Your app description – the detailed text you read about an app on the App Store or Google Play – plays a key role in making your app stand out from the crowd and encouraging someone to download it. It’s wise to spend time making it sing.
Ideally, you should start writing the app description at the start of your project and not when you’re about to approve the app to go live. Why? Initially it will be your vision. If you are able to describe your app before it has even been built you can keep referring back to it as the project develops.
An early draft may also highlight any misunderstandings between you and your developer that can be ironed out before the hard graft begins. And of course, the app description, like your app, will develop over the course of the project. Therefore, by putting in some time and effort comfortably before launch it’s possible to significantly boost your chances of being found through search, and that’s the first step towards getting a download.
Presentation is important
First impressions influence whether someone downloads your app or jumps to the next one. To help potential customers decide whether your app is worth downloading your app description has to be enticing.
So how do you craft a compelling app description that nails the essence of your app and persuades people to give it a try? This simple step-by-step guide will show you exactly how to do it.
Step 1 – Thinking about your app
The first thing to do is think about what you want your app to do. You need to think about what a prospective user should know. Use the following four questions as your initial guide:
- What does your app do?
- What problem does it solve?
- What is it unique about?
- Why should someone download your app rather than something else?
As you do this try to put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. Consider what would catch their eye. Write down some notes and try to sort your observations into a rough order of importance. Keep the most important things you want to say at the top of the list. Refer back to this as the app develops and refine your app description accordingly.
Get a second opinion
As the client, you’re going to be very close to your app, so close, in fact, that you may not be able to see the wood for the trees. That’s why it’s vital to get some other perspectives, ideally from people without a vested interest in the app’s success.
You will find that other people find different things worthy of note and you’ll want to stir some of this feedback into your list. If a lot of people seem to be raving about a specific feature then it’s probably something you want to work into the description.
This exercise might reinforce the list you’ve already drawn up, or it might prompt a re-ordering. Try not to let your personal feelings overrule the crowd. It is after all the crowd you’re selling to, not yourself.
Step 2 – Competition and keywords
Size up the competition
Look at apps of a similar genre in the app stores and analyse their descriptions. It’s important that your app description is unique, but you might find the odd word or a stylistic touch that appeals.
Compare the descriptions with your experience of the apps. How do they match up? This exercise could spark a few more ideas about how best to present your app. It could also spark some ideas for additional keywords that you want to use.
Impact on search
A good app description isn’t just about persuading people to download your app. It can also boost your chances of appearing in the search results. You’ll want to sprinkle important keywords into your description naturally. Don’t be tempted to crowbar them in. Readers will be jarred by unnatural word insertions, but keep them in mind when you write.
It is worth noting that for the App Store there is a separate keywords field where you have 100 characters to play with (see below).
Although Apple’s search algorithm doesn’t draw on your app description, search engines, like Google, do. That means you do need to consider using keywords in your app description as it will impact on your position in search engine results.
In simple terms, you want to use words and phrases that people might type into a search box in order to find your app. You could research using Google Trends or the Google Ads Keyword Planner. Even beginning to type terms into the search box in the Play Store and seeing the suggestions that pop up can give you some ideas about what people are looking for.
We’re not going to look at how to optimise your app store product page in too much detail here, that’s a whole topic in itself.
But you should have a roughly prioritised list of things that you want to include in your app description and some important keywords.
Step 3 – Time to write
Take your opportunity
If someone is taking the time to stop and read your app description, then you have an opportunity to tell them why they should download it. You need to cut straight to the point. Like an elevator pitch, you need to be succinct and persuasive, because you only have a short time to convince them.
For app landing pages in the app stores, there’s generally only a sentence or two displayed by default. Beyond that, potential customers will have to tap “More” to read on.
The biggest limitations are on the smallest screens, but the vast majority of people browse and download apps directly on their Android or iOS devices.
- In Apple’s App Store you have 255 characters to play with.
- With Google’s Play Store, you have just 80 characters in the app metadata field.
- Both app stores have a limit of 4,000 characters for the full description but, unlike Apple, Google allows richer formatting and special characters.
The first sentence or two is the most important thing you will write.
That’s called promo text: it appears at the top of the description and is up to 170 characters long for iOS and just two lines long for Android.
The title and the screenshots should convey a general idea of what your app is about. You need to immediately appeal to the reader and tell them why your app is what they’re looking for.
There are a couple of tried and tested copywriting rules that you should bear in mind here:
KISS – Keep it simple stupid.
- Don’t be tempted to use jargon, it can cause confusion and turn people off.
- Cut out superfluous words, there’s no room for filler. Don’t waste characters repeating your title.
- Cut to the chase.
WIIFM – What’s in it for me?
- What can the customer expect?
- What will they get, learn, or experience if they download your app?
- Make sure that the value of your app comes across clearly.
A deeper dive
You’ve crafted an enticing opening that paints a picture of what people can expect if they download your app, now you need to flesh it out. Explain all of the key features.
Apply newspaper rules and expand on the details of your app with the most important things first and the least important last, following your prioritised list.
If it’s going to do the job that you want, then your description has to read well. The text should flow naturally when you read it.
- Use a spell check and make sure there are no typos in there.
- Experiment with switching paragraphs and sentences around until you get the desired effect.
- Read it out aloud.
This is a good way to catch mistakes and awkward bits. If something feels off, or jarring, to you, then it will probably feel that way to any other reader. Trust that gut instinct and change it.
Don’t be tempted to exaggerate. Hyperbole will set unrealistic expectations and you’ll end up with bad reviews.
Be honest about your app and don’t try to hide things. For example, don’t advertise as free if you actually require a subscription.
Good to know: You don’t have to use all 4,000 characters. Some apps can be neatly summarised in three or four paragraphs; others will need more words to fully explain.
If you’ve included everything that was on your list and there’s room to spare, then finish with a final call to action (CTA). A quick recap and a last appeal to download your app can be effective. The important thing is to avoid writing on for the sake of it. Don’t pad your app description out to meet the limit.
Attractive text layout
Think about how the text looks on the page. You should take some time to organise your information in a digestible way.
No one likes a wall of text.
- Get some white space in there with short paragraphs.
- Vary your sentence length.
- Use sub-headings to divide it into sections.
Another great way to present a lot of information in a few words and break up the look of the page is to use bullet point lists. Think about the following:
- Don’t make it too long, five points is enough.
- The most important points should be the first two on the list, with the third most important listed last.
- You’re probably going to skip this point.
- You’re definitely not reading this one.
- Make sure each point opens with a different word and letter.
Most people will read the first couple of points in a list and then skip to the last one. If points look very similar, perhaps they start with the same first word or two, then people tend to merge them or skip them. If you have a lot of points that you want to cover then split them into two separate bullet point lists and divide them with a paragraph.
Testimonials, social media, and cross promotion
At the end of your app description, you might consider including testimonials and some relevant links. You have to think about the credibility of the source and the likely impact on the reader. Upon occasion, a review will sum up a feature or aspect of your app lyrically and concisely. Used properly, quotes can expand on your app description with important extra details or highlight the best bits neatly.
It can be a good idea to list some links to your social media accounts where prospective and existing customers can find more information, share thoughts about your app, and engage with you directly. Please note that the links won’t be clickable.
You should certainly include a link to your website and a support link where customers can ask you questions or explain problems (something you’d rather they didn’t do in the reviews).
Step 4 – When it’s done
Firstly, well done if you have kept with this. You are almost there and the time spent reading this will enhance your app description.
Keep it current
The app description isn’t written in stone. You’ll want to update it regularly. Whenever you update the app or game, you should update the description to reflect the new changes.
You’ll also want to tweak it based on the feedback you get. If, for example, a lot of people post the same question in reviews and comments, then perhaps it’s worth addressing it in the description. You may also get a new review that you want to add to your testimonial section. Or perhaps you’ll think of a clever turn of phrase, or a better way of summing your app up. If you think of any improvement you could make, then go ahead and do it.
Step 5 – Wrapping it up
Put energy into a great app description. If you’ve worked hard on your app, then don’t scrimp on the final presentation. Gather together all the compelling reasons to download it and wrap them up in a neat and enticing package.
In a nutshell, this is how to write an exciting App Store description:
- Start with your research and create that list of features, highlights, and reasons to install.
- Stir in some keywords and desirable phrases to help people find your app.
- Focus on an attention-grabbing introduction and follow up with a measured and honest appraisal of your app’s highlights.
- Tweak, re-order, and edit the description until it flows beautifully.
- Consider the visual impact of your layout.
When it’s done, polish it, and put a plan in place to localise it for more attention in other markets and for regular updates to keep it current.
If you feel you’re not confident that you can make that description sing, then speak to us.