Developing Perspective

#41: Prepare for Launch


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing

00:00:06   news of note in iOS, Apple, and the like. I'm your host, David Smith. I'm an independent

00:00:10   iOS and Mac developer. Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes, so let's

00:00:15   get started.

00:00:16   All right, so today I'm going to be talking a little bit of a follow-up to my previous

00:00:22   show, which was about the process I go through when trying to ship an app. And sometime I'm

00:00:27   going to talk about what do you do when you're ready to ship and what that process is like

00:00:32   for me. I've been doing this for a while so hopefully it will be helpful to some other

00:00:35   people to see how that process goes from when you say, "Hey, I'm going to draw a line and

00:00:42   say ship it, this is it. I'm going to take this and put it in the store." And then we

00:00:46   walk through the process. This would probably apply fairly well to a new app as well as

00:00:51   a major update, probably not as well for just a minor bug fix release, but this is talking

00:00:55   about when you're doing something big that you want to get some attention for.

00:00:59   So first thing you're going to do is you're going to go into iTunes Connect, you're going

00:01:02   to submit the application, you're going to hit all the right boxes, get our provisioning

00:01:07   profiles stuff correct so that you actually have an app that you can submit.

00:01:12   But when you're doing a major update, you're probably going to want to do tweaks to both

00:01:16   the app description, the app screenshots, and potentially the app icon.

00:01:21   three things and pretty much just those three things. Are the things that your users are

00:01:28   going to see or your potential customers are going to see when they go into the App Store,

00:01:33   they see your app, someone recommends it, they come across it in a list, search, whatever.

00:01:38   Those are really the only three things that they have with the only exception perhaps

00:01:43   of the user reviews but those you don't really have direct control over so you can't worry

00:01:47   about them too much

00:01:48   uh... and so you're a seer your icon this is going to want to make

00:01:52   and i still good

00:01:54   yes sir p i catching and

00:01:57   grabbing the user i'd just a major

00:01:59   you've got a new one done by the end great folks over at the icon factory who

00:02:02   do excellent work i can highly recommend them if you

00:02:06   uh... you are looking for someone to do an icon for you did a great job and i

00:02:10   could be happier

00:02:11   inside the house are going up in my new

00:02:13   uh... icon which at this point it looks like i can't disconnect is starting to

00:02:16   you allow attend twenty four by ten twenty four pixel

00:02:20   icon

00:02:21   it requires that's the current require up to five to five twelve pixel

00:02:26   icon for the app store but i would just think just mentioning that is saying

00:02:29   that i noticed that they don't get a lot of attention

00:02:32   but my guess is especially with the red nine pad they're wanting that extra

00:02:35   flexibility

00:02:37   uh... because the five twelve five twelve icon they could only ever

00:02:39   display it at 256 by 256 on a retina iPad which may not actually be as large as they'd

00:02:45   like.

00:02:46   So you know, you put in your icon and then you want to write a description.

00:02:52   And I've tried probably everything you could imagine for different description approaches

00:02:58   in the App Store.

00:02:59   I've done just super short and sweet where you're just saying, "Okay, I want..."

00:03:03   It's like, "This is what it does.

00:03:04   Buy me."

00:03:05   done the paragraph form where I'm writing an essay about what the app does, how it does

00:03:14   it, kind of appealing to the user on a more literary prose kind of approach.

00:03:23   And then I've done the bulleted list of here's the six things the app does, boom boom boom

00:03:29   boom boom.

00:03:31   And at this point I'm kind of settling more on the short and sweet description.

00:03:37   I think in my experience both talking to people, talking to reading different surveys from

00:03:41   App Store customers and things like that, you get the impression that most users never

00:03:47   read the description.

00:03:48   They may read it if they have a problem with your app.

00:03:50   They may have a few people who actually read it, but if you put stuff in there that you

00:03:59   need people to read, that is not a place for help text.

00:04:02   That is not a place for something that you need--

00:04:04   if a user needs to know something,

00:04:07   that's not where you're going to want to put it.

00:04:08   Because most people just don't read it.

00:04:09   I think-- it seems like in my experience--

00:04:11   and I know this is what I do, and so I can only

00:04:13   expect other people in the App Store to do a similar thing--

00:04:16   is you look at the app, like title, icon, you kind of--

00:04:21   then you could just flip up on your phone

00:04:24   to look straight to the screenshots.

00:04:27   And so what I've ended up doing is making my app

00:04:29   description as short and as terse and focused as I can.

00:04:33   You have to have a good one, you know, you're trying to have it good, but it's more kind of like you're

00:04:36   kind of targeting it as

00:04:38   it's maybe it's your app in two or three hundred words

00:04:41   that kind of a thing rather than

00:04:44   your app in a thousand words or whatever. Like you're really trying to just focus that down into

00:04:48   like I don't give a feature list anymore, I don't

00:04:51   do a lot of those things, I'm just trying to say, "Hey,

00:04:53   this is what the app does."

00:04:56   want to know, if that sounds good and interesting to you, buy it. It's 99 cents.

00:05:01   You know, buy it. It's $1.99.

00:05:03   You know, you're trying to sort of whet their appetite and make them interested in it

00:05:08   rather than necessarily trying to sell them this whole long thing because I think moreover

00:05:11   or not they're going to be like, "Oh, man,

00:05:14   that's a lot of reading. I'm just looking for something fun."

00:05:17   And so, you know,

00:05:18   that's kind of where I've been heading on that.

00:05:20   And then the last thing you're going to add is screenshots. And screenshots, first

00:05:24   and foremost always use retina screenshots

00:05:28   that's just what you want to do. So if you're on an iPhone

00:05:31   or if you're on an iPhone or an iPad either way you just want to either do them from the simulator

00:05:37   or from the device it's kind of up to you for

00:05:39   depending on what makes most sense. If you're using the simulator the

00:05:43   simplest way to do it is

00:05:44   do command S or file save

00:05:47   and it'll do a screenshot of the

00:05:50   the current screen in the simulator

00:05:52   and then on the flip side on the device I usually do that via Xcode, where if you go to the

00:05:57   organizer device screenshots you can take screenshots there

00:06:01   you don't sort of mess up, you can do it on the device if you hold the home button

00:06:05   and then hit click the sleep/wake button

00:06:08   but if you do that you'll

00:06:09   sort of put what goes into your camera roll and you have to deal with it there whereas

00:06:12   if you do it via Xcode it's kind of all separate which is nice

00:06:17   and then you're gonna want to take the

00:06:20   status bar of your screenshot just because it kind of looks cheesy otherwise

00:06:24   and I think technically in the app description

00:06:27   or in the app

00:06:28   programming guide

00:06:29   for screenshots they recommend that you do that so you just kind of want to keep

00:06:33   Apple happy.

00:06:34   I've seen a bit of a trend recently where people do crazy things with their

00:06:38   screenshots. Like for example they're building

00:06:42   you know they have it's actually like eighteen screenshots

00:06:45   of like different phones overlaid between the different images and like

00:06:48   you know, it's kind of like a mosaic or a triptych or something like that.

00:06:52   Personally, I think that, while I think it

00:06:56   can be effective, it feels kind of cheesy. And it feels

00:07:00   like you're not following the app rule, as it's

00:07:04   sort of described by Apple, and that always makes me nervous. I'd rather

00:07:08   you know, sort of, just do sort of the simple obvious thing, and hopefully my app

00:07:12   screen is interesting enough that I don't need to embellish it with

00:07:16   tricks to

00:07:18   bring people into that.

00:07:21   I think the only place that I can think of recently that I've seen it that I

00:07:24   thought it made sense

00:07:26   was I think with the screenshots for Clear, which is a gesture-based

00:07:30   to-do manager.

00:07:31   Their screenshots have kind of...

00:07:33   are actually

00:07:35   pictures of people,

00:07:36   mostly just the app, but you have essentially a picture with someone's

00:07:39   fingers

00:07:40   doing various gestures to kind of

00:07:43   indicate what sort of something that you wouldn't get from the app itself because the app itself doesn't have any buttons.

00:07:48   It's a very flat app and so much of the actual experience that you're trying to convey in the screenshot needs to have a sense of

00:07:55   gesture to it.

00:07:56   But generally I just do sort of straight

00:07:58   screenshots and often I'll try and

00:08:01   work on if I have one or two screens that are most visually interesting, I'll kind of push them to the left.

00:08:07   You can have five screenshots, but my guess is, you know,

00:08:10   most of your users are probably only going to see maybe the first two or three in terms

00:08:15   of, you know, you're not saying it's not a universal thing, but a lot of people I think

00:08:18   are just kind of like flipping up to make sure that the app doesn't look like junk.

00:08:23   Because I think there's a lot of apps in the store that people kind of are burned on. You

00:08:28   can look at the app description, you're just like, this app's junk. It's just not well

00:08:33   put together and you can kind of tell that from the screenshot. Or the screenshot has

00:08:35   nothing to do with the app, which is kind of like, I think it was TempleJump, which

00:08:40   was a Temple Run scam app a little while ago that the only screenshot was just like a picture

00:08:47   that had nothing to do with the app.

00:08:49   And so you just kind of want to be mindful of that and make sure you put your best foot

00:08:53   forward.

00:08:54   Some people say you should kind of tell a story with your screenshots.

00:08:57   I think screenshots really are just kind of a demonstrating quality rather than necessarily

00:09:01   telling a story because that story can often be difficult to sort of put across to somebody

00:09:07   and you're also then you're only able to tell one story. So if you're, you know, say for

00:09:12   example in my app which it has is about books, you know, if I have us tell a story of someone

00:09:17   discovering and then listening to Pride and Prejudice, if you're not interested in Pride

00:09:20   and Prejudice, if you're, you know, want to listen to Sherlock Holmes or Treasure Island

00:09:24   or an adventure story, that may actually turn you off. So I always try and kind of split

00:09:28   it up between different concepts and things.

00:09:32   And so that's kind of your apps at that point, your app is ready for submission, you can

00:09:35   put it in the store.

00:09:36   So now you kind of start this next sort of phase, which I'll talk through briefly, and

00:09:40   I'm by no means an expert on this phase, but it's something that I think is important.

00:09:45   This is sort of the marketing side of things.

00:09:47   I would say generally, marketing in the App Store is not as, you know, it's definitely

00:09:52   a black art.

00:09:53   There are some people who, like Phil Ryu, who seems to just be a wizard at it.

00:09:59   And then there's a lot of apps that are successful with no marketing.

00:10:03   So it's not exactly one of those things where you can say like, "Do this, this, this, and

00:10:08   this," and you'll be awesome.

00:10:10   You'll be set.

00:10:11   You can sort of have a runaway success.

00:10:13   It's kind of one of those things that you kind of do a bunch of things in the hopes

00:10:16   that maybe they'll pay off, and you're doing things that you're pretty sure won't hurt

00:10:22   So for example, you would want to often do what I call a landing page for the app.

00:10:28   I'm typically not someone who does a lot of sort of a very rich, complicated website for an application

00:10:34   because it's very difficult often to really give a solid impression of an app.

00:10:42   And really what you want is you want people to be going to the app store when they are talking about your app,

00:10:46   when they're recommending it rather than a cool page that you made

00:10:49   because you're gonna drive more sales that way, I think. So like for

00:10:53   you know, for me, I have just a landing page. And so you know, you can say you go to

00:10:57   audiobooksapp.com

00:10:58   for audiobooks. It is an app, it is a web page

00:11:02   that's just sort of a big icon with a little bit of a drop shadow

00:11:06   effect to make it look nice. Really quick, just like, you know, free

00:11:10   classic audiobooks for your iPhone or iPad.

00:11:13   Like, this is what it is, this is what it does, and then if you click, you know,

00:11:17   a big, you know, available on the App Store badge.

00:11:20   And just so you know, you get the available

00:11:23   on the App Store badge, you go into the developer area,

00:11:27   so developer.apple.com/ios, and then on the right side

00:11:31   in the column, there's a thing called marketing resources,

00:11:33   and you click there and you can get access to the PSD

00:11:36   of that image at a high quality that you can resize

00:11:38   to fit your exact things, and there's a whole bunch

00:11:40   of sort of branding guidelines and things Apple gives

00:11:42   that you wanna follow.

00:11:44   But, you know, so that's all I kinda do

00:11:46   landing page and mostly I do that so that I can just provide an option for either reviewers

00:11:53   or for a marketing campaign where you're going to want to be able to send someone to your

00:11:58   app.

00:11:59   So ideally, for me, I would say, "Oh, just search audiobooks in the App Store."

00:12:02   But if you do that, there are a couple of different audiobooks apps in the App Store

00:12:07   and so you may not necessarily find it or hit it upon mind.

00:12:13   But if I say, go to audiobooksapp.com and click the icon,

00:12:18   and you'll go there, I can be pretty assured at that point

00:12:20   that you're going to be finding exactly the app I'm doing.

00:12:24   That's all that's served.

00:12:25   That app is almost just a redirect.

00:12:27   That page is just something that I'm trying to have a URL

00:12:31   that I can send people to, to send them to my app.

00:12:34   It's more like a business card in that way or something

00:12:35   where it's just, here's this token that you can take

00:12:38   and maybe assure that you're going to find my app.

00:12:41   And so I do that, and then I'll kind of reach out to the press.

00:12:45   I'll kind of talk to different people I know.

00:12:47   This is the kind of thing where, as a developer,

00:12:49   you kind of want to have at least a little bit of--

00:12:51   it feels weird to call it your online brand.

00:12:54   But you want to have relationships

00:12:56   with people who have platforms into people,

00:12:59   or a platform from which to talk to potential customers.

00:13:03   It just sort of makes sense.

00:13:05   And this is something that you're not doing because it

00:13:07   means that you may be able to get a promotion for your app.

00:13:09   hopefully those you you're being an active member of the community because

00:13:13   you're an active member of the community and you kind of helping the community

00:13:16   out and you're kind of talking to

00:13:18   uh... different people because you're enjoying it and this is what you do

00:13:21   and you know this is an appropriate time to reach out to those people to

00:13:24   given screenshots to or sorry to to tell what's going on

00:13:27   i've given the news they send a bill with test flight

00:13:31   and just kind of huge let alone if they're interested grade

00:13:34   and if we would be pushy but that kind of thing because

00:13:36   you know you've got to be your try to be friends with these people you're you

00:13:39   don't feel like, I'm sure they don't want to feel like they're being sold all the time.

00:13:44   But one thing I definitely put together for them is for a press kit.

00:13:47   And a press kit isn't anything more than just a collection of kind of resources that will

00:13:52   make them, their life easier as I'm trying to put together a review.

00:13:56   So it'll include screenshots, it'll include rounded versions of the icon, and it'll include

00:14:01   some text that they can not necessarily put in their review, but just be helpful.

00:14:05   A long description, a short description, a list of features, links to everything that

00:14:09   you want ideally maybe a promo video just a quick like 60 second hey here's

00:14:13   the app here's what it does they just kind of try to make their life a little

00:14:15   easier if you know when they're trying to write a review if that is something

00:14:19   they're gonna do and then you you just kind of wait hope that it gets approved

00:14:24   but doesn't get rejected hope that everything goes well and you know then

00:14:29   it launches and so that's kind of my process hopefully that's helpful and

00:14:33   that's it for today's show if you have any questions comments concerns always

00:14:37   As always, hit me up on Twitter. I'm @_davidsmith. Otherwise, if you like the show, please tell

00:14:44   a friend, tell two, tell three. The more people who listen, the more likely I am to do the

00:14:49   show and otherwise, have a good week, happy coding, and I'll talk to you later. Bye.

00:14:54   [BLANK_AUDIO]