• Design
  • COMPLETE FAVICON DESIGN GUIDE WITH INSTRUCTIONS FOR PNG, ICO AND SVG

    A favicon is the tiny icon that appears on the left in the browser tab when somebody is viewing any of the pages of your website. Most website creators don’t spend much time creating and implementing the favicon. This tiny design element however, plays a great role in your brand’s identity. Consider how often you have multiple tabs open in your web browser. Even those of you out there who have sworn off multitasking know how often they have a multiple browser tabs open.

    A well-designed favicon can make it easy to navigate back to the pages that you want to view, even without reading the text on the browser tab. You can give your website a more solid brand identity by spending some time on this little bitty icon. After all, this icon appears on every webpage you publish!

    you can often recognize websites by their favicon image

    Back in the day, when Google analytics was still just a dream, many website owners used the favicon to estimate the traffic to their sites by tracking the amount of people who added the site to the their bookmarks. These days the favicon is more about the user experience.

     

    The favicon should be a graphical representation of your brand. While it may be tiny, it can help your brand stand out in a big way. Websites that don’t design and implement a custom favicon resort to using the default icon for the platform used to develop the website. Using this default icon can make your project look overall unpolished and unprofessional.

    Make sure you aren’t distracting the user from all the great content that you offer on your website by implementing the favicon in all of the necessary places of your site’s code. After you complete the SOP available for free above, you’ll not only have all the formats needed for your favicon but you’ll have the HTML code needed to implement the favicon on your website.

    FAVICON FORMAT GUIDELINES

    Due to the limited space for the favicon you shouldn’t just stick in any image, like your brand’s logo, and expect it to look good when made into a favicon. You should make sure you have a designer create the image specifically for the favicon space so that it looks great in all of the following places:

    • Classic desktop browser
    • Mac OS Safari
    • Windows 8 and 10
    • Android Chrome
    • iOS Safari

    All of the instructions and specifications for creating a favicon for each of these places are included in the SOP above and they are extremely easy to follow. We found a free tool that makes this daunting task quick and painless without you having to sacrifice any opportunities for brand awareness.

    make sure your favicon works for every device and browser

    Because this is an important but often overlooked aspect of your website, it’s important to have a designer take a specific visual feature from your website or logo to create a relevant and eye-catching icon. This isn’t a very time intensive task, and if the designer uses the SOP provided above then the task becomes even faster. While you may be on a tight budget, getting this done right should not break the bank.

    Pass this SOP directly to your designer and they will have all of the latest requirements and constraints of a favicon so that you don’t have to worry about assembling them yourself. Using the SOP, your designer will be able to create a favicon in all of the formats needed for the various browsers, tablets, mobile phones, etc. without wasting time.

    Once you or your freelancer has followed the SOP to generate your favicon in all file types and sizes needed, you can implement it on your website. Give the icon a final check to make sure it looks the way you want it to on every platform. This is fast and easy to do by using this free favicon checker tool.

     

    The checker will show you how your favicon will look in all places on the web, including on Microsoft’s tablet computer and Safari’s pinned tabs, both of which have more unusual favicon requirements.

    Download the SOP above to get started today. A good designer will get your favicon back to you in no time. Best of luck on your website!  

  • Design
  • EASILY FIND PROBLEMS IN YOUR WEBSITE UX

    You might have a good understanding about your target audience, but you can’t know know how a real user will view respond to your website unless you’ve had one test it out. Even if you’ve agonized over every detail, perfecting the layout and choosing your images carefully, there will always be some unexpected issues.

    Stepping back and watching somebody else look over your website can give you incredible insights into the potential usability problems or confusing information on your site. This kind of testing is addicting- once you realize how quickly you can gather valuable feedback this way, you won’t want to stop testing. The website testing plan example available for download above makes it easy and fast to gather information that will be of immediate value to your business.

    If you’ve been working on your website for a decent amount of time, everything on the site may seem obvious and easy to use from your perspective. The only way to see it from the point of view of a new user is to get someone who hasn’t seen it before to take a look. You’ll be surprised at what you’ve missed that can easily be fixed or improved.

    how to user test your website

    CAN I GET MY FRIENDS TO UX TEST?

    Ideally the person who looks at your website should have no connection to your project as this may influence their opinions and thoughts about the design and user experience. If the person has no vested interest in your project, you will likely get more real and honest feedback. Your friends may be hesitant to nitpick through your project.

    Someone who has no knowledge or understanding of your project will give you clear insights into how a normal user will feel when coming across your site. A person who is completely unfamiliar with what you do should be able to tell by looking at your website what your company does without any additional explanation.

    ux test your target market

    Do user testing with people in your target market, making sure to include a range of ages and backgrounds so that your feedback is more complete. You can experiment with a few testers from outside your target market as well. These people will likely add further insights about your website user experience.

    KEEPING COSTS LOW WHEN TESTING YOUR WEBSITE

    Keep in mind that your friends might sugarcoat their experience with your website so as not to offend you. It’s better to find a neutral party who can analyze your site from a real user’s perspective. Conducting user testing doesn’t need to be expensive. Using the SOP provided above, you can ask anyone in your target market without any special skills to conduct this test. You can find freelancers on websites like Fiverr (non-affiliate) or Upwork (non-affiliate) to do this test for you.

    Using third party platforms like Fiverr or Upwork can also be beneficial because the users testing your site may have backgrounds in design or user experience themselves. These freelancers have probably worked on a multitude of other websites and are aware of what does and doesn’t work, especially when it comes to design.

    how to choose your color palette

    If you tend to favor a certain color palette in your personal taste, it may help you to see those colors through the eyes of another person. You might find that some color schemes distract the reader from the actual content or make it more difficult for the reader to use the website.

    You may not have considered that some of your users might have some kind of color blindness which would make it difficult for them to distinguish between different shades of certain colors. You want to make sure that your colors don’t ultimately make it more difficult for someone to use your website properly. At the end of the day, you want to deliver your message clearly and with as few obstacles as possible.

    Take time throughout your development process to periodically do user testing. This will help guide your user experience as well as help you to avoid wasting time on unnecessary features and designs. Use the SOP at the top of this blog post to get started with some basic user testing.

  • Design
  • THE OVERLOOKED BUT ALL-IMPORTANT ANDROID FEATURE GRAPHIC

    Once you’ve built an Android app, it’s time to think about the promotional materials that you’ll put together in order to get the app seen and downloaded in the Android market. Since you’ve spent so much time and effort on developing the app, many of these promotional details may have been pushed to the back-burner.

    The truth is, some of these details are just as important as how your app functions because they may be the determining factor for whether or not a user will download your app. One of these details is the feature graphic, which appears at the top of the screen when you look at the details for an app in the Google Play App Store.

    The feature graphic acts as a visual summary to describe your app’s purpose and its benefits to users who may not have ever seen or used it before. The image should be colorful and eye-catching in order to stand out in the sea of apps in Google Play or any other Android app markets.

    examples of a few google play store graphics

    Android Feature Graphic Rules

    Feature graphics must follow the guidelines that Google provides in order to fit perfectly in the space provided in Google Play. It’s better not to take a graphic that you used for a different promotional spot, like on your Facebook page or your app splash screen, and stretch it so that it fits in the feature graphic space. The feature graphic should be specifically designed for use in the Google Play Store.

    That being said, you can certainly use elements or the style from other graphics you’ve created for your app. Just make sure that your designer creates the feature graphic using the dimensions outlined by Google. The design requirements can be found in the SOP document available for download above.

    feature graphic for localization of app

    When considering the design of your feature graphic, think about whether you plan to translate the app into different languages in the future. If this is the case, you should think carefully whether or not you want to include any text within the feature graphic. Google allows you to change the feature graphic for each language but this may end up being a an unnecessary use of your time, especially if you plan on keeping the style of the app updated with market design trends.

    If you can come up with an image for the feature graphic that describes your app without any text, it will simplify your work in the long run. Additionally, try to avoid using screenshots of your app in the feature graphic or you will need to update the graphic every time you make changes to your app.

    The Importance of the Feature Graphic

    The feature graphic is the very first thing that your audience will see related to your app after they click on the app icon in Google Play. They will see this graphic before they see the your app’s written description. They may even judge your app based solely on this graphic.  

    Creating the feature graphic for an app is often an overlooked or rushed task, but it’s important to spend a little bit of effort creating a graphic that grabs the attention of your target audience. Choose bright colors, simple messaging and make sure you don’t crowd the space with unnecessary images or text. This will encourage users to download your app which in turn will lead to a higher ranking in Google Play and more potential revenue for your team.

    take time to create a quality feature graphic

    As the design is so important for the feature graphic, outsourcing this task to a designer with a marketing background may be a good idea if you don’t have one in-house. Experienced graphic designers will understand the best layout for the space and will know which elements to include within the graphic to attract the attention of your audience. The designer can use some of the working files from your user-interface design and playfully incorporate them into a graphic which becomes an eye-catching ad for your app.

    The SOP document provided at the top of this blog post is a creative brief with all the instructions that your designer needs to create a feature graphic for Google Play. Pass the SOP to your designer and they will pass the feature graphic back to you. Good luck on your project!

  • Research
  • FINDING YOUR COMPETITORS IN GOOGLE (so you can crush them)

    Let’s put the “anal” in Competitive Analysis! I nerdily just cracked myself up with that one. But seriously, competitive analysis is tedious and dull, and yet absolutely critical for you to do for your website. The competitive analysis template that is downloadable above will help you get this task done without the headache. Once you’ve finished, you’ll have a good understanding of your market position and have a wealth of new sources for content ideas, designs and social media strategies.

    It’s easy to get convinced that you’re the only person out there creating a website about a certain topic or product. Maybe you haven’t heard of or come across one before that provides the information or resources that yours will have. It’s time to put in a little elbow grease and find out exactly what’s out there and whether it is a competitor to your site. Having competitors shouldn’t scare you out of creating your site. On the contrary, having competitors often validates your idea, proving that there is a market out there interested in your service or product.

    If your website is already live and you still haven’t done a competitive analysis, don’t worry. No matter what stage you’re at in your business, you can glean great insight and inspiration from understanding who else is out there working in a similar niche.

    You might be afraid to seek out your competitors, thinking that you’ll discover someone out there who’s beating you at your own game. Suck it up, soldier! It’s better to understand the threats facing your business and tackle them head on than to be totally blind and find out after you’ve already sunk your blood, sweat and time into your project.

    There are various methods of doing competitive analysis, but the one we’ll be focusing on here is to find out who your competitors are in Google. Unless you have a massive marketing budget (congrats for you!), you’ll want to make sure that people are able to find your website when they search in Google.

    Blog image organic seo template

    People that find your website by searching in Google or other search engines like Yahoo or DuckDuckGo are called “organic traffic” because they naturally find you without being served an ad or visiting your site directly through the URL. The more organic traffic you get, the less you’ll need to spend on advertising to attract an audience.

    Determining Your Target Keywords

    Before you start this competitive analysis, you’ll need to know which keywords you are targeting for your website. That is, what would you want someone to be typing into Google in order to find your site?

    For example, pretend you run an e-commerce site that sells luxury dog beds. Potential customers might type keywords like “best dog beds” or “most comfortable dog beds” into Google in order to find your website.

    If you already know which keywords you are going after, great, keep going! If not, take 20 minutes now to learn some strategies for picking great keywords from the links we’ve wrangled up below.

    As a general rule, you should aim for keywords for which it will be possible to rank in the first page of Google. If all the links in the first page of Google are already being dominated by big names like Wikipedia, eHow, etc. for a keyword, then throw it out and go after some different ones. If you’re not sure about the strength of your competitors, you’ll know more about where you stand after completing the competitive analysis SOP available above.

    Here are some resources from trusted sources for choosing the best keywords for your website:

    1. Beginners Guide to SEO (non-affiliate)
    2. Keyword Research (non-affiliate)
    3. Niche Site Keyword Research (non-affiliate)
    Know your keywords blog graphic

    Once you have your keywords ready, you can collect thorough data about your competitor’s websites. This task takes a bit of time but it doesn’t require any special skills. If you are strapped for time, pass the SOP document to your freelance worker and they will handle it for you.

    If you don’t have a freelancer ready, you can also click the link below to have us do it for you. Whichever way you choose, the information you gather will be extremely valuable for your business.

    Even if you’ve done a competitive analysis in the past, it’s best to run the research again every six months or so to make sure that there aren’t any unknown sharks out there nipping at your heels. That’s why we recommend getting into the practice of outsourcing this task using the SOP so that you can get it done regularly without sucking up your own precious time.

    Steps for Completing the Competitive Analysis Template

    The process in the SOP template above entails plugging your keywords into Google while using a special Google address that doesn’t skew the results based on your location or previous searches. This is all explained clearly in the SOP’s step-by-step instructions.

    Afterwards, you will record the websites that come up within the first 15 positions in Google. You’ll then evaluate each of these sites using a free tool that will help you determine how strong of a competitor those sites are and how difficult it will be to outrank them in Google.

    How to find google competitors template blog image

    You’ll be working with some great, free tools like the Moz toolbar (non-affiliate). Using these tools, you can find key information like your competitor website’s domain authority to determine how strong the website is. These tools allow you to peek behind the curtain of your competitors, rather than having to guess on your own.

    The SOP download includes simple step-by-step instructions that anyone with basic computer skills will be able to manage. It will take you or your freelancer through all of the steps necessary to finish a competitive analysis and uses only free tools to collect the information that you need.

  • Design
  • HOW TO UPDATE YOUR APP UI WITHOUT THE HEADACHE

    After your app is on the market, the job is far from over. You probably already know that with every new update to iOS or Android that you have to make sure all functions of your app continue to work. While making sure that the functions work is a critical part in continuing to work on your app, make sure that you’re not neglecting the design or user interface. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the the designs in the app market evolve and how easy it can be to start to look outdated.

    One reason why you may update the user interface of your app is to match your website or vice versa. This is really crucial to your branding so that you are users understand that there is a connection between your website and also your social media sites. Make an obvious visual connection between all of your marketing content and your product.

    When updating your app UI, don’t neglect to also take a look at your app icon. It may also need to be given a facelift to connect with your slick new brand image. Get the App Icon Creative Brief here.

    PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION TO MARKET DESIGN TRENDS

    Having an outdated design will affect your brand image more than you may realize. Because the market is so saturated with millions of apps, you must make sure that you don’t lose out on a large part portion of your audience because you are turning them off with your design.

    Often a lot of the cost of developing an app goes into the code and backend which is something that the user never sees. The user is not going to appreciate how many hours you spend to create an algorithm that works flawlessly. They only care about how the app looks and feels as they use it in their day-to-day life. This is why the design is so crucial though it is often overlooked by a lot of app companies. Putting a new face on your existing app can help improve your downloads and can give your users the feeling of more value when they download your app.

    If you are not only considering updating your app UI, but the UX as well, you should consider doing these things in separate updates. Sometimes doing both of these things at once can overwhelm the user and they may feel too confused to continue using your app which can cause a decline in app retention. There are examples of companies in the past that have updated the UI very gradually in order to prevent the audience from feeling scared and not using your product anymore.

    eBay is a classic example of a website which previously created completely new UI and adjusted the UX all in one update. Their users freaked out and there was major uproar so they quickly reverted back to the original interface and then slowly started implemented the new changes bit by bit so that their users wouldn’t be shocked. This is an important lesson to learn: Always keep your current users in mind when creating dramatic changes to your products.

    UPDATING APP UI VS. UPDATING APP UX

    When it comes to updating the app UI, the best practice is to first leave the majority of the buttons and functionality in the same relative location on the screen and just change the style first before making any large adjustment to the UX.

    The SOP that you can download above makes this process much simpler by providing your designer with steps that they’ll need to take in order to update app. This will take a lot of the headache out of the full process and allow you to focus more on the design instead of on telling your designer what to do. If you currently have ideas for how you imagine your updated app to look, you can add them to the SOP in the spaces provided.

    Also make sure to check out your competitors apps on the market and even some of the top apps in your category in order to get inspired with the design trends.

    Updating your app UI is an ongoing process and you should consider doing touchups and design reviews on a regular basis. Doing this at least once every six months will help you to make sure that all of your development work to create a great app hasn’t gotten lost on the user.

  • Content Creation
  • UPLOAD PODCAST EPISODES TO AMAZON S3

    Once you’ve recorded your podcast, the a job isn’t done yet. There are quite a few bits and pieces that you have to remember to add before you upload new episodes to Amazon or wherever you host your podcast.

    By now you should have already created your podcast cover art, but if you haven’t you can download the SOP for that here. Make sure that your cover art is ready to go before you upload your first episode to the servers.

    GATHERING THE INFORMATION TO UPLOAD YOUR PODCAST

    Before you upload your podcast, you need add your podcast information into iTunes. The information you need to add are things like the title, album artist and other metadata that will be pulled from the MP3 that you upload. This information will be seen by your listeners and subscribers of your podcast.

    Most of you will also have a page on your website that contains information about your podcast. It’s important to keep the titles and other information the same on both so as not to confuse your listeners. If you’re interested in creating podcast show notes, you can take a look at our Podcast Show Notes Template.

    If you’re using WordPress, you can use a plugin called “PowerPress” that will help you publish your podcast once you’ve uploaded it to your hosting server. This is simple plugin that also pulls the information you write in your blog post show notes into the iTunes description of your podcast.

    One of the things you need to have prepared for uploading other than your podcasts cover art, is the MP3 file of your episode which should be 100 MB or less so that it doesn’t take your listeners a long time to download it. If your MP3 file is much larger than that, you should definitely consider shrinking it down so it’ll be easier for your audience to access it as well as take up less space on their phone.

    Once you have the audio file in the correct size, you will edit some of the text content that appears in the information section of the files, such as the title of the podcast. This title should clearly explain what the current episode is about. Hollie and I have experimented with the titles of our podcast Two White Chicks in China and found that stating the topic directly is better than creating a clever title that sounds cool. People just want to know exactly what the content is instead of having a clever sounding title.

    Another piece of content that you’ll need is the show name of your podcast. Make sure that you use the exact same show name for every episode. You may also want to include a brief description of the episode in your metadata. To be honest I don’t know where this shows up, but I imagine that it helps with the keyword search in iTunes so it’s best to just stick a few lines in there to take advantage of this space.

    QUICK CHECKLIST FOR NECESSARY PODCAST INFO

    1. Title of the current podcast episode
    2. Episode number
    3. Shortened name of the podcast (example: Two White Chicks in China podcast would have a shortened name of “TWCC”)
    4. Creators of the podcast (this will appear as the artist/composer in the MP3’s metadata)
    5. Official show name of the podcast (this will appear as the “album name” in the MP3’s metadata)
    6. Episode summary (Write a few sentences to describe what topics are covered in this podcast)
    7. Podcast Cover Art

    You can upload your podcast to any hosting server, but the instructions provided in this SOP will give you a clear step-by-step procedure for how you or your freelancer can upload episodes to the Amazon S3 server. You can modify this SOP if you are hosting somewhere else before passing it to your freelancer.

  • Research
  • FIND YOUR PODCAST’S TOP 5 COMPETITORS

    There are so many great podcasts on the market, so it’s no longer just enough to upload your podcast and then walk away and hope that people listen and subscribe to it. It’s important for you to know what other podcasts are out there that might be competing for a similar audience that you hope are listening to your own podcast.

    Based on my own experience of listening to podcasts I’ve often searched for one topic, for example “true crime”- that’s my podcast weakness. iTunes will give you other related podcasts that you can you can also check out. You may call it ‘judging a book by its over’ but even before I’ve listen to a podcast I’ve been turned on or turned off by the podcast cover art or by the level of information that the podcast gives me in the metadata. Look at your competitors and decided what you find attractive or off-putting about your competitor’s podcast.

    VALIDATING YOUR PODCAST IDEA USING COMPETITORS

    Identifying your competitors is also a way to validate your podcast idea. If there are no other competitors on the market today, it is more likely that this is a sign that your topic is not really something that people are interested listening to. If you’re truly passionate about the topic of your podcast however, don’t just use the lack of competitors to decide whether or not to do the podcast. This is not ultimately the deciding factor. The point is not to be scared off by the presence of competitors because it means that there truly is a market interested in this topic.

    That brings us to another key idea that you need to consider when looking at your competitors- who exactly is your target market? There’s a lot of information online which will help you to define your target audience, and you can use that to find the podcast which you believe have the same target audience. These are most likely your competitors.

    LEARN FROM COMPETING PODCAST BUT STAY UNIQUE

    Something that you should consider when you look at your competitors is that they may not necessarily be in the right. What I mean by this is that just because your competitors are following a certain format, you don’t necessarily have to copy the same script or set-up of those competitors. Let’s go back to my true crime podcast obsession. Some of those podcasts are narrated by a single person while others are acted out as the narrators recreate the true crime events. Both of these are successful formats and there may be other ways out there to present that would work as well. The purpose of studying your competitors is to collect ideas and make adjustments to find that unique offering that your audience will love.

    As Hollie mentioned before, identifying your competitors will help you to be aware of what kind of metadata they provide in the podcast marketplace that attracts their audience. Taking a look at the title of their podcast, the description and the cover art will help you to understand how your podcast fits into the market. In addition to that you’ll want to take some time to listen to some of your competitors podcasts to see if the actual content has elements that you are missing or is missing elements that you have so that you can figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your content.

    Identifying these competitors will also give you an idea for what types of advertising opportunities may be available once you’re ready for making money. Considering these other podcasts have similar target audiences, you may also want to contact some of these podcasts in the future for affiliate marketing.

    SOP FOR FINDING YOUR COMPETITORS

    You can pass the SOP provided above directly to someone else to help you identify your podcast’s top 5 competitors. Giving this task to somebody else will give you fresh eyes (in this case “ears”) on your own podcast and inspire you with ways that you can continue to improve. The SOP gives step-by-step instructions for how to use keywords to identify your competitors and will ask the person who is completing this task to sample those podcasts in order to find the elements that they like and don’t like about your competitors. Finding this information will help you to improve your podcast which should help you to reach a wider audience as you develop your show.

  • Design
  • PODCAST COVER ART THAT STANDS OUT

    Everyone and their mother has a podcast these days. You can find topics ranging from fixing your car to breast-feeding and of course much, much more. Podcasts are a great way to absorb information while you’re doing something else and as a podcast creator you know that most of your marketing is done through audio. Since there are lots of podcasts out there and the market is getting more saturated, you should think about spending a little extra time on your podcast cover art.

    What you should remember while when designing your podcast cover is that you should use images you use are related to your podcast. That might seem really obvious but this is a great with you to play on the name or brand of your podcast.

    For example, podcasters who interview successful or skilled people such as Tim Ferris have an image or photograph of themselves as Tim Ferris is his own brand. There are also podcasts such as those that I myself listen to like the Myths and Legends podcast that has an image of a castle on the cover art.

    Having a great image will definitely help your podcast to stand out in iTunes or wherever else you upload your podcast. Remember that often this image is just seen as a small thumbnail on people’s phones so you want to choose a graphic that is simple enough that it is clear when it’s really small.

    Likewise, you want to make sure that it looks good when it’s large because in some marketplaces you will see a full size image. You want a good balance between being simple and being informative enough to explain what it is that your podcast is all about. Keep in mind this is also probably the only image that your listeners will see related to your podcast so keep it general enough to cover any topic that you might discuss on your show.

    Because most of your listeners will only ever see a thumbnail of your podcast cover art, try not to add too much text.  Also try to limit your font types to two or less so that it doesn’t confuse or detract from the image of your cover art.

    If you’re not a designer, in order to look more professional you might want to outsource this task so that people see your podcast as professional. Often people will judge your podcast content based off of your cover art rather than taking the time to read the description of what your podcast is about. Make sure your designer adheres to all of the requirements outlined by iTunes or wherever you planning to upload your podcast.

    The SOP provided outlines all of these requirements. You can pass this document directly to your designer or freelancer.

  • Design
  • CREATE PERFECT APP STORE SCREENSHOTS

    For better or worse, people today consume much more digital content on a day-to-day basis than even five years ago. This often means that we are all overwhelmed with data and content being thrown at us on a regular basis. People take less time to actually read the content of articles or product descriptions and instead they generally look first at the pictures to gauge whether the information is worth their time before spending time to read.

    People are influenced faster through visual communication and so your apps store screenshots are a great way to get their attention and tell them your message without them actually having to read anything.

    SCREENSHOTS OVER APP DESCRIPTION

    If you’re anything like me, and are attracted to shiny, pretty things, app screenshots are one of the most important things that will persuade me to download an app. Often the most brightly colored images will entice me and in general I’m heavily influenced by details and interesting graphics that I see in the screenshots.

    According to research only 2% of people actually read the full app description and many people actually ignored so your screenshots are extremely important in order to get people to download your app. It’s important to include the features in your app. Consider the features that your competitors have and those that are unique to your app. Highlight your apps truly great qualities and convince your audience that out of all the apps on the market, yours is the most essential.

    MAKE YOUR SCREENSHOTS AS A MINI-TUTORIAL

    You can also use the space as a mini tutorial to show your users how easy your functions are to use. People will often judge the quality of your app based on the screenshots as well. If your screenshots are unattractive and the design is outdated then they’ll be more likely to think that your app is worth less and be less willing to purchase it, especially if it’s a paid application where they can’t see the actual app until they buy it in the App Store.

    App screenshots are also an incredibly important opportunity to localize your app. In both iTunes and Google Play, you’re allowed to upload different screenshots for all major languages. As most developers now upload screenshots with a bit of text around them explaining the features, you can change this text into different languages. This is a simple way to have a much wider reach in the App Store for people who do not speak English.

    LOCALIZING YOUR SCREENSHOTS

    Even if the app itself is in English only, you can still localize the explanatory text in the screenshots. In our experience, we saw a massive download increase (400%+) after localizing this text without even updating the actual app’s interface into other languages. It also helps to translate the app description, but even just doing the text in the screenshot images will help quite a bit.

    When creating your screenshots, you want to make sure that the dimensions match the requirements in the App Store. In the past, it was popular just to take a screen a literally take a screenshot of your app on your device and then use that post that directly to the app store. Currently the design trend is to have the screenshot embedded into a larger image that has a background and a space for a short sentence or a few words to describe each app function. This has many advantages, not least of which is that it saves you the hassle of taking screenshots in multiple resolutions. Instead you can just chop the border area in order to fit the resolutions that you need.

    This space around the screenshots also allows you opportunity to put other kinds of text, such as awards that you had that your app has won or positive reviews that people have given. This also encourages the user to download your app.

    When you are creating your screenshots, use colors and fonts that are consistent with your app design. Also make sure to utilize all five screenshots allowed in iTunes. Google Play allows even more than 5 for your users to peruse. Keep in mind however, that most users only look at the first one or two screenshots so make sure you put your app’s key functions first.

    Before creating or asking somebody else to create your screenshots, you might want to get inspired by a checking out the top apps in your category and seeing what they’ve done with their screenshots.

    The SOP above provides detailed and current information about how to create a screenshot and the requirements from the App Store. You can pass this SOP directly to your designer and they will use it as a creative brief to create the screenshots for your app.

  • SOP Library
  • INSTRUCTIONS FOR UX TESTING YOUR APP

    User testing your app is a critical way to evaluate the design, content and usability of your application. Even if you don’t have a large budget for market research, you can still gain valuable suggestions and ideas while discovering errors and potential confusing sections of your app just based on a few user tests.

    If you have been working on the development of an app for a long time, it’s very easy to ignore or miss small mistakes in the design. You may not realize that there is a flaw in the app’s navigation. For this reason, you should ideally have the user testing completed by someone who has never seen the app before. There are plenty of websites out there that offer free and paid user testing. You could also have friends test your app, however you should be aware that these people may be somewhat biased. Even if you have a small budget, try to have at least one person who doesn’t know you user test the app.

    You may be able to watch while someone is user-testing your app. This can give you some amazing insights into your app’s user experience. In this case, it’s extremely important that you keep silent and simply watch. Your instinct may be to help them if they have questions or issues, but try your best not to interfere with the testers’ experience. Hold your tongue and don’t give out any hints- let them figure it out. After all, you won’t be able to help your real users when they download the app themselves.

    You can gain so much insight if you watch as an impartial and silent observer as your user-tester navigates through the app. Even just watching the way that their fingers move on the screen, or how long it takes them to navigate from one screen to another is extremely helpful in streamlining your design.

    User-testing isn’t a one time event. It should be done on a regular basis and it should be consistent from version to version. You should strive to ask similar questions to one batch of reviewers versus another so that you can compare how your app has improved or deteriorated over time.

    For those of you who have never asked someone to user-test your app before, the SOP download above includes an explanation of the test and a set of suggested questions you can ask your user-tester to answer about your app.

    You can give your tester the SOP directly and ask them to follow the step-by-step instructions. When they finish the SOP, they will follow the directions and give you back a short report including information ranging from issues about navigation to their opinion on the design and colors used in the app.

    Before having someone take part in a user-test, you might want to set some specific goals for what you intend to gain from the test. For example, you may want to ask them to complete a specific task in your app, such as creating an account or editing a photo. Keep in mind what the main goal of your app is. Are you trying to generate revenue? Are you more interested in building your membership database? You can customize the SOP by adding a few of your own requirements.

    The ideal test will also include a user who is part of your target market. If your app is a game for children ages 10 to 14 you should try to find some kids who will can test app. Try to find at least a few user-testers that fit your target market’s profile, as those are ultimately the people that will be using your app.

    Ready to get started? Even if you have no experience with user-testing, it’s a super simple process to collect this data using the SOP provided at the top of this post.