What is ‘featuring’ all about and how to get to the main screen of the App Store? Headway case

The Ukrainian educational application Headway from the Genesis ecosystem appeared on the home screen of the App Store in 144 countries, attracting some 20,000 new users to the project. In the op-ed for AIN.UA, Anatolii Denysiuk, Head of UX/UI at Headway, explains the big idea behind featuring and how to get to the home screen of the App Store for free. 

All images in the article are provided by Genesis

What is featuring in the App Store all about?

Featuring is about promoting mobile applications and games in the form of topical collections in the App Store application. It is a list of Apple’s recommendations. You can see these lists on the home screen when you open the App Store, so it’s a great honor to be there.  

In fact, App Store advertises your  application or a game for free. The Apple team describes your product and chooses  the principle according to which these lists are made.

Each country has its own App Store with its own ranking of games and apps since its users have their own country-specific preferences and needs. Headway was featured in the education category 92 times in the UK, India, Australia, and Canada. Also, in the UK and Ireland, Headway received the “App of the Day” status four times – that is, the Headway logo and name were the first things people saw when they opened the App Store.

Who might want to get featured and why?

  1. Developers of games and apps. It allows you to introduce yourself, to get organic traffic and installations for free, and, of course, it boosts your reputation. If you’ve been featured, Apple thinks you’re cool.
  2. Users. The topical collections help you quickly find the app you need if you don’t have a specific one in mind. The “App of the Day” prompts the user to download a completely new product.
  3. Apple. To get featured, a team must come up with a great product. That improves the quality of the apps listed in the App Store and helps meet the needs of every user.

What do you need to do to get featured?

  • File a request by filling out a special form on the Apple website. Indicate a name, describe a product, and provide a link. 
  • Of course, you have to get ready by getting rid of design bugs and shortcomings as best you can. After you are done, update screenshots and product descriptions in the App Store and take care of negative comments. 
  • It is very important to write a great cover story “About the product” that will sell or won’t sell your product to the editors of the App Store collections.
  • And then wait. If the application is approved (that is, the editor has found your product worthy of attention), the developers will get access to a page in Apple Connect where they need to present the product in detail by the indicated deadline.
  • Allow time to moderate your content. If you submit your application an hour before the deadline, it is highly likely you will be late. We ran the risk of missing the deadline because we did not take into account the ban on showing devices that refer to Apple in visual materials. And given the fact that our episode was about a smartphone (which looks like an iPhone by default), we had to do everything over again and within the shortest time possible. You will be provided with a to-do/not-to-do checklist to be studied.

Five factors to consider if you want to get featured

  1. The promise of the product is confirmed by numbers, namely, the number of downloads, ratings, and earnings;
  2. An app has a unique story, a technical solution, or a specific problem it solves. This could be a note-taking app, a handy solution for millions, or a fitness tracker for disabled swimmers.
  3. The app has been localized in many countries.
  4. The app and its App Store page are regularly updated.                
  5. The application is nice, understandable, and user-friendly. Amen!

100% paid products are rarely featured. The editor is more likely to choose an app that works by subscription.

Column “Rumor has it.” It is believed that Apple willingly features applications that have iPad and Apple Watch versions. This is an unwritten rule, but practice shows that it works. Relying on this information, we adapted the application for an iPad within three days (and three nights).

Headway did not submit an application – Apple offered us to get featured

An App Store representative contacted us via the email address indicated in the Headway description. We immediately got a page in Apple Connect, were asked to introduce ourselves, and to prepare some visual materials. We had two weeks to do this. It came out of the blue, so we had to work at night and on weekends. We planned every single step and allocated the necessary resources. The entire team pitched in. It was great. Everyone knew what we were doing and, most importantly, why we were doing it. Then I realized that the key to success in getting featured and the success of the product itself depends on teamwork.

As a result, we have been featured 96 times in 144 countries.  

What are the benefits of featuring for Apple?

  • To date, featuring has brought 20,000 new organic users. In general, the number of organic views will grow from 50 to 150% on the days of big featuring (that is what we call getting to the home screen or any featuring in a large number of countries).
  • A mark on the application page that it was featured as the “Application of the Day.” Since it is visible to potential users, it is likely to increase the number of installations.
  • Display priority. When a user is looking for an application that was featured, a block with an editorial article shows up in the search results. It pushes aside the following results, so the probability that the user will notice your app is higher. 
  • Apple has offered Headway to place a demo app on company gadgets in offline stores. The default apps are chosen by Apple rather than the store. Headway is now available on iPhones and iPads in Apple stores in over 35 countries, including the UK, US, and China.
  • “Friendship” with Apple has boosted brand awareness and reputation. For example, when Apple gives a big presentation, your app might hit the screen and get noticed by a potential audience. I’m sure we are going to see Headway at the WWDC presentation very soon.

Author: Anatolii Denysiuk, Head of UX/UI at Headway