Each week we showcase apps in the Windows Store that we think customers will love. We spend all day, every day, looking for apps to highlight and we’re excited to promote apps that are well-designed, innovative and offer unique value. We feature these apps in the Store Spotlight and on the Windows website, and we also blog about apps we love on the Windows Experience blog (as well as right here). Given the opportunity these feature placements represent for app builders, we thought we’d describe what we look for, in an effort to help you get your app considered.
The notion of a well-designed app encompasses a lot of different dimensions, from the app’s user model and behavior on the platform to elements of app aesthetics and personality. We look to highlight apps that embrace our design guidance, which helps customers get the most from your apps. We’re particularly excited to feature apps that do a great job implementing Windows Store app features such as:
- Charms and contracts (Settings, Search, Share)
- Placing commands in the app bar
- Detecting orientation changes
- Providing snapped and fill views
When planning your app, review the Microsoft design principles on our Dev Center when deciding the best way to include these features in your design. These topics cover core app design principles as well as approaches to navigation, commands, branding and other elements of user experience.
If you’re looking for a hands-on experience, we run App Labs and events around the world so you can get expert help on your app’s specific behavior and user experience. New events are scheduled all the time, so check here for the latest, including the upcoming App Builder Virtual Summit on May 2nd.
Now let’s take a look at two apps that we’ve featured before and consider how each takes advantage of the design guidance. Each makes great use of the Windows 8 features: eBay (in fill view) showing filtering and sorting controls on the app bar, and KEXP Artist Discovery (in snapped view) where you can see what’s playing, pause or restart audio, and click to get more info about songs, shows, and events.
In addition to the design, we also consider the quality of the app’s behavior on the platform, its responsiveness, and overall performance when we look to showcase.
Presentation and appeal
How you present your app in the Windows Store and the breadth of the app’s appeal are also important considerations for us. When looking for apps to feature, we choose high-quality apps that we expect will have a broad appeal in their market.
Offering unique value in terms of subject matter, functionality, and design expression is a great way to get noticed. Your app’s description should be engaging, clear, and immediately show customers what this app can do for them.
The app also needs to have great promotional images. These are not required for publishing your app to the Store, but they are a requirement for us to be able to consider featuring your app. Take time to design a great promotional image that we can use to help introduce your app to potential customers.
Beyond promotional images, you’ll also want to make sure that you use attractive screenshots that show off what your app can do. Here’s an example from an app we’ve featured before, Sudoku Free. This shows one of several screen shots that don’t just demonstrate how the app works, but also highlight many of its features.
For more examples of what we look for, open the Windows Store and check out any of the apps that are currently featured in the Spotlight section. These apps generally have nice screenshots and clear descriptions, and deliver a great experience.
Aside from the overall app quality, there are a few additional considerations that can affect our decision to feature an app. Keep these in mind as you build your app.
- The app should run across all Windows 8 platforms (ARM, x86, and x64).
- If you want to offer a paid version of your app, or if you want fee-based options, use the platform’s built-in trial or in-app purchase capabilities. This will help customers and help your conversion rate. Don’t offer a free version separate from a paid version.
- Given the diversity of Windows customers, we take extra precaution when considering promotion for apps that are age-rated 16+. Store policy requires that all promotional content be rated no higher than 12+, independent of the app’s age rating.
There are so many great apps coming into the Windows Store each day and it’s a privilege to showcase them and see app builders succeed on Windows. Hopefully, this post provides some insight into how your next app could become a featured app in the Store.
–Ted Dworkin, Partner Program Manager for the Windows Store