How to write a great app description for the App Store

Posted by | May 30, 2011 | BUZZ, Geek Talk | One Comment
App descriptions compared over devices and device orientations (Fold indicated with the "red line")

After finishing programming our latest greatest app, we were facing the challenge on how to create a persuading app description for the iTune App Store. What we found on the web, was not particularly exciting. It’s why we have put together our own guide:

0. Analyze competitor’s descriptions

Go to your competitor’s apps and check their description to learn what keywords they mention, what claims they have and what is especially good (you should copy these things) and what’s not (you should improve it).

1. Name, icon and company name

The very first thing people see in rankings and in the result list is the icon, name and company name.

Create a simple app name that is easy to remember and short to enter in the search box. You can also think about having a name with an “A” or another early letter of the alphabet to appear at the top of the list. Also, research has shown that users are more likely to click on icons with nice colors (red is bad, because it looks like an error; green is positive; blue is neutral). People also prefer clicking on apps that have a sound or catchy company name.

How people really use the iPhone (graphic by Create With Context)

How people really use the iPhone (graphic by Create With Context)

2. Headline

This article points out that the next big important thing is the headline within your app description. It should be a one line pitch that contains the function of the app written in an exciting style. For our mafia game, Gbanga Famiglia, we have chosen “Become the Mafioso of your neighborhood!“.

Some apps even put the headline on a separate line to emphasize even more.

3. Description above the fold

As you might have noticed, the app store crops the description text after three lines. That’s about 300 characters (with spaces). Make sure that your app is fully explained in this little paragraph because users only see the rest of the description when they click the “More” button.

On different devices (iPhone, iPad, Browser) in different orientations (landscape/portrait), the description is cropped at different positions. It’s why it’s always a good idea to check out the result on all devices.

App descriptions compared over devices and device orientations (Fold indicated with the "red line")

App descriptions compared over devices and device orientations (Fold indicated with the "red line")

Discussion of the screenshots above:

  • The Gbanga app (in Browser on a desktop computer) description explains everything above the fold.
  • SimCity Deluxe for iPad (on iPad in landscape mode) has an interesting approach to advertise it’s sale in the first line even before the app description. I guess they can afford this because of their strong brand.
  • Angry Birds Seasons HD (on iPad in portrait mode) has a quite redundant first line (headline? title?) and an entertaining quote of their game.
  • Facebook (on iPhone) explains quickly what the app is about. Thanks to the short text, the screen shots are visible partly above the fold.

4. Feature list

For the users that further look into your app description, it helps a lot to list the main features of your app. Especially, if you have an app in a very competitive field, an extensive list with the unique selling points (USP) is always a plus. Because the app store does not allow any formatting or HTML markup, simply use dashes (or similar plain text bullets) on separate lines like, for instance, Gowalla did for their app:

With Gowalla, it's easy to:

+ Share photos of your favorite places and events
+ Add highlights and recommendations for your friends to see
+ Create and complete trips around your neighborhood or around the world
+ See what's going on nearby in your city
+ Keep up with your friends' travels


5. Brag

Brag about your awards, nominations and place good user quotes.

6. Mention potential keywords

Add a paragraph that contains your partners, possibly famous brands like Disney, NASA and festivals and conferences you have shown your app at. Also tell more about content that might appear prominently in your app. Also smart is to mention your competitors and why you are better, for example:

“This app is similar to app Y in the sense that it also uses the gyro.”

7. Links

Link to:

  • your social pages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,
  • to the FAQ,
  • to the forum,
  • to potential fan sites which you want to reward for their good work, etc.

We hope this blog post helps you making your app even more successful! Please let us know if you have more ideas and points.

About Matthias

Matthias is a believer in the mixed-reality genre. He tweets on @babalunda and instagrams.

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