brand represents, it tells consumers subconsciously how they are supposed to feel when they see your app. Emotions and traits are often associated with colours, for instance, blue is often paired with trust and security, purple signifies sophistication, brown represents the outdoors and red means passion. They should be an accurate representation of the important values your brand embodies that you want to instill in your visitors and users.
Now that you are aware of the impact colours have on your brand’s success, here are some best practices to keep in mind when picking the right ones for you:
If you are still unsure about which colour is best fit for your brand, you can try out this fun little company colour quiz to get you started. This website bases the results of your quiz on marketing articles and research studies. A few of the questions include how you would describe your customers, who your product or service is for and which characteristics best describe your company.
The Material Design website provides help with the design principles of your app, including guiding you through a grid and keyline shapes, specs and icon treatments. We have taken the following points directly from their website to help you out.
Grid and Keyline Shapes:
Be sure to check out this full guide on the Material Design website if you want to dive further into your design principles.
Once you have a couple of icon ideas in mind, the hardest part is making your final decision in picking only one. This decision ultimately decides the fate of your app brand and whether it will succeed in the app stores. This is where A/B testing comes into play.
A/B testing is a way to test two different versions of an app to see which works and performs best. In this case, you will be looking at which icon design is more popular and gets more clicks. This testing can make a big difference to your app’s success, for instance, the CashQuizz app was able to double its daily downloads by making adjustments and adding more colour variations to its old icon design, which increased the total number of downloads by over 150%. Gram Games is another app that was able to increase conversions by 26% through A/B testing their icon.
The testing process involves half of your traffic being shown an original version while the other half is shown a modified version of your app icon. The users’ experiences are then recorded, measured, collected and analyzed through a statistical engine. When experimenting, it is important to make sure both versions are extremely different and bold for clear testing answers.
For Android, developers can use Google Play’s A/B testing feature which is an experimental option in their console that lets them test their icons. With iOS there is paid A/B testing on Facebook. If you are interested in knowing the exact steps on how to do these two A/B testing options check out this link.
Here are some other online tools to help with your app conversion rates with A/B testing:
As we mentioned above in this post, the design of your app icon is one of the keys to success in the app store optimization process. Let’s take a look at a couple of best practices used to attract customers and increase downloads:
Here are some pointers that are specific to Apple:
Here is a pointer specific to Google:
As you can see, even the simple act of picking a colour scheme for your icon can impact the outcome of your app’s success. Optimizing the design of the icon is the first step to getting your search rankings to climb in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Be creative, remember your brand values, don’t be shy to experiment and keep in mind those best practices for app store optimization and icon design. You’ll be on the feature page in no time!
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