How to make me lose all interest in your app and not even want to try it much less buy it

2011-04-26 14:29:19 -08:00

Choose any—or, preferably, none:

  • Make custom buttons, but don’t hire a professional designer to design them. Draw your UI in your pirated copy of Photoshop and make the best buttons you, fellow non-graphically-superpowered programmer, can manage, which look like you downloaded them from GeoCities in 1995 or got them out of a “1001 Buttons!” book from the same year.
  • Make custom UI controls (especially buttons) simply because you can.
  • Fill your App Store page’s “screenshots” section with images that are not purely screenshots. Showing an iPhone 4 with your app on it is a minus. Showing an older iPhone is another minus. Putting in your own inane blather marketing copy with your paint program’s text tool is a minus. Putting the iPhone and/or text on any kind of background is a minus. Any image that does not show the app at all is 500 minuses.
  • Show screenshots, but only of some of the app. Leave me wondering whether your app has the feature or UI pattern I’m looking for. (If your app is free, I’ll try it and find out. If it’s not, I won’t.)
  • Custom backgrounds without (good) custom UI. Extra debit if your background is plain white.
  • Abbr btn nms.

How to keep me actually interested and maybe even get me to buy your app:

  • If you make custom UI, make it awesome. Make a truly original UI that would belong on the cover of Macworld. Make it a custom UI with a purpose that guides and justifies the customizations. (Beware the difference between “purpose” and “theme”.) Otherwise, stick to plain Cocoa Touch controls wherever possible. Functional beats ugly.
  • If you go functional, follow the HIG. Either way, keep things clean and well-organized. Don’t force too much into a single screen. If you “have to” pack multiple things on a line, that’s too much. If you “have to” abbreviate words, that’s too much. Consider cutting features; simplicity is a virtue. If you need to break things out into other views, do it.
  • The screenshots section is for screenshots only. If you need to indicate a gesture, composite in a finger and an arrow, and don’t do that in more than one screenshot. No added text. Ever.

Don’t miss the comments. I’m sure some of you have some other don’ts to suggest that I forgot.

4 Responses to “How to make me lose all interest in your app and not even want to try it much less buy it”

  1. Dave M. Says:

    The biggest turn off for me with App Store entries are the first screen shot of a splash page or app menu page. I mostly look at games, and I find that any game that doesn’t show an actual game play screen shot as it first screen shot (the one that shows first), I will simply pass by without even bothering to look at. In the past I did and found that 99% of those apps had a very good reason for not showing game play screen shots. The game graphics sucked. :)

    Another big turnoff are apps that go on sale every other day, then go back to their original price. As I use to look for new and interesting apps, they show the full history of the apps price changes and updates. I have seen apps with well over 100 price changes in 6 months.

    Marketing copy stating “highly addictive”! Especially apps that put the word addictive in the title of the app.

  2. Alex Rozanski Says:

    For your point “If you go functional, follow the HIG”, I totally agree. However if UI is custom (you talk about custom buttons), following the HIG is important too, in building upon models that are present in the standard UI, if you can. This will make one’s custom UI easier to pick up (unless of course it is radically different and can’t be built upon any existing standard UI paradigm).

  3. Oliver Says:


    I figure from this you know a lot about what’s good and bad about apps. I am going to try and develop my own app and would be interested in having your opinions on how I should go about it. Check out my page and see if you like the concept. It is a VERY basic page at the moment I am trying to get a consensus on the idea and at least some indication of interest before I invest too much time into developing the app. But I plan to spend some more time on site/app content to hopefully generate a bit of interest. Its the whole chicken & the egg thing i guess.

    Let me know what you think.



  4. Peter Hosey Says:


    • First off: “” looks very spammy. It’s only because your comment didn’t look like the usual spammer copypasta that I decided to take a chance and open it (even then, in an Incognito window) rather than just go to my admin page and spam-bin you.
    • On a related note, is fine if you only intend to run a blog, but once you want to move beyond that, you should cough up the $10 or so for a domain name.
    • Combining the previous two: Pick a name for your app and/or blog, and use that for your domain name. At the very least, drop “Free” from the name—“Premium-Call Blocker” would be a pretty decent name (says the guy who has products like “Make RAM Disk” and “CPU Usage”).
    • Your story could use some more details. What is “Lyca”? What is a “Stealth Premium Rate Number”? At the very least, you could link to some resources for more information—the same ones you used to learn about this.
    • At the same time, I feel like you’re spending space on attempts at humor that simply don’t work very well. Better to cut to the chase.
    • What would your app do? Is it just a catalog, or does it actually do something to block calls? If it’s just a list of premium numbers, you should not call it a “Blocker”. If it is a “blocker”, what would it do to block the call? Would we use your app instead of the Phone app? (If so, why should we trust that you’re not logging every number we dial and/or slurping our contact list?) If not, what would your app do, exactly?

    I hope that helps.

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