A Reviewer’s Guide to Developing a Successful iOS App

Mobile development is an incredible technological field. The rate of growth in app markets is insurmountable, and if you’re brave enough to try your hand at developing an iOS app or game, you need to be aware of a few basic tips for a successful app. These tips come from Sarah Hanlon, who has been reviewing iPhone and iPad apps for over 8 years.

Do Your Research

First, thoroughly research the subject of the iOS app or game you’re looking to develop. If you’d like to create the next best productivity app or card game, you need to check out what other iOS developers have created. You’ll get a good idea of what is successful and what isn’t.

When it comes to niches, obviously games are the most popular downloads by a landslide, but this also means there are new iPhone and iPad games available every minute. It’s better to focus on a small niche where you’re more likely to be found than willingly be a very small fish in a very large ocean.

There are plenty of resources available for iPhone and iPad developers, especially in the form of books. Amazon has a great selection of books for developers, and all of them contain valuable information that’ll help you master your development skills.

App/Game Design

Source: Simple Design

Once you’ve settled on the kind of app or game you’d like to develop, you need to focus on design concepts. The most important part is to take your time and not throw something together in a couple of weeks. Great apps and games require proper attention to detail.

The most important part is to focus on usability and functionality. If you’re developing a productivity app for iOS, be sure it’ll help users actually be productive by helping them access things quickly and in an organized manner.

If you’re developing a game, make sure menus are easy to navigate and that players won’t be confused by a clunky layout that takes away from their gaming experience.


We all know that the overall goal of app and game development is to make money. However, there are good ways to do this, and very bad ways.

One of the worst things iPhone and iPad developers do is flood their app or game with intrusive advertisements, occasionally placing them in the middle of the screen where users are more likely to accidentally tap on them. Not only is this annoying, but it’s also a violation of App Store policy.

If your iOS app or game includes in-app purchases, it’s a good idea to omit advertisements. Users can tell when a developer is being greedy, and it’s a huge turn off.


iphone proofreadWhile slang terms and alternative spellings of words are acceptable in casual environments, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors have no place in the app development world.

Remember, you’re providing a product to customers, and you have to look professional. If you’re creating an app in a language that’s not your native tongue, be sure to have a few friends proofread everything before submitting it to the App Store.

Even if you’re fluent in the app’s language, you should have your friends proofread everything.

App Store Descriptions

This is the storefront for your app or game. Its App Store description is a make-or-break for many iPhone and iPad users, and if you write a bad description, users will think that your app reflects the same quality.

Use the first few lines of your description to tell a potential user exactly what the point of your app or game is. Remember, this text is visible by default, whereas users have to click “…More” button.

Your first few lines are your sales pitch that tell the user why they want your app or game, so make sure it’s useful information. Assume they’ll never read the rest of your description.


Source: App-Promo.com
Source: App-Promo.com

If we look at the App Store as a huge ocean that’s full of fish, which bait is most likely to attract them – stationary bait or bait that causes a lot of commotion? You’ll never have a successful app if you “set it and forget it”, hoping that downloads come rushing in without any extra effort on your behalf. You have to have a marketing strategy in place before you even submit your app or game to the App Store, and this usually includes setting aside a bit of money to pay for services.

Social media tends to be underused among the developer community, which is truly a shame. One of the first things you need to do is set up profiles on all major social network sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, and more) and work on building a following.

There are plenty of tools to help you manage multiple social media services, one of which is Hootsuite. This is where the marketing fund comes in handy, as powerful tools like this often require monthly subscriptions to access all features. If you use them dutifully, you’ll make your money back and then some.

App reviews are another way to go, but this can be a tricky marketing endeavor. Many tech sites publish iPhone and iPad app reviews for free, but the chances of actually having your app reviewed are incredibly slim. Some review sites (like iOS App Lists) charge a fee to have an app or game reviewed, but usually these reviews are better quality and you’re guaranteed to have it completed.


Lastly, there are a few DON’Ts that I want to cover. These are mistakes that will likely be fatal not only to your app or game, but to your reputation as a developer.

buy app store reviews
Source: MacRumors.com

DON’T purchase 5 star reviews of your app or game. Not only is this against App Store policy, but it’s incredibly easy for users to spot fake reviews. Trust me, purchasing reviews is the fastest way to wreck your reputation on the App Store. It’s simply not worth it. Instead, ask friends and family to download your app or game and take the time to leave a review. You already know they’re likely going to give you a good review, plus the review will be authentic.

DON’T abuse your users by providing them with a shoddy app or game. As an app developer, it should be your goal to create quality apps and games that will have users coming back for more. iPhone and iPad users tend to be loyal to developers who provide them with great apps and games, so focus on making a great first impression in order to build a following.

DON’T develop apps and games solely for profit. Users can tell when an app developer is out to make a quick buck, and generally they don’t like it. Making money from your app or game should be a benefit, not the sole reason behind its creation. App development is a trial-and-error process, and you have to be in it for the long haul in order to make a decent amount of money from it.

DON’T abuse push notifications, device permissions, or social network integration. Users hate having their lives interrupted every few minutes by an app that’s constantly asking for an App Store rating or for you to come back and play. Also, don’t force users to share something via social media in order to unlock something.

These guidelines come from over 8 years of experience with writing app reviews. They’re not meant to be hard-and-fast rules for developing apps, but try to take them into consideration when creating your next iPhone or iPad app/game. You’re a bit more likely to have a successful app if you do!

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