Why Your App Description Sucks

Writing a good app store description is an art form. Here are a few reasons why some app descriptions totally suck, and what you can do about it.

Writing for the app store is an art form. Some are born with talent, while others could use a few pointers. Here are a few reasons why some app descriptions totally suck, and what you can do about it.

It doesn’t tell us what your app actually does

It seems like such a no-brainer, but it happens all the time. One of, if not the absolute, worst app descriptions is one that doesn’t tell users what the app actually does. If we don’t know what the app is for, why should we download it? Seriously, what does your app actually do? Sometimes, people get so excited about highlighting all the different features and glowing reviews of their app that they forget to include its main functionality; other times, it’s just too long and/or unclear, which leaves people scratching their heads. It’s all the same when you bury functionality somewhere in the middle of everything else. The trick is to clearly and concisely summarize the main function of the app, then place it “above the fold” where users can easily find it without having to dig around.

Vine, a Top 25 video sharing app, does a really great job of doing this:

Nice and concise – and right where people can see it.

It bores us to death.

Yawn. Apps are supposed to be exciting. Don’t suck the fun out of it, thus detracting downloads at the same time, by boring users with your description. Don’t give it a long, drawn out narrative. We’re in the ADD generation, folks, so get to the point and give it some pizzazz. When appropriate, take a pointer from ad gurus and stir up warm and fuzzy feelings, such as by appealing to users’ emotions.

Happier, a featured photo sharing app, does this beeeeeautifully:

Doesn’t this just make you… happier?

It gives your app zero street cred.

What are reviews for if they don’t show off your app? Users love reviews. Study after study shows that people are more likely to try something when they know others love it too. This is especially powerful if it the endorsement comes from someone of authority, such as a major blog or magazine. So, don’t be afraid to quote all the great press and accolades you’ve got and use them do your advantage. For maximum effectiveness, start with your best review at the very top so people see it right off the bat, then list the rest somewhere in the middle after describing functionality and features.

You can also let reviews do the all talking for you, like the Top 25 photo app, Camera+:

Reviews + features + function. What more can you ask for?

It doesn’t tell us the “value” of your app.

So we know what your app does and people other than yourself think it’s super. But what’s in it for me? What does it bring to my life that no other app or similar app does? Will it make me laugh? Make me cry? Give me an excuse to procrastinate? Will it make my day easier? Change life as I know it? How will it rock my world? That’s what users want to know. If you don’t tell us exactly how we can benefit from your app, we probably won’t waste time giving it a chance.

HopStop, a transportation app that’s currently featured at the App Store, is an excellent example of how to show users the value of an app:

Thanks, HopStop, for making my commute a little more tolerable!

I may also be a bit biased, but I think Bahndr, a photo captioning social app, does a swell job of doing this also:

Wanna LOL? Download me!

Do you have any tips for crafting crafty app descriptions? Share them below.

Homepage: Image by Jen Collins

About Sara Angeles

Sara is a copywriter, blogger, and content strategist for startups and lifestyle brands. She graduated from UC Irvine and has a background in law, finance, and business administration. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter. Her Google+ is lonely. Find out more about her at SaraAngeles.com.

  • Jelmer

    As I’m writing my thesis on stimulating favorable behavior of app-users it is very interesting to see how even different designs of description could have different effects on people. Nice insights! Although a description is mainly an antecedent for people to download an app, they don’t really spend much time on reading them right? It would be nice if in some way you could make the description so appealing/fun/interesting to people they actually feel reading them is rewarding. I could imagine people casually browsing an appstore are more inclined to check out descriptions if they know it’s fun. And checking more is downloading more!

  • http://twitter.com/GR8iPhoneGames GR8iPhonesGames

    Sara – we make games so do you have any suggestions for writing a game description? Really like your posts!

  • http://inventikasolutions.com/ Inventika Solutions

    Another tip is, “Think of a description which can be tweeted.”.

    If your description, passes the 140 character test, then you are set. I shortened my app description from about 4 long sentences to a short tweet.
    It had 2 benefits – people could understand what it did in one sentence and they would RT it further.