Writing an iTunes App Description

Earlier this month, a question was posed in our developer forum about best practices for writing an iTunes App Description. Opinions from developers, paired with our first MWA Facebook poll, resulted in material for summarizing and sharing. Last year, Julie McCool broached the topic here on our blog about decoding iTunes app listings. This article extends the theme, delving further into ideas for presenting the information.

Getting an app out the door can be a mad dash to the finish. After the beta testing, bug fixing, and feature decisions have taken place – the creator of the app is faced with the next step: uploading the app to iTunes Connect and filling out the metadata for the iTunes App Description.

The iTunes App Description (i.e., the “view” in the App Store before having to buy the app) is your book cover, your wine label, your first impression for intriguing a person enough to click “Buy App”. Should this text be an afterthought? Indeed not!

I look at numerous app descriptions daily while contemplating how to position developers throughout the Moms With Apps promotional channels. These are elements I value, which are similar to trends voiced in our forum discussion and on the Facebook poll:

WHAT IS IT? Is it a math app, a drawing app, a language app, or a spelling app? If I can’t tell what the app is about in the first paragraph, then I’m lost before I begin. (Those first two lines are critical, because it’s all the user sees unless they click “more” to expand the description.)

HOW DOES IT HELP? You took the time to develop the app for a reason. What was that reason? What part of the world are you trying to change? By using this app, will my child become a whiz at arithmetic? Tell me your intentions and your learning objectives. As a potential customer, I’m interested in what you are trying to accomplish.

WHO IS IT FOR? Do you remember opening the 100-piece jigsaw puzzle which your toddler proceeded to eat? The puzzle should have been 12 jumbo pieces, not 100 mouthwatering pieces. This was my first lesson in “age appropriate” – just buying the right puzzle for the age. Apps are the same way; they need to be age appropriate. What age range is your target audience?

WHY SHOULD I CARE? Has anyone seen the app in action? Is the developer doing their homework in getting the app reviewed by subject matter experts? Has it received any accolades, testimonials, or awards? A brief summary on how the app is being received can lend credibility to the developer.

WHERE DO I PRESS? Many apps are intuitive, and can fall into free-play without too many instructions. But some apps need instructions, which is fine, as long as they are included.

ARE YOU TELLING ME EVERYTHING?  Is the app listed as *free*, but only works after purchasing additional modules? In-app purchases can surprise users – best to describe upfront what to expect after downloading the app.

CAN I SEE IT? Window shopping is nothing new, and it works. Developers are using their screenshots in creative ways to include more information about the app.

I’ve seen a lot of app descriptions with a bulleted list of FEATURES. These tend to hype up the latest technologies implemented within the app. I don’t know about you, but my most important concern is the end-user experience. I probably won’t notice whether the audio is professionally recorded, as long as it works as intended.

Written by Lorraine Akemann | Editor | Moms With Apps

I was syndicated on BlogHer.com

14 thoughts on “Writing an iTunes App Description”

  1. Excellent post, Lorraine! And timely too. Exactly the advice I need at the present time. So happy to found Moms with Apps. Excellent resource!


  2. I’m constantly amazed and frustrated that app developers don’t put the right keywords so that their audience can find their apps. Worse, Apple’s search engine is limited and sometimes even if the text includes the words you’re searching for the apps don’t come up. Given the amount of revenue at stake you’d think everyone would try harder.

  3. I second that – just finished a draft of our Shake-a-Phrase App Store description after reading. Finding MWA to be a fantastic community for sharing and learning.



  4. @Sarah @Matt, thanks for your comments. I’m relatively new to putting my own voice on this blog as the platform is intended directly for the developers. So I appreciate feedback on how the articles are coming across. After observing the forum conversations for over a year, we have collected so much insight on the market, that it’s a great time to start summarizing it and getting it out there.

    @MikeFM, the keyword comment is important, and there is one developer in particular who has really focused on this as a marketing strategy. But it’s not the norm, yet, and it took a lot of analysis for that developer to get it just right.


  5. Hi Lorraine – where were you 13 months ago? As Grace App was developed for Gracie herself the process was so organic we had no idea whether iTunes would even approve a picture exchange system designed for the user; it let alone get to the point of anyone downloading it!
    I got a message late on 11th March to say we were in review, then an hour later that we were approved and then I was told to write a description on the spot. It could have saved a lot of confusion to know what you have just explained – disappointed people who didn’t know what pecs meant expecting the app to talk etc, which really upset me.
    I’m so grateful to be part of this community and to have learned and improved my awareness around apps.
    I especially appreciate your advice about freeniums with built in purchase pop-ups. It continually amazes me how much people will pay for a cover that was made on a production line in a factory in 5 mins, but how they baulk at paying a lot less for an app that took over 18 months to create and thousands of euro in coding hours. I’m hoping that will change with better education too – as offered by yourselves. Thanks again xx

  6. @Lisa, good to hear from you, all the way from Ireland no less! Glad to hear that the community is helpful to your development efforts. Likewise, you have been a vocal supporter of MWA and it’s noticed and appreciated. The industry is still young, it’s a learning process for all of us. 🙂 –Lorraine

  7. I have to agree with this post 100%. We are constantly disscovering apps that are just not supporting the couriosity of the potential buyers.  We understand that this is new territory for many developers. Developers are learning as they go. We are seeing some awesome apps.  However to get your app discovered, the description has to be clear and precise. 

    Put it this way…

    Angry Birds is design to numb  the mind. Your app is design to stimulate the mind. With that being said, your description should do the same…stimulate.
    Awesome post!

  8. Thanks a ton for this information. This is what I was looking for. Didn’t know where to start and how to create curiosity for my app

  9. Hi Lorraine,
    Awesome article. Good thing I decided to look through the archive of articles posted up. This really helps because I wasn’t too sure if I should include who its for in the description. But a question though, I have a free story book App, which will have one free story and others will be paid, any advice on how to go about mentioning this?

  10. Very nice itune app description writing. I would like more about the what to include on the description. How about embedded YouTube description of the app in use?

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