Design and Market Windows Phone Applications

The Windows Phone Marketplace is loaded with applications, so making yours highly visible is not an easy task. Here are some tips on how to properly design and market your Windows Phone application.

Design your artwork properly

While they say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, people do so when making purchases.  This is often true in conventional shopping, and it applies to shopping in an app store as well.  You may have the best app in your genre or category, but if its presentation and marketing is lacking, many users will never even give it a chance.  For this reason, your artwork must be designed properly.

App tiles may be rather small in size, but their impact is large, especially when it comes to the app tile that is displayed in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  Think of the app tile as your primary shot to grab a user’s attention.  You do not have a lot of space to work with, and you also don’t have the chance to provide an entire explanation of what your app does on the tile.  This is why it must bring plenty of appeal to the table in terms of design.  If you have no idea on how to even begin designing your app tiles, browse the marketplace for competing apps.  Take a look at their tiles to get an idea of where to start.  Obviously, you do not want to copy their design, but you can use the examples as a springboard to begin brainstorming on your own.  When designing your app tiles, you want to make sure that they display a log that really represents your brand/app.  Besides conveying an aura of what your app is all about, it’s also a good practice to make sure that your logo shows the functionality that your app provides. 

Screenshots offer a snapshot of your app and its functions.  These images offer a preview of what your app has to offer, so they play a big part in marketing as well.  You get up to eight screenshots, so you want to make each one count.  Each shot should be very clear, and it should also show the user various aspects of your app.  If possible, choose screenshots that are very colorful, as they will add more appeal to your app during the sales process.

The final piece of your artwork puzzle is your panorama, or background art.  This will be your app’s background should it get selected as a featured app in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  When it comes to your panorama, keep it focused on the app in question.  Don’t use it to promote any other apps you have on the market.  If your app will be available on a worldwide basis, try to localize the panorama to carry the essence of the countries where it is showcased.  While the panorama is used as a selling point for your app, do not make it the focus of the page.  Keep it simple, and avoid overly flashy patterns or elements.  You want your visitors to focus on the app itself and its functionality, not on panoramic fluff.

User interface

Your app’s user interface must not only look good, but it must be user-friendly and functional as well.  This may seem like common sense, but it must be included in the discussion for creating an app that is marketable.  Besides having basic aesthetic appeal, your user interface should incorporate certain elements.  The Live Tiles feature of Windows Phone 7 is one of those elements, while the Windows Phone 7 user interface design is another. 

As far as functionality is concerned, you want your user interface to be designed so that someone can jump right into the app without much knowledge or experience.  The simpler the better.  Menus should follow a logical pattern to get from one point to another.  Your interface should also integrate scrolling and touchscreen features of Windows Phone 7 to provide the best experience possible.

The app itself

There’s obviously no shortage of apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  In order for your app to really stand out from the rest of the crowd, it must be original.  This does not mean that you should create an app with an obscure and nearly worthless existence.  It must be useful and provide a service.  Whether that service is making life easier or more productive or providing entertainment, it must have value to a user.  The app should also be easy to use.  The more complicated it is, the less appeal it will have to a broader audience.  Although you don’t want the app to be complicated in how it is used, you also do not want it to be so simple in form that it will lose its luster over time.  One way to do this is to incorporated special features.  Creating an app that uses the phone’s accelerometer or GPS adds appeal.  As mentioned, the use of the touch-screen to make the app highly interactive also helps.

Getting back on the topic of originality, one place where you want to have it is in the title.  You want the app’s title to convey its function, but you also want it to be original.

Remember when we talked about the app’s artwork?  That was important, but so is the app’s audio.  If you have music in the background, it should blend in well with the app.  Refrain from piping in music that is irritating or monotonous.

In terms of pricing, you don’t want to price your app too high or too low.  If your app is very original and provides an everyday use, you will be justified in slapping a higher price tag on it.  Pay attention to your competitors’ prices, if you have any.  It’s a good idea to offer a limited trial version to users so they can get a sample of what they might be purchasing.

{mospagebreak title=Windows Phone App Marketing Practices}

Creating an appealing app is just the beginning.  Once your app is accepted and available to the public, you should execute different marketing strategies to increase its exposure.  Perhaps the simplest practice is to include the Download for Windows Phone 7 button as well as a link to your App details page.  If a user has these two items easily at their disposal, you increase the chances of selling your app.

As stated earlier, offering a trial version of your app will make it much more marketable.  If you have a paid app and only offer screenshots, a user may not feel compelled to invest in it.  Having a trial version means that they can get a real taste of your app in action.

Microsoft may deem your app as worthy of being featured on its sites.  If so, consider yourself lucky.  Also, pat yourself on the back for creating a marketable app.  Now, if your app does not get selected, there are still other things you can do to up its presence and popularity.

Use social networking to your advantage.  It’s as popular as ever, and a great promotional avenue.  You can also create blog posts about your app.  Just be sure to include the Download for Windows Phone 7 button and a link to the App details page.  You can also kick things up a notch by offering a video preview of your app.  YouTube is a great site to promote your app through video.

The aforementioned were just some tips on how to create and market a Windows Phone application.  Use these tips and build on them to make your app the best it can be.

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