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 member poll, resulted in a collection of tips to share on this post.

Getting an app out the door can be a mad dash to the finish line. After development, beta testing and bug fixing, app makers must login to iTunes Connect and write metadata for the iTunes App Description.

The iTunes App Description gives potential customers a preview before purchasing an app in the store. The app description serves a similar purpose to a book cover or wine label. Is a product’s first impression intriguing enough for a person to tap and download? Should the text in this description be an afterthought? Indeed not!

I read numerous app descriptions while contemplating how to position developers throughout social media, and find the elements outlined below to be most important.

What is it?

Is the developer launching a math app, drawing app, language app, or spelling app? The first few lines are critical since this is all a user sees unless they click more to expand the description. If I can’t tell what the app is about at first glance, I may lose interest in the product.

How does it help?

Developers make apps for a reason. What are those reasons? What part of the world are they trying to change? What makes the app special? By clearly conveying the app’s intentions and objectives, potential customers may be more likely to make a purchase.

Who is it for?

My first lesson in age-appropriateness happened when I put a jigsaw puzzle in front of my toddler, who then proceeded to eat very small cardboard pieces. In this example, I did not match the right type of puzzle with the right age. Apps are the same way; they need to be age appropriate. Apps made for kids need an age range to correctly reach the 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 the app 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 tap?

Many apps are intuitive, and can fall into free-play without too many instructions. But some apps need instructions, which can be 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, and unhappy surprises can lead to frustration. Being transparent upfront lets users know what to expect after downloading the app.

Can I see it?

Window shopping works. Developers can use screenshots in creative ways to illustrate the features of an app. Enlisting the help of a graphic designer can make a big difference.

Ideally, app descriptions communicate enough compelling and credible material to invite a purchase or download. As an experienced app customer, I’m always pleased when I download an app that’s described as intended.

Lorraine Akemann | Cofounder and Editor | Moms With Apps

I was syndicated on BlogHer.com

Photo credit Flickr [Lucas]

14 Replies to “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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