Visual Optimization: Graphic ASO Guide + Templates Inside
Graphic ASO is trickier than text ASO. It seems that you should be a bit of a graphic designer to make it work. So let’s discuss in detail how to optimize graphic assets. Do they represent the idea of the app? Are they well localized for the selected region? We will walk through the steps to help ensure the high quality of your graphic ASO.
Why do I need graphic ASO?
If text ASO helps users discover your app on the App Store and on Google Play, then graphic ASO helps draw the user’s attention. So that users go to the app home page and install the app. To achieve significant success, you may want to perfect your graphic ASO. Users will notice your icon and find the details they need in the screenshots and preview video.
You must be aware of the idea, value, and strengths of your product. Next, you should define your target audience and create a customer profile to understand preferences and needs of your users. And don’t forget to track your competitors.
How do I start preparing images for app stores?
You’d better start with a competitive analysis. It’ll help you research trends in your niche, gauge your competitors’ strategies, learn their strengths and weaknesses to stand out.
After collecting references, you can move on to the concept. Write a terms of reference, because the conversion of the app will depend on its final version. Remember that you only have a few seconds to capture user attention.
Instead of relying on subjective ideas of good and bad design, use competitive analysis data and conversion. Test data, if available.
Working with graphics can affect more than design and ASO. This is about marketing, psychology, analytics and culture of your target audience. The comparative analysis can help you understand how you stand out and what mistakes you need to fix first.
What are the requirements for graphic elements?
You can find more information on the official websites.
- * the App Store requirements for graphic elements and content.
- * Google Play requirements for graphic elements and content.
On the App Store, we see an app icon and screenshots in search results. Screenshots attract more user’s attention.
In search results on Google Play Store, we see only an icon, so, it has a greater impact.
A dull icon will lead to poor conversion even if you have high Impressions. You can create an icon depending on the type of the app. If you have a recognizable brand, then you can use the logo and brand components as a basis. Games have more room for bold design decisions; still, don’t overdo it as the idea is still important.
The icon should be simple. It’ll be hard to discern, if you use a lot of small details. Add a few elements and make them large.
The App Store is against including photos and screenshots in the icon. Google Play doesn’t like it when the logo fits the full asset space and there is no ‘air’ around it.
On the App Store, the icon plays a big part in driving traffic from the Search channel. Thematic collections, similar apps, category top charts show only an icon, an app name, and a short description.
On Google Play, you can create a special icon for each country. This allows you to suit cultural features if you are promoting around the world. On the App Store, you can use only one icon for all countries, which greatly reduces the optimization opportunities.
It’s crucial to pay attention to the locale and season as well. Each country has its own culture and holidays, which you can’t ignore at all costs. Thus, you may lose users, conversions and your key metrics may drop.
Play your cards right when it comes to the icon. Once you’ve made it, test new updates by changing the color, logo, or all at once. Tests will show the user’s response and, so, how tuned your graphic ASO is.
Google Play and the App Store screenshots
Screenshots play an equally important role in this entire chain. They may ‘convince’ users to click the install button. Everyone needs to test screenshots much more often. We advise you to follow these tips:
- don’t use tiny unreadable text in screenshots;
- don’t take the word ‘screenshot’ literally;
- don’t forget to optimize the format for various devices;
- screenshots should reflect the main idea of your app;
- don’t ignore what competitors’ screenshots look like.
Explore your competitors in the Top charts or in the category of your app. Maybe the majority of them are quite similar and do the same thing. Thanks to this, you can stand out. For example, you can create panorama screenshots or use a gradient instead of one color. Experiment by keeping an eye on competitors’ apps.
The App Store and Google Play have requirements for the size, quality and content of screenshots. To avoid problems with moderation, they should be carefully studied and adhered to when designing graphics.
For example, you can’t use graphics that don’t reflect the essence of your app. Moderators won’t allow such images and you’ll have to redo it until they are satisfied with everything, which is a waste of time. It’s better to do it right from the very beginning.
To get the most out of screenshots, you will have to apply the data. First of all, collect data on your competitors.
Then study the behavior of your users: what features of your app they like the most. These functions should be demonstrated in screenshots to attract a similar audience.
Read users’ reviews. They could contain insight into not only the problems and weaknesses of the app, but also into the features of your app that users like.
— How many screenshots do you need?
On the App Store, you can upload up to ten screenshots for each display resolution, and you can add up to eight screenshots on Google Play.
ASO specialists came to the conclusion that the proper number of screenshots should be as follows: vertical (portrait) up to 6, horizontal (landscape) up to 5. Most users only look at the first three screenshots.
That’s why they should convey the most important information. The one about coupons for install, functionality available only in the app, and the main differences from competitors.
What text should I add to screenshots?
Texts help convince users to install your app, which means they encourage conversions.
Some experts claim that Google Play’s algorithms look at texts from screenshots, which affects indexing and ranking for keywords. Place the main keywords in the screenshots.
Make your font large and readable. Your text should highlight the main competitive advantages.
Avoid long, overloaded sentences. Keep them short and clear.
Use calls to action, for example: ‘Use now’, ‘Improve your…’, ‘Save on your…’.
Please keep in mind that users can access your app’s home page using different models of smartphones or tablets. Don’t forget to optimize screenshots for different formats.
The preview video is displayed first in the screenshot gallery. On the App Store, a video can replace the first three screenshots.
Preview videos are most often used for games, as you need to showcase the gameplay to attract users.
Preview videos for other categories can replace onboarding. Show the main features of your app.
For a preview, you can choose a thumbnail that will be displayed before playing. On the App Store, you can select a frame from your footage for a Poster Frame. On Google Play, you can upload a feature graphic (an image with a description). It will become the most noticeable element of your store listing.
Try to make a compelling feature graphic. Keep in mind that FG is the most visible element on your app page. It highly affects the install conversion rate.
In addition, the feature graphic affects your conversions rates because:
- it’s shown in recommended games and on other Google Play pages.
- it’s a preview image displayed when you share a link to the app on Google Play;
- it’s used in the Ads section if you’re running an auto-generated ad on Google Ads;
Seasonal ASO is a way to get user attention with a relevant agenda: holidays or big sales like Black Friday. Thanks to a newsworthy event, you can attract new users and re-engage old ones. If you manage to get featured on app stores, it will boost your traffic.
As part of the seasonal ASO, you can update your app icons and screenshots. Use holiday-related keywords in your texts.
Don’t limit yourself to the visuals for maximum performance. Develop special offers for each holiday and tell about them in your screenshots. It will incentivize users to install your app.
For example, you can give big in-app discounts for Black Friday. This way, you will engage new users to this channel.
ASO audit and A/B testing
ASO audit or A/B testing may help find out what your app lacks and how else you can stand out.
We wrote a long post about ASO audits. Click to read it.
In short, an ASO audit also provides professional graphics expertise. Many people find it difficult to analyze the quality of their visual assets. So they need professional advice. In addition to graphics, ASO specialists analyze text ASO, rating, reviews, and other data.
After the ASO audit, you can get ideas for A/B testing. It’s still the best way to find designs that will lead to conversions.
The icon and other graphic elements should be tested with regularity. There is no limit to perfection. It’s important that you run a test with enough installs to collect statistically significant data. You can use various tools for these purposes. Make sure you evaluate the test results carefully. Sometimes experts mistake a standard margin of error for an increase of 2-3%.
How do I test new graphics?
There are four testing methods: using the Google Play Console, ‘Before / After’, Search Ads, or services for testing metadata.
Using Google Play Console
The tool is called ‘Store listing experiments’. It’s available to every app owner in the Google Play Console. This tool is convenient, accurate and free. To use it, you need to have organic traffic.
Bad news is that it only works for apps on Google Play. What works for Google Play is not always relevant for the App Store.
You need to prepare new visual elements, update them, and analyze conversion data for the same fixed period before and after the update.
Assess only traffic from the Search channel — from users who have installed your app after typing a search query. Analyze traffic from the Browse/Explore channel too — from users who have found the app in collections, top charts, articles, and similar apps. Traffic from these two channels is the most stable in terms of quality.
We recommend not to update other visual or text elements, except for the tested ones. Stick to the same marketing strategy for the entire testing period.
The main disadvantage of this method is that the data can be inaccurate and it takes a long time to collect.
Using Search Ads
Search Ads is the precise and representative testing method.
To run a test in Search Ads, you need:
- Prepare new graphic elements. Keep your current screenshots.
- Add up to 10 screenshots to the app page: the first 5 from the current version of your gallery and the remaining 5 are new. On the product page, the user will see the old screenshots first, and then the new ones.
- Run two ad campaigns in Search Ads for the same keyword.
- Keep the standard group of screenshots for your first ad campaign.
- Add a Creative Set using the app preview video and new screenshots. Select it to display when launching your second ad campaign.
The traffic will be almost identical. After each group gets at least 2,000 impressions, you can draw conclusions about the new graphic elements performance.
The big disadvantage of this method is that it is available only on the App Store and it requires payment.
Despite this, you pay for relevant users and return on investment with a fine-tuned ad campaign.
The data you collect from such A/B testing will be less accurate than the one from the Store listing experiments, but more accurate than the ‘’Before/after’’ data.
Using services for testing metadata
These are paid tools and you will have to pay for the traffic that goes for testing. This is the most accurate method, because the services have various tools and a lot of expertise.
The major disadvantage — it’s the most expensive option.
Whichever method you choose, keep in mind that you should test one hypothesis and one graphic asset at a time. This way, you will definitely know what exactly had an impact on the conversion rate.
Free ASO kit for icons and screenshots
You might be thinking how to create screenshots for app stores? We know how painful it can be to work on graphic ASO. So we’ve created an ASO kit with templates to help you. Adjust your graphics for different devices. Pick the right mockup, open it in Adobe Photoshop, customize and upload to the App Store Connect or Google Play Console.
Click here to get our ASO kit for icons and screenshots.
Follow these general rules when optimizing graphic elements.
- Graphic ASO is what makes your app stand out among competitors.
- Users should immediately grasp the idea behind your app.
- Screenshot texts should be simple and readable.
- All graphic elements should match the overall concept.
- Show UI design and a gameplay mechanic (for games).
- Run a comparative analysis and ASO audits to gather insight.
- Test your visual ideas with A/B testing.
- Use tools like the ASO kit to save your time and make things easier for you.
We hope the graphic ASO guide was helpful. You can track your competitors and their updates using Checkaso tools. Sign up for a demo or try our free 7-day trial.