Today we decided to do a study of the top 100 (free) apps in the Apple App Store to get a handle on some of the latest screenshot design trends. Below are our summarized & detailed findings, along with additional observations and examples of screenshots lastly. If you have any questions, would like to see the raw data or have an idea for a future app store study, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com.
- 30 of the top 100 used videos; games that used videos had a better rank than those that did not, but not so for non-games.
- 40 apps used a custom screenshot design (e.g. connected-style), yet had a worse rank than those that did not.
- 63 apps put screenshots in devices or used splash pages, yet to no better rank outcome than those that just used full in-app screenshots (with and without superimposed text/graphics)
- However, apps that put screenshots in a full device vs a partial device (whether real or animated) had a better rank, and apps that used real devices vs animated devices had a better rank.
- The 20 apps that did not use screenshots had a better rank (47) than the 80 that did (51).
- Apps that used their captions to describe use cases had the best rank, followed by feature captions, then step-by-step style captions, and last branding/sales captions.
- Apps with keyword bolding fared no better in ranking than those that did not use keyword bolding.
- Uses video? 30/100 apps had a video (with the top three video-using categories being 11 games, 4 photo & video, 3 social networking). Games that had videos were ranked at 47 on average, vs 57 for games without videos. Non-game apps with videos had an average rank of 62, vs 46 for non-game apps without a video.
- Total screenshots (excluding video)? 78/100 apps had five screenshots, 13 had four screenshots, 6 had three screenshots and 3 had only two screenshots. Apps with five screenshots were ranked at 47 on average, vs 58 for four screenshots, 80 for three screenshots and 60 for two screenshots.
- Uses custom-designed screenshot? E.g. combined-style first 2 screenshots.
While the large majority of apps had no custom designed-screenshots, some went a bit above and beyond a plain white background color, such as using blue or a dark color. Most games used either straight in-app screenshots (12/22), superimposed/custom designed screenshots (4/22) or added a splash-style screenshot (6/22). Half of social networking apps used some sort of custom screenshot design. In total, 40% of apps used a custom-designed screenshot, with an average rank of 54 vs apps that did not (48).
Uses in-app screenshot vs device-style? E.g. animated, partial devices profiles.
There was a split between apps not putting screenshots into a device profile, vs those using real devices vs those using animated graphic devices (though most apps put screenshots into some sort of device). Donald's Empire seems to use all splash-style screenshots, with hardly any in-app content. Games by far preferred just screenshots (with overlaid captions) social apps preferred animated devices and shopping apps preferred partial devices. The highest average rank was associated with full device screenshots (11 apps @ 37), followed by partial device (33 apps @ 49). There was little difference in average rank for apps that used just a simple in-app screenshot vs some custom-style screenshot (51 for just screenshots vs 50 for custom-design), yet the type of custom style mattered. Animated device apps (18) had an average rank of 62, vs real device apps (44) which had a rank of 46. Full device screenshots (13) had an average rank of 39, vs partial device screenshots (49) which had an average rank of 54.
- Background type? E.g. Using blurred images in the background.
Most apps did use some type of custom background (32 apps in the prior graph with just in-app screenshots show as N/A in this graph; 5 used just in-app screenshots placed into some type pf background). Shopping and social apps used the most colorful backgrounds. Blue outpaced white for the most popular background color, while blurred images outpaced clear images in the background.
- Caption type? E.g. blue caption font.
Most apps used a form of plain white or black text depending on their background type, but 11 apps of various categories used a type of caption with a large top line, with smaller text underneath. Many apps (mostly games) also used a caption where the caption was overlaid into some sort of shape, box or banner on top or bottom of the screenshot. The 80 apps that did use some type of caption had an average rank of 51, compared to 47 for apps that did not use captions.
- What do the captions describe? Most captions (38) describe the app's features with an average rank of 48, while a close second (32) take a sales-y or branding approach with an average rank of 61. 6 used a step-by-step progressive process (average rank of 57) and 5 described use cases (average rank of 11.8).
- Use keyword bolding in captions? 15/100 apps used keyword bolding in their captions. These apps had an average rank of 52, which was the same average rank for apps with captions that did not use keyword bolding.
(Uses custom call-out graphic?)
- Uses a screenshot that shows more than one device in it? 7 apps did, whose average rank was 47 compared to 51 for apps that did not.
- Uses landscape screenshots? 4 apps (all games) used a landscape-orientation screenshot, with an average rank of 31 compared to 47 for games with portrait-orientation screenshot.
- Most Innovative:
- Many of the Google apps are testing out innovative ideas. For example, some (like Gmail or Google Chrome) include a "download" call to action in the last screenshot. Google Translate is pretty cool, too.
- Uber and Lyft have pretty interesting screenshots. They use the "step-by-step" references, which a few other apps use as well.
- Mercify is not only a fascinating concept, but an appealing set of screenshots that manage to quickly explain what could otherwise be seen as a tough concept to grasp.
- TopBuzz takes a stab at being innovative, and while it needs some work to become more cohesive, it makes a splash. B for effort.
- Some apps are popping bits of their UI off of the app screen into the rest of the screenshot (like Google Chrome, Uber or Tinder).
- A couple caption trends include references to:
- "One tap to" + "action" (e.g. Google Slides: "One tap to create or open a presentation")
- "All in one place"
- Target uses the same caption for two screenshots, showing the feature over two different screenshots.
- Google and Groupme use images of other devices, with the "use it anywhere"-type caption.
- A few apps such as Yelp went riské with only 3 screenshots, only to be topped by Marco Polo at only 2.
- Some games (e.g. Helly Copter and Six!) include a splash screen at the end vs the start of the screenshots.
- Instagram refuses to use captions for any of its apps (which could skew the non-caption number lower).
- Screenshot with two devices in it – Facebook
- Connected screenshots – Youtube
- Large top line – Snapchat
- Partial, animated device; also, pop-out UI style – Gmail
- Use cases – Google app
- Splash screen – 8ball Pool
- Branding/selling; also connected background images – Wish
- Text overlay – Bitmoji
- Boxed-in overlay – Clash Royale
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