Google has revealed a new tool for app creatives, allowing for adaptive launcher icons. With this, developers can set up their apps’ icons to display as square or circular images, better matching the device it’s being viewed on.
As companies roll out new software, it opens new opportunities for developers to explore features that will benefit an app’s conversion rate and what it means for the future of mobile apps.
When Apple released its public beta of iOS 10.3, the biggest buzz introduced was developers getting the opportunity to respond to reviews. Not only can users interact with developers, it gives the developers the chance to improve conversion rates. However, many are taking note of another function hidden in the update.
Developers noticed a new function in the SDK that allows for multiple app icons to be added to each application. Apple released the new instance method that developers can use to specify what they want as the primary app icon and what would be the alternate icons. Apps would not need to go through the App Store for an update, and instead would change in real time.
To understand the use for multiple app icons, think of a weather app. Depending on what weather is outside, users would notice the icon reflecting the weather instead of having to open the app. The idea of real time changes has been limited to when physically using the app, not when it’s closed. If an app’s icon could change, the weather would be reflected on the app’s icon while closed on the home screen. Developers could change icons during the holidays without issuing an update, giving an app a fresh look to increase conversion rates.
Steven Troughton-Smith, an Irish programmer that mostly focuses on iPhone software, reported that for the app’s icon to change, the app will ask for permission to the change the icon. Presently, the current app icon must be visible on the screen to change, and it is unclear if permission will be asked every time the icon is going to change or just once.
Despite Apple introducing app icon changes to iOS 10.3, Google introduced a feature similar that allows developers to run tests to better optimize the most effective graphics for an app. Google calls this optimization A/B tests, which allow developers to use published apps and test variants against the current version in the store to see which performs best.
These tests can be run as global experiments, which only look at graphics, or localized experiments, which account for text and graphics. Developers must run the test themselves by creating an experiment to target information and specific attributes. Once the experiment has been run, they can review the results and apply any necessary changes, which usually results in more downloads of the app.
Introducing multiple app icons is the next logical step for Apple. iOS 10.3 shifts the focus toward the developers’ side to increase app conversion rates and downloads. The newest software update will help developers increase download rates to apps, and the new feature seems like the next logical step for the App Store to take.
The holidays are a prime time for developers to update their creative assets on the App Store and Google Play. As we approach the end of the year and the impending App Store shutdown, be sure to take the time for a quick app update in this busy season – it can ultimately be worth a lot.
App icons and screenshots have been an integral element of conversion optimization ever since the App Store first debuted. Having a crisp, appealing and evocative app icon can make all the difference when users browse through the App Store’s home and search pages. After all, there are millions of apps out there, so yours should stand out.
Similarly, screenshots are crucial for converting users and communicating the core features of your app. As you update the features of your app, you can also update your screenshots to communicate those new features to your users quickly and efficiently.
As the holidays approach, developers have multiple opportunities to update both the features and the presentation of an app in the App Store.
Many app developers choose to implement new features or promotions over the holiday season. Shopping apps, for example, often run deals or promotions. Many games run specials on in-app purchases, or create unique events that have users coming back to the game. See Pokémon GO’s Halloween update, for instance.
When your app runs a promotion for the holidays, it is a crucial moment for increasing conversion and bringing back lapsed uses who dropped off of your app. This, coupled with the excess of free time around the holidays, makes the winter period perfect for drawing users in.
You will want to broadcast your promotions loudly – Use your screenshots to show off your promotion with an updated image featuring both a picture of the promotion and a quick text callout drawing users to it.
Even if your app is not undergoing a holiday-specific update, it is still in your best interest to update your app’s icon for the holidays. This has several effects. First, it shows users that you are on top of updating your app. When users download an app, they want to know that it will continue to be supported into the future.
Second, this opens you up to any promotions that Apple or Google may run over the holiday period. Oftentimes, apps that have relevant features are promoted around holidays. Dating apps, for example, get the spotlight around Valentine’s Day. Travel apps, shopping apps and games are just a few of the types of apps that are more likely to be promoted around the holidays, so update your icon to a holiday version to show Apple and Google that you’re doing all you can to get the holiday spotlight. After all, your users aren’t the only ones who want to see that your app is still being updated; Apple and Google tend to promote apps that get more frequent updates, too.
With a simple update to your icon and screenshots, your app can find new life over the holiday season.
Mobile app usage continues to see unprecedented growth, with top app categories such as messaging, shopping, productivity and gaming contributing to the overall increased usage of mobile apps.
The amount of time spent by individuals on digital media is exploding as well. This growth is predominantly being driven by mobile apps.
According to comScore’s 2015 Mobile App Report, total digital media usage over the past two years has grown by 49%, with mobile app usage up 90%.
Companies of all kinds are entering the mobile app space as their customers have made it clear mobile and mobile apps are the preferred medium.
One of the main challenges facing mobile app publishers and marketers is the design considerations given the smaller form factor. These design challenges include both in-app UI/UX and maybe the most important graphical element of the app itself – the app icon.
The app icon is the first image a potential user sees in search results or when browsing the app stores, and is the graphic that resides on their device once installed.
For conversion, for retention and for branding – it is important to get app icon design right!
App Icon Design
Icons play a vital role in the click through rate (CTR), of a mobile app as they give the first impression of the application in the app store.
With the massive amount of mobile applications, digital content and information present in most of our lives, visual elements are more effective at catching users’ attention than written content.
With visual content, the message is literally delivered faster.
That’s why search app store search results, app store listings and the app’s space on the device home screen are all predominantly made of visual elements.
Generally, there are three types of app store discovery use cases:
- looking for an app in a specific category,
- searching for a particular app,
- typing specific keywords as they look for an app but do not have any specific app in mind
When browsing or searching the app stores, the first thing users see is the app icon.
App Icon Design Tips
Reflect on the Core Value of the Application
When it comes to designing a great mobile app icon, start by defining the core value or message you wish to communicate.
Even the color(s) used will play a role in how your app is perceived and received, and who it is for.
Since the icon and app listing should all focus on the core value of your app, app icon designs should align with the other graphical elements of the app (especially any screenshots used in the app store listing).
Keep it Simple
App icons should be extremely clear and simple to understand. Icons are small when viewed on a device – even smaller than many think when in the design phase. Smaller than a dime on most devices.
Avoid designing icons with lots of detail or nuance that make it hard for the user to see and understand. Potential users are looking for the easiest way to get what they want.
Creativity is great – but conversion is how you measure a great app icon design.
Do Not Include Text
These are not hard, fast rules – but rather suggestions based on the top performing apps over time. An app icon is not too far from a brand logo. And like most logos, app icons are usually better received when there is a lack of or a minimal use of text.
On the device home screen, in the search results and in the app listing, the app icon is always accompanied by the app name – your icon does not need text.
Check out our store specific guides here: