The marketplace contains thousands of applications and you as a developer you are hopefully trying to add one more. It can seem like a daunting challenge to stand out, but with some careful planning and attention to detail users will see your application.
Before going into the design portion of this post lets have a look at the Marketplace. Applications unless prominently featured are going to be found in the category list or by the search feature. Take time choosing the correct category and keywords. Pretend you are a normal user trying to find your application when thinking of keywords.
Keeping the above definition in mind lets break down the things that hurt and build up a brand. The chart below lists some issues you yourself as a user may have ran into already.
|Good||Bad (reflected in the Rating / Reviews)|
✔ Clear and concise
✔ Consistency (check other apps)
✔ At least three stars
✔ Slow transitions
✔ Lack of cached data
Varied / random margins
Small / closely spaced buttons
Not all the points above play a direct role if a user will download the application. For instance users can only see a limited amount of information in the marketplace, so all the time spent on the actual application can only be reflected in the description, reviews, and hopefully the rating. The diagram below depicts the way many users will see your application and make their decision to download. If the user cannot determine what the application does based on the name and icon they may keep scrolling without ever reading the description.
With the brief understanding of how a brand plays a role on users decision in the Markteplace there is the whole matter of design that needs to be understood. This does not mean you have to be a designer. Really the Metro UI does most of the work for you, but at the same time if you are not careful the simplicity can backfire. How can it backfire exactly? Developers will feel it is too simple and for some reason (and it happens a lot) will add a layer of complexity to an action. That is why the entire time you place form elements or buttons consider if they are needed and always “keep it simple”.
The first thing you want to keep simple when branding is the icon. Windows Phone has the icon in three locations including the more unique application tile. The application tile being the ability to pin an application to the start screen greatly increasing the chance of repeated use by the user. The other two places common on all mobile platforms are the store and list/grid views.
For simplicity reference the diagram below when deciding which icon style to go with. As shown applications should use the metro style for their icons. This ensures the users theme color is shown through giving a consistent user experience.
In some applications the purpose of an application can be conveyed with a simple silhouette. For instance an application to look up bus routes could use a bus with a map behind it at a 30% opacity. During the branding stages think of a list of objects that could best display what the application will do. In a vector application or with a designer run through the variations until you feel the icon best represents what the application does. Remember to keep it simple and use only two layers of solid and opacity.
For examples of picto icons with a metro style check out the Windows Phone Icon pack. These are more general in style, so as a warning directly using them could give your application a more generic feel.
With the icon figured out the next step is to bring what you learned here into the interior of your application. The brand must be carried through or ratings could be effected causing the loss of future downloads.
Part 2 Coming Soon