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How to Optimize Your App Screenshots to Boost App Downloads

Taya Franchville by ,  ASO Expert Start ASO

Screenshots are one of the most important elements on your app page to help users decide whether or not to download your app. If you are looking to increase your app’s conversion rate, you should definitely start by reviewing and redesigning your app screenshots first.

In this blog, you’ll find a list of 8 tips to help you design the best app screenshots that will encourage users to download your app.


Why are your app screenshots important for ASO?

Screenshots are one of the most visible elements on your app page, and thus are an essential element of ASO. Your app screenshots are the first impression that store visitors have of your app, as they paint a clear picture of what your app is about.

Check out our comprehensive guide to visual asset sizes and best practices on iOS and Google Play

The best app screenshots demonstrate your app’s value proposition and display the most interesting features. Remember that many users would naturally rather look at your app screenshots instead of reading the long description to get a sense of what your app is about.

Tip #1: Screenshots should indicate what your app is about

In general, your app screenshots should:

  • Explain your app’s main features.
  • Give customers an idea of what they can expect when they download your app.
  • Showcase the user experience.
  • Include short titles to better convey your message, ensuring the font is large enough for people can read it.

Some apps choose to show really simple screenshots, only demonstrating the main features and adding some short text. While simple screenshots do help showcase your app’s strengths, they tend to lose visibility in very competitive categories where apps prefer more creative visuals to attract users. So even if you design more simple screenshots, make sure to avoid only including direct screenshots of your app. This is not an ideal practice and shows a lack of effort in aesthetically demonstrating your app’s main features.

App screenshots for Amazon Prime Video on Google Play and Peacock TV on the App Store, USApp screenshots for Amazon Prime Video (Google Play, US) and Peacock TV (App Store, US)

For example, Amazon Prime Video (Google Play, US) has added direct screenshots of the app, displaying only user interface (UI) images. This is not particularly recommended; when store users compare these screenshots to others, they might not see the full value of your app and miss your main unique selling points (USPs).

On the other hand, Peacock TV (App Store, US) - a top competitor of Amazon Prime Video - also utilizes simple screenshot designs while incorporating additional design elements to convey the app’s value proposition. By adding bold texts, a grid design to demonstrate media available on its platform, and utilizing UI colors in its screenshots, Peacock effectively conveys the app quality to store users.

Some other apps create customized posters that display additional visual content as well as text to explain more clearly what the app does. The purpose of this is to reassure your audience and market your app with a catchy and informative description.

App screenshots for Firefox on the App Store, USApp screenshots for Firefox (App Store, US)

Another great way to use screenshots is to demonstrate your app’s main features with a connected-style storyline. Connecting the screenshots with a storyline can really arouse users’ interest and prompt them to browse the following images, giving you more room to pitch your story.

For example, below, Bird (App Store, US) has built a “storyline” into their screenshots to communicate the app’s entire value proposition. This continuous story effect can be made by combining one image into different screenshots to increase your users’ attention and conversion rates.

App screenshots for Bird on the App Store, USApp screenshots for Bird (App Store, US)

Tip #2: Place your most eye-catching screenshots first

When users land on your app page on the App Store or Google Play, they only take a couple of seconds to decide whether to download your app or leave. So it is crucial that you make your first few screenshots count. This is especially true for the App Store, as screenshots appear directly in the search results with the app icon and title. Make your first 3 screenshots eye-catching and clearly depict the app’s value/advantages.

Expert Tip

Try A/B testing to see which type of screenshots have the highest impact on your app’s conversion rate.

App screenshots for Deliveroo and Burger King on the App Store, USApp screenshots for Deliveroo and Burger King (App Store, US)

Deliveroo and Burger King (App Store, US) both utilize recent design trends in the Food & Drink category, displaying real food that can be purchased through the apps. This catches the attention of store users and immediately showcases the gratification that comes with downloading their apps.

💡 Remember: Your app is also competing with ads and featured stories. Therefore, it is more important to immediately grab your users’ interest with visuals, as users might have to scroll more to find an app that matches their search intent.

A search for the keyword travel on the Google Play Store in the US shows 3 ads before the top apps, August 2022A search for the keyword “travel” on the Google Play Store (US) shows 3 ads before the top apps, August 2022

Discover 7 app store creative trends you can’t miss in 2022

Tip #3: Choose between portrait vs. landscape orientation

It is usually challenging to choose which orientation is the best for your screenshots.

Games, for example, commonly use the orientation that best depicts their gameplay. If the game requires users’ phones to be turned sideways, the screenshots are typically optimized for landscape orientation.

For the App Store, there are 2 primary devices on which an app can be downloaded:

  • On iPhone: Both landscape and portrait orientations are allowed. On desktop/iTunes, default screenshots are those from iPhone.
  • On iPad: Both portrait and landscape screenshots are allowed.

If your app is available on iPhone and iPad, you ideally need to create different screenshots for each device according to the correct size and pixels.

Angry Birds app screenshots for iPhone and iPadAngry Birds app screenshots for iPhone and iPad (US)

For each device, we see above that Angry Birds 2 (App Store, US) has added the same version of screenshots in different sizes. This is essential to display a high-quality image to store users.

Google Play strongly recommends the following guidelines when optimizing screenshots for your app or game:

  • For apps, provide at least 4 screenshots with a minimum 1080px resolution. These should be 16:9 for landscape (minimum 1920x1080px) screenshots and 9:16 for portrait screenshots (minimum 1080x1920px).
  • For games, provide at least 3 landscape screenshots of 16:9 (minimum 1920x1080px) or 3 portrait screenshots of 9:16 (minimum 1080x1920px).

AppTweak Metadata Benchmarks featureAppTweak’s Metadata Benchmarks feature

You can use our Metadata Benchmarks to inform your decisions with creative best practices in your category. For example, we see that the top music apps, on average, add 6 screenshots to their app pages, whereas Spotify has 9 screenshots. It is also interesting to note the percentage of portrait and landscape screenshots used in each category so you can decide whether to make your app fit in, or stand out from the trend.

Discover creative trends for the top apps and games in your category

Tip #4: Highlight one main feature per screenshot

App store visitors typically browse on small mobile devices, so don’t make your screenshots too complicated. A quick tip to help you keep things simple is to focus on one feature per screenshot: choose your best features and design a screenshot for each. For example, Mailchimp (App Store, US) shows one feature per screenshot to highlight its main functionalities in a clear view.

App screenshots for Mailchimp and Vrbo on the App Store, USApp screenshots for Mailchimp and Vrbo (App Store, US)

Going one step further, to help users better understand how they can benefit from using each feature, it is often a good idea to zoom in on certain elements. This helps focus users’ attention on what matters and will help you communicate your app’s main value propositions. Above, we also see that Vrbo (App Store, US) uses magnification to expand on some of the app’s most important features, as well as additional text to describe the benefits of these features.

Tip #5: Localize your app screenshots

If you want to market your app in various countries, it is important to upload screenshots in the locale of the respective region. It’s always better and easier to convince people in their mother tongue than in a foreign language.

Following ASO best practices, Airbnb (App Store) has localized its screenshots in different languages for its target markets. For example, in the US, they display screenshots both in English and Spanish (for two different audiences in one country). For Japan, the app has adapted screenshots in the local language.

Airbnb localized its app screenshots for the US in English and Spanish, and Japanese on the App StoreAirbnb localized its app screenshots for US (English & Spanish) and Japanese on the App Store.

However, if you want to maximize the impact of localization and target international markets, it’s not enough to simply translate your screenshots into the local language. More important is to research the local culture and adapt your design preferences according to cultural patterns.

App screenshots for Trip.com, US and Spain, in the App StoreApp screenshots for Trip.com (US & Spain) on the App Store

As we see here, Trip.com (App Store) has gone one step further by not only localizing the language but also its creatives. The app incorporates adapted background images and travel locations that are relevant to each country. This culturalization of creatives helps local users identify more easily with the brand and makes them more likely to download the app.

Tip #6: Show real-life use of your app/game

One of the best ways to showcase the capabilities of your app/game is to figuratively put it in the hands of the store user. This can be accomplished by showing real people using your app. This is a creative tactic we do not see often, but is very powerful. By showing your app’s features in a real-life scenario, store users can envision themselves using your app and also imagine their goals being accomplished.

App screenshots for Yousician and Peanut on the App Store, USApp screenshots for Yousician and Peanut (App Store, US)

Both Yousician (US, App Store) and Peanut (US, App Store) clearly demonstrate their apps’ functionalities by showing real people using the app. The people shown in these screenshots are ideal versions of who store visitors want to be. Yousician demonstrates real people using their app to learn guitar, so store users can already imagine themselves learning guitar in the same way. Peanut shows happy women connecting through its app, helping store users imagine finding friends in the same manner.

Tip #7: Monitor your competitors’ screenshot strategies

It is important to monitor your competitors’ apps and check out what top apps in your category choose to display and how they do so. Benchmarking is always a great source of inspiration. A good idea is to gather all screenshots from your most successful competitors and try to understand what really works.

You can also take a look at your least successful competitors’ screenshots and try to avoid the possible mistakes they might have made. Uncovering how your competitors use their screenshots and how they perform will help you identify opportunities in the market.

With our Timeline, you can easily identify when one of your competitors has implemented a metadata change and view the before/after. With this, you can identify some trends and seasonality effects that you could also follow. For example, we see that Temple Run 2 changed its screenshots from a Christmas design to a more general winter design on January 6, 2022 (App Store).

AppTweak Timeline featureAppTweak’s Timeline feature

Tip #8: A/B test your app screenshots

It is always good to test what you do. Test different versions of your app screenshots to determine which colors, text, design elements, and imagery have the highest conversion rates. Compare the results and go for the best-performing variant.

You can A/B test your screenshots on both stores. On Google Play, this is possible with store listing experiments; on the App Store, you can conduct A/B tests with product page optimization. A/B tests allow you to examine which creative elements drive more conversions for your app, see how users respond differently around the world, test seasonal content for higher downloads, and more.

AppTweak Timeline for Gardenscapes on Google Play, USAppTweak’s Timeline for Gardenscapes (Google Play, US)

If we take a look at the Timeline for Gardenscapes (Google Play, US), we see that the app ran an A/B test on their first screenshot. Two days after their test ended, they implemented the alternate screenshot from the test, implying that the variant drove more installs to the app.


TLDR

Screenshots are a major element of your app’s product page as they play an important role in your audience’s perception of your app and whether they choose to download it.

Following these 8 screenshot optimization tips will help increase the chances of your app conversion:

  1. Use your screenshots to clearly demonstrate your app’s purpose.
  2. Place your most eye-catching screenshots first.
  3. Play around with portrait and landscape orientations to catch users’ attention.
  4. Focus on one feature per screenshot.
  5. Localize your screenshots for the local language and cultural norms.
  6. Use real-life imagery to allow users to visualize themselves using the app.
  7. Monitor your competitors’ screenshot strategies.
  8. A/B test your app screenshots.

To learn more about how AppTweak can help you optimize your app creatives, schedule a demo today!

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Taya Franchville

by ,  ASO Expert

Taya likes dogs, coffee, and poetry! She lives in Indianapolis, IN, and she spends a lot of time outdoors!

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