What’s the difference between being asked to “make something” versus being asked to “make a dish from these 5 ingredients?” Constraints. It’s hard to start a project with a blank, white page, no deadlines, and no boundaries.
The fact is: constraints drive creativity.
You can see it in the work of creative geniuses from Ernest Hemingway to Dr Seuss. From Frank Gehry to your neighbor kid playing with Lincoln Logs.
Constraints also play a huge role in App Preview videos (brief demos that will be included next to the screenshots in iTunes App Store listings this fall). Apple introduced a set of guidelines during their hour-long session at WWDC that define a limited set of production elements. Screen recorded video – yes. Camera video – no. Background music – yes. Animated fingers – no.
We believe these constraints will drive new levels of creativity and we’re building a tool called TechSmith AppShow to help developers, designers, trainers, and marketers create amazing App Preview videos within the constraints.
Find your story
Since videos are limited to 30 seconds in duration, your focus should be to give potential users a clear sense of how your app works and what’s special about it. Think of this video less like an advertisement and more like a demo. Instead of trying to show everything your app can do, focus on a few killer features and use those to hook people into downloading.
Before you start recording, make a list of what 3-4 features you want to show in your video.
I know, it’s like asking mom to choose her favorite child.
But think about which features get the best response when you demo the app for people. The features that make people say, “I totally need that!” And if your list is still too big, narrow it down by choosing interactions that require motion to really understand. Your App Store listing will still have screenshots, too.
Next, think about sequence. Is there a way to string together your key features to show a natural progression? A camera app may want to show a capture, edit, share sequence. A fitness app may want to hint at progress from zero to hero. If you can make your app feel “lived in” and suggest progression from the place users are to a place they want to be…so much the better.
Know the rules of the road
These are drawn from Apple’s WWDC presentation. Be sure to check the official Apple guidelines, which we hear will be updated with additional details closer to iOS 8 launch.
Do – choose either horizontal or portrait orientation for your video. If you have a universal app, you can create one video for iPhone and one for iPad.
Do – make sure the majority of your content is captured from your app.
Do – use text callouts and narration sparingly, if at all. You get one App Preview video for all languages. And your app should take center stage.
Do – feel free to include music that sets the right mood, so long as you have rights for commercial usage.
Do – overlay a “requires in-app purchase” callout any time you show something that requires an in-app purchase.
Do – keep the video and poster frame (thumbnail) 4+ rated.
Don’t – use real-world video footage captured with a camera…unless you have a camera app and you’re showing how it captures real-world images or video.
Don’t – overlay a graphic or photo of a finger to show where touches occur. Subtle, animated “dot” graphics are okay.
Don’t – use third-party images, music, logos, or trademarks without permission.
Don’t – use any names or data that belong to real people.
Don’t – confuse viewers with text or graphic callouts that look like they could be part of the app interface. Use interstitial text cards between clips (if necessary) instead.
Don’t – reference sales, specials, seasonal messages, or other apps.
Working on your own App Preview video? The guys and gals at techsmith love to see it! They’re always looking for great examples to share with their AppShow newsletter list. Leave them a comment below or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Infograph and Content Courtesy of TechSmith