Hi! I’m Kami LeMonds, merchandising manager for the Windows Phone Store. My team has the awesome job of selecting the apps we promote every day in the Windows Phone Stores across the globe. Many of you have inquired about how we select the apps we promote and how your app can be considered for promotion. Starting with today’s post, I will be sharing with you on a regular basis our guiding principles (and a few of our secrets). This is especially important for those of you participating in the Windows Phone Next App Star contest*, because these principles will be used to evaluate the quality of your apps, representing 50% of your overall assessment.
When my team reviews apps, we assess overall quality by looking at three areas: Functionality, Utility, and Enjoyment. To be a strong contender for Windows Phone Next App Star, your app must excel in all three. I’ll dedicate the rest of this post to providing insight into how we think about these areas, as well as providing examples of apps that showcase quality in each.
What’s more frustrating than an app that doesn’t work as promised? For an app to be assessed high on Functionality, it must demonstrate strong performance and stability by running quickly, with fluid and responsive performance. Apps should be intuitive and easy to navigate without instructions. Brief, in-app tutorials are okay, but these should be simple and help customers quickly understand and start using their new app in a matter of minutes. As part of this straightforward usability, we look for engaging and high-quality content in the app, as well as in the Store description. This description should engage customers and give details on what the app (or its latest update) can do for them. This is going to sound obvious, but the description should be grammatically correct, clear, and factually accurate. And, don’t forget to include screenshots to help customers make an informed download decision.
Allrecipes and Flixster are good examples of apps that exhibit very good Functionality. Both of these apps demonstrate strong performance and stability, are straightforward to use, and have particularly helpful, captivating descriptions combining text and screenshots. With each update, the publisher also provides a summary of changed or new features to explore.
This area reflects the quality of the mobile experience the app delivers. Apps that rate highly in Utility have an engaging and useful feature set that enables users to create and share fresh content, not just consume it. We’re looking for apps that drive repeated and consistent use from customers to become a part of their everyday lives and routines when mobile. We’re also looking for apps that take advantage of the mobile capabilities of Windows Phone, providing a device-centric or unique experience optimized to take advantage of device features. Apps that intelligently and creatively utilize on-device features, such as GPS, NFC, sensors, and the camera, do well among users and in our assessment. We also evaluate the originality and innovation of an app’s individual features as compared with other Windows Phone apps. Is it different? Is it better? Finally, the overall mobile experience and features of an app should provide a strong visual impact in a way that incorporates high-quality visuals and imagery.
Translator is an app that has very good Utility. It has original, impressive features that make you want to show off the app to friends, and it brings value to everyday life. Urbanspoon is another strong example of good Utility, providing foodies a resource to find great places to eat. This app also has a clever and helpful integration of GPS, NFC, and Speech.
This area is all about making customers smile or say “Wow” when they use an app. Apps that succeed in the Enjoyment category make meaningful use of the unique Windows Phone differentiating features (e.g., Live Tiles, Lenses, Speech integration, Wallet, In-App purchase, Pin-to-Start) that bring customers closer to their friends, family, content, and other parts of their lives. Developers who create high Enjoyment apps take advantage of the Windows Phone modern UI design principles including typography, iconography, Tiles, bold color schemes, panoramas, and concepts of motion to make their apps stand out elegantly. In this area, we’re also looking for apps that provide cross-product synergy. When an app allows customers to use its experience on Windows Phone, Windows, and Xbox, it enables the customers to carry part (or all) of their app experience with them in a meaningful way across all 3 screens.
4th & Mayor is an app that demonstrates high Enjoyment, offering customers a dynamic experience with a Live Tile, relevant push notifications, and outstanding use of modern UI. Netflix is another app in this category with great cross-product synergy, such as allowing users to queue and consume content between Windows Phone, Windows, and Xbox.
I hope this information begins to give you more insight into how we assess and choose apps for high-visibility promotion to customers and gives you an edge in the Windows Phone Next App Star contest, where 50% of your app’s assessment will be based on these quality measures.
We can’t wait to see your latest innovations – we have a lot of fun exploring your apps – thank you!
*Contest open only to students, hobbyists, or developers in the field of software technology 18+. Submission period ends 3/5/13, and public voting period ends 4/8/13. For details, see Official Rules.