Create effective app screenshots

app screenshots

In today’s digital age, steady information flow and social media madness are making it almost impossible to get someone to stay focused on what you want to tell them – even if it’s just about a simple app page. We’re constantly distracted, and we (think we) don’t have the time to sit still and listen or read for a moment. Research suggests that our attention span has reduced to eight seconds.

We are going back to the principle that the first impression counts: you have a bare few seconds to command attention; use them wisely to arouse interest and get the viewer to click, scroll and download.

The importance of app screenshots is communicated in a clear message. Apple’s iTunes has undergone quite a revolution, where app screenshots have pushed app descriptions to the background and taken the front page on the app search, and the app page as well. This is the change from iOS 6 to iOS 7. Now, with iOS 8 in use, Apple continues to focus on imagery rather than text. Same goes for Android.

All of the screenshots are important – and you should fill all five spaces for every device type you support – but that first one really is the most important.

Apple’s own guidelines don’t go into a lot of detail on screenshots. As long as you’ve got one for each device type you support, and your screenshots don’t show any network status bars (you can literally just crop these out) then they’re happy. Leaving it at that is a huge mistake though, due to the way an app’s listing appears in the App Store.

Effectively, on both iPad and iPhone the screenshot is the only thing a potential users sees before they click through to your app, other than the name and icon, It’s also the biggest asset in terms of space, and by face the most flexible.

App screenshots should not be selected randomly. The best practice is to pick those screenshots that best explain your app’s purpose.

Another way to approach app screenshots is by asking yourself the following questions:

• What problem does my app solve?
• What is unique and special about it?

If you can answer these questions visually with your app screenshots, you’re on to a winner and half of the work is done. Should you struggle to find the answer to these questions at hand, let’s dig further.
The most commonly used screenshot is the “what your app does” capture. Typically, it illustrates the main screen of the app, with an understandable amount of content so that the user can evaluate whether it is a good fit.

Other interesting captures are how your app is set up and how it works. Including a screenshot of your menu overview or additional features can help someone decide to choose your app. You must ensure, however, that your screenshot remains easily understandable.

Captions are absolutely vital in the new App Store, since the one on the first screenshot is the only text you get other than the name. That caption is equivalent to the text of an AdWords ad, or the one-liner on a poster on the tube. Write the caption at the top, and make it readable from search, even without the preview window being opened. Make it count!

Screenshots are a major factor in the download decisions of your potential users, and a couple of hours spent in Photoshop can make an enormous difference to the quality and attractiveness of the screens you put on your App Store listing.

Getting the first screenshot right rather than simply uploading the first grab off your iPhone is one of the easiest ways to make a difference to both your app’s CTR in search and the conversion rate on your App Store page, so make sure you put the time in on this – the potential benefits are nothing short of astounding.