October 13, 2017

Attract users attention in app stores: how to design great icons, screenshots and videos for your app?

How to make sure your app is just too tempting not to download it? Well, the great design may be the answer you are looking for.

Today, 48% of users admit they found an app by browsing an app store – whether Apple App Store or Google Play. Another 33% download apps thanks to in-app ads and 20% of users do it because they see a YouTube ad. And in all these places, what is the most important thing that grabs users attention? Of course, the graphic design.

Although you may think that ASO (App Store Optimization) techniques are based on keywords, descriptions, and easy-to-remember name, in fact, as the first impression counts, app icons, screenshots, and video previews are exactly as important. Or maybe even more crucial – after all you don’t expect to find a great UI inside the app if its icon is awful. And if you were to choose two apps, which one would you consider first – the one which has a great icon or screenshots or the one that looks like its graphic designer was an inexperienced junior?

Of course, designing a great icon or a video is not a piece of cake. You’ll need a great concept and pay attention to details. But it isn’t that difficult either, if you know the basic rules. That’s why we prepared an easy guide which gathers the most important tips on how to design app icons, screenshots, and video previews.


The icon is the first touchpoint between a potential user and your app. While browsing an app store, users can see only the app’s name and icon. And as pictures attract more attention and are easier to notice than text, they may be your best chance to make a user click to read more about your app… or skip it.

So how to create a beautiful and encouraging app icon? The most important rules include:

1. Scalability – the icon is shown in different places, not only an app store browser. It is also visible on user’s screen, for example, making the app encouraging or discouraging to come back. That’s why it is important to design the icon with scalability in mind – ranging from small sizes like 29 × 29 pixels all the way up to 1024 × 1024 pixels. Don’t make it over-packed with details but keep it detailed enough to look well in 1024×1024 resolution.

2. Recognizability – your app design has to resonate with the target users to attract their attention. The shapes, colors, and ideas of an app icon all depends on it. Try different forms and combinations of colors to make an encouraging picture, which presents your idea well. Don’t make it overcomplicated though – the app icon may be the only thing user will remember about your app so make it easy to remember.

3. Consistency – do your app icon have a specific design element which is unique to it? Or a combination of colors which is specific to your app? It may be a good idea to use it in the different parts of your design.
Do you plan a series of apps? Keep the same pattern in all of them to make them consistent.

4. Uniqueness – there are dozens of apps with tick symbol, or a triangle, or a speech balloon. All of them look very similar and thus are difficult to remember. Don’t make this mistake. Do your homework and conduct research in app stores before designing your icon. Go for symbols that are unique and innovative – they do grab users attention.

5. No words – do you want to include an app name in the icon? Don’t! Unless it is very well justified, doing so only makes your app over-packed. Nobody will ever read this text – it is too small and you have a lot of space in your app name field, right next to the icon to write it down.


OK, so the user gets interested and clicks on your app icon. What’s next? He/She will either download your app straight away (success!) or need some more proof to decide. The proof they need consist of four very important parts: description, reviews (check how to get your app reviews right here), screenshots and video preview.

Let’s start with screenshots. Their role is to demonstrate the functionality, look & feel of your app. They are very welcomed by users because a majority of them will not read through the whole app description to find out, what your app is all about.

So how to design great app screenshots? Here are five basic rules:

1. Use the right image dimensions – the basic rule: follow platforms’ guidelines. If your app is designed for iOS, you just need to upload a 5.5” screenshot asset and it will be automatically downsized to match all the other iPhone screen sizes.

If you choose Android, remember about the following rules:

  • if you have an app for different devices, you need to upload a specific screenshot for each device,
  • images must be in JPEG or 24-bit PNG,
  • dimension from 320px to 3840px,
  • the maximum dimension of your screenshot can’t be more than twice as long as the minimum dimension.

2. Make use of all available screenshots – in Google Play store the minimum of 2 screenshots is required and the maximum number of them is 8; in Apple App Store you can add up to 5 screenshots. Needless to say that you should make use of all the available space to show your app to users – after all, screenshots are something they will see before the longer description (and often instead of it).

3. Describe your app’s main features – your splash screen may be a small piece of art but if you want a user to see it live, after they actually downloaded your app, make sure the first screenshot shows your app’s main feature instead. Other screenshots should also show functionalities, preferably in use. And if you update your app, don’t forget to include some screenshots showing the newest version.

4. Tell a story – screenshots are not an onboarding guide. They should show the best of your app and aren’t an instruction how to actually use it. A good idea is to treat them as a marketing campaign – each screenshot leads a person to the next one, telling some interesting story and increasing the temptation to immerse into the app’s world.

5. Adjust the language – if you plan to release different language versions of your app, make sure you add screenshots in different languages so that a user from a different country can easily get to know what your app is all about, too. English version is universal but if you truly want your app to grow in non-English-speaking parts of the world, you have to start from the beginning – your app store landing page.


Why make an effort and create a video for your app anyway? Well, the statistics prove that app store videos increase user acquisition, retention, and LTV and reduce uninstall rate. According to TUNE, apps with videos get higher ratings. Previews are also the best way to show a potential user what your app is all about – and in the best possible way: in action.

So how to create an effective video preview? Follow these 4 rules:

1. Make it short – Apple allows only videos which last no more than 30 seconds. Google lets you upload longer videos, but no longer than 2 minutes. That’s why you should pay strict attention to time limits and plan your preview well. A good storyboard and a time schedule will be a great starting point.

2. Follow the platform-specific guidelines – in Apple App Store all videos must be created specifically for iOS while in Google Play you can easily add the video you already published on your YouTube channel. What’s more, on Google Play you can use the same video for any type of mobile device, but for Apple you have to load different videos for iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Apple also doesn’t allow live action footage and mixing different animations.

3. Show the best first – users’ attention is the biggest at the very beginning of the video and decreases with time. That’s why you should start with the most important functionality and general aspects of your app – if you wait for too long, you may not get a chance to show them.

4. More visuals than sounds – people often watch videos on their smartphones in public places and thus with sound off. So if you plan to explain a lot in speaking, remember to add subtitles or text in your video. And don’t overload it with words – let the visual part speak for itself.


The visual part of app promotion proves to be as important (or even more important) when it comes to users’ app choices. That’s why you should pay close attention to details such as app icon, screenshots available in app stores, and video previews. Remember to follow platforms’ guidelines – they should be a starting point of any app project. And find a way to stand out from the crowd – doing something differently and better will make your app unforgettable.

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