Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How to Rock Your App's Description in the App Store

In response to requests from our mobile partners, InstantEncore has added a new field to the Basic Settings for your mobile app:  the App Store Description.

What is it?

As the name indicates, the App Store Description is an open text field in which you may enter the description of your mobile app as you would like for it to appear in the iTunes and Google Play app stores.

When a mobile user searches for your app in iTunes or Google Play, they land on an information page for your app containing your App Store Description as well as screenshots from your app.  The description is your opportunity to introduce mobile users to your app, let them know what they can do with it, and entice them to download it.

Tips for Rocking the Description

Briefly describe what your app does in 
the first 175 characters. Apple hides 
the rest of it behind a "More" link.

  1. Capture their attention with the first two lines of text. The app information page in the iTunes app store displays 175 characters of the description with a "More" link to open the remaining text.  So it's important that the opening of your description grabs the reader's attention and prompts them to tap the "More" link.

    Summarize what your app does and why it's awesome in the first two lines.  Use active verb phrases to help keep the text engaging.  Craft this intro text to end mid-phrase so that it prompts the user to tap "More" to finish the sentence they are reading.

  2. Highlight key features.  Mobile users read app descriptions to learn what the app will enable them to do before deciding whether or not to download it. Make a list of your app's most important and enticing features.  Again, using active verb phrases will prompt the user to envision themselves using your app in the described manner.  Be sure to highlight the unique nature of the content within your app.

    This is also a great place to tell your potential app subscribers how you plan to use the Push Notification feature.  What type of messaging will they receive if they opt-in to you receive these? How will these messages be useful for them?  People tend to opt-in for push notes if they know in advance what types of messages they will receive.

  3. Keep it concise.  While the app stores allow your description to be up to 4,000 characters in length, no one really wants to read that long of an app description.  You should be able to inform the user about your app and compel them to download it with no more than 700 characters.

  4. Make it easy-to-read.  Mobile users expect to be able to scan your description quickly and easily to ascertain what your app does. Avoid writing in paragraph format.  Use bullets and line breaks to foster scanning the text.

  5. Include single-line excerpts from reviews.  Once your app has received positive feedback from users, experts or media sources, add excerpts from these comments to your app description to bring in a bit of external validation.

  6. Update your app description on a regular basis.  As the features, functionality and content in your app change, update the description to reflect the evolution of your app.

How to Create or Change the App Description

Regardless of whether your app is already established or if it is yet to be published, we encourage you to create your own app description:
  • If you have not yet launched your mobile app, you will need to add the app description before your app may be published.  
  • If your app is already established, InstantEncore created an app description for you based on our template as well as the specific features you utilized within the mobile suite at the time of the app's launch.  We ask that you review your app's current description in the app store and modify it to your satisfaction.
The App Store Description field is located in the Permanent Settings section of the Basic Settings page in the Mobile area of the administrative control panel.  
  • Log into your account and go to Mobile >> Basic Settings
  • Scroll down to find the field marked App Store Description.

  • Simply add the description in the text box.  It's that easy.
    • If you are not sure what to write, click on the "see template" link in the paragraph under the text field, and a box containing text generated by our template will appear.
    • You may copy text from this box and paste it into the App Store Description field, where you can then edit it as you like.
  • If you are changing your App Store Description, please notify us at support@instantencore.com as we will need to submit the change to Apple and Google Play for approval.
    • Bear in mind that it can take up to 10 business days for the app store approval to be completed.

Monday, October 28, 2013

New Style Options for Your Mobile App

There are two new features in the InstantEncore mobile suite which further expand your ability to control the look and feel of your mobile app.

Light and Dark Themes

For the past three years, the InstantEncore mobile suite has had a single streamlined theme with white text over your custom background image or color.  Given the constraint of white text, this style theme was intended to include a darker background image or color to provide strong contrast to the text.  Correspondingly, this original theme is known as the "dark" theme.

One of the new features in the mobile suite is the addition of a "light" theme, featuring black text and intended to be combined with a lighter (or even white) background image or color.

To alter your mobile app's theme, go to Mobile >> Style in the control panel. The system defaults to the original dark theme.  You may change the theme by using the drop-down tool to select "Light."

Custom CSS Tool

The other new feature added to the mobile suite is a Custom CSS tool which allows you to set style and formatting preferences for custom content tabs you create for your mobile app.  

By creating custom tabs in the mobile suite, you are able to create content areas in your mobile app to meet the specific needs of your patrons. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) allow you to change the style or presentation of HTML code in these custom tabs.

The CSS Tool is an advanced area of the control panel and should only be edited by someone with previous CSS and HTML experience.  If you do not have this previous experience, then please consult a web designer before making any changes to this area.

To access the CSS Tool, go to Mobile >> Style and select "Manage custom CSS styles."

If you have any questions about either of these new features, or any other elements in the control panel, please contact us at support@instantencore.com

Monday, August 19, 2013

Recent Changes to Twitter and What That Means for Your App

For those of you who have your mobile app configured to pull content from your Twitter stream into the Buzz area of your app, you may have noticed that your Twitter posts have not been appearing in your app.

What happened

Earlier this summer, Twitter made a major change to how they feed content to other web services by switching from RSS / XML code to JSON.  Correspondingly, the RSS / XML feed link you entered into the Buzz area of the mobile suite is no longer active.

What you can do

The infrastructure for the Buzz area currently relies on RSS / XML code to import content from social media and other sites, so incorporating your Twitter content into the Buzz section of your app is not possible at this time.

While we explore our options for reintegrating Twitter with Buzz, we suggest creating a custom tab in your mobile app for your Twitter stream.

  1. From the InstantEncore dashboard, go to Mobile >> Tabs.
  2. Scroll down past the list of current tabs to the section labeled "Add a Custom Tab."
  3. Enter a text label for the new tab.  You might use "Twitter," "Updates," or "Follow us on Twitter."
  4. Select the icon to associate with the new tab.  We have included a commonly recognized Twitter icon in our library for you to use, if you like.
  5. In the "Content" area, select "Display an existing web page."
  6. In the URL box, enter http://mobile.twitter.com/YourTwitterName.
  7. Click on the "Create" button.
Your Twitter profile will now appear as a tab within your mobile app. It's that easy!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Home, Sweet Home Screens - Three Options for Your App

As with all of our updates and development, we wanted version 2.0 of the mobile suite to address requests from our partners.  One such request has been for InstantEncore to provide different options for the Home screen, which is the first content area encountered when the app or mobile website launches.  In response to this request, InstantEncore now offers three Home screen options for your mobile app and website.

Icons ex: Berkeley Repertory Theatre


The Icons option provides a 3 x 3 table of graphics representing tabs or content areas within the app.  
  • This table of icons provides one-touch access to nine tabs in your app.  
  • If you have more than nine tabs, the bottom-right position will contain an ellipsis with the word "More" underneath.  (See example on right.) When you tap the ellipsis icon, you will see a page listing all of the remaining tabs in your app.
  • You may choose your icons from our library of graphics, or you may upload your own.  Custom icons should be sized to 60p X 60p and uploaded as PNG files with a transparent background.
  • In addition to providing navigation at-a-glance, the Icons option gives the greatest visibility to your custom background image.
Slideshow ex: Chattanooga
Symphony & Opera


For those who prefer a more graphically-focused Home screen, the Slideshow option allows you to create a series of full-screen slides connected to content within your app.
  • Each slide contains an uploaded image with descriptive text overlaid in the upper left corner and a call-to-action overlaid in the lower right corner.
  • We recommend uploading a 1024p X 768p image so that it appears vibrantly on tablets as well as smartphones.
  • You may use HTML markup tags to modify the descriptive and call-to-action text.
  • The call-to-action text may be linked directly to content within the app.
  • Slides may be added or deleted at any time.  Also, their order may be changed at will.
  • Slides may be loaded and scheduled in advance for seamless transitions throughout your season.
What's New ex: The Royal Conservatory

What's New

If you prefer an update-focused Home screen or you simply like the look and features of our original Home screen, then the What's New option is for you.
  • This option features a "welcome message" area at the top with a thumbnail image and 90 characters of text that can be linked directly to content within your app.
  • The second area features an upcoming event.  This may default to the next immediate event on our calendar, or you may decide to feature a particular event or no event at all.
  • The third area highlights the most recent content from the Buzz, Music and Video areas of the control panel.  As new content is added to these areas, that content will automatically appear in the What's New feed on the Home screen.

Don't Want to Choose Just One?  You Don't Have To!

Remember, the Home screen is just the first content screen that your visitors see when they open the mobile app or website.  If you like more than one of these options, you can choose one for the first position and use either or both of the others as tabs within your app.

For a step-by-step look at how to set up your Home screen, check out this tutorial video.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New Series of Tutorial Videos for Making the Most of Your Mobile App

With the release of version 2.0 of the InstantEncore mobile suite, we have created a series of short, tutorial videos to guide you through particular tasks and content areas in the control panel.  You may view all of the videos as a YouTube playlist or individually, as follows:

The Basics

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rejuvenate Your App This Spring with Version 2.0

Spring is here!  Throughout the winter, the InstantEncore team has been working intently on the next generation of our mobile suite.  And now, we are excited to spring forward with Version 2.0!

Here is a quick glimpse at some of the changes we've made:

Version 2.0 displays a uniform
presentation across all platforms
Fresh, Consistent Look
Version 2.0 has a new look that appears uniformly across all three platforms:  mobile website, Android app, and iOS app.  No matter which mobile platform they are using, your app users will have a consistent aesthetic experience.

New Home Screen Options
Version 2.0 has three options for your app's home screen:  Icons, Slideshow, and What's New.
  • The Icons screen displays a 3 x 3 grid of icons connecting to various tabs in the app, which provides clear and concise navigation for app users.  If you have 10 or more tabs in your app, the last icon in the grid will be an ellipsis (...) with the word "More" underneath.  The More icon leads to a list of the remaining tabs.
  • The Slideshow screen displays a series of full-screen images with a title/description in the upper left corner and a call-to-action area in the bottom right.  The user taps the call-to-action area to go to the content in the app and swipes horizontally to move from one slide to the next.
  • The What's New screen is the same great home screen option from version 1.0 with a welcome message, featured event, and dynamic content stream drawn from the Music, Videos and Buzz areas of the control panel.

Can't choose? No problem.  You can select one to be the home screen and use the others as the 2nd and 3rd tabs in your app.  Use as many as you like in whatever order you prefer.  It's all about what works best for you and your audience.

Productions Tab
Productions Tab
In the previous version of the app, each individual event was displayed in chronological order on the Events tab.  With version 2.0, you also have the option to use the Productions tab, which groups multi-day events together in the app's list of events.  When a user taps on the production, they then have the ability to select a specific date for further information, links to online ticketing, etc.  The Productions tab allows theatres, opera companies, presenters, and other performing arts organizations to display their seasons in a manner that is more easily scanned by their app users.

Tablet Version
Your mobile apps look better than ever on iPads and Android tablets.  Version 2.0's apps scale to fit tablet screens while retaining crystal clear picture quality.

App users can share your content on Facebook
Facebook Integration
Version 2.0 makes it easy for your app users to share content from your app will their Facebook friends.  With a tap of the finger, they can post events, videos, music, news items, and more directly to their Facebook profiles.

Support for Vimeo
That's right.  With version 2.0, you can import videos into your app from Vimeo by using embed codes.

Live Video Tab
Expanded Support for Live Video Platforms
We have expanded the Live Video feature to work with Ustream and YouTube Live accounts as well as Livestream.

New Live Video Tab
Now, when you connect your mobile app with a live video broadcast, a special tab will be the first tab that users see while the event is airing.  The tab contains your description of the live video event as well as a video icon, which takes the mobile user to the broadcast when tapped.

Upgraded Google Analytics
With version 2.0, you are able to track the usage traffic for your mobile website separately from your Apple and Android apps using Google Analytics.  In doing so, you are able to determine which content areas have higher usage rates and if there is a difference between usage patterns for those who visit the mobile website versus those who download the app to their mobile devices.

Over the next few weeks, we will explore particular features in greater depth with an eye toward how to maximize them to provide your audience with the most engaging mobile experience.

If you can't wait and would like to learn more now, visit the Mobile Suite Tutorial playlist on YouTube for step-by-step instructions on how to work with these new features and more.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mobile Engagement Consultations at APAP 2013

Mobile technology use has skyrocketed over the past few years. Audiences expect to be able to access your content, share it with their friends, purchase tickets and more - all from the palms of their hands. In addition to access, audiences also expect your content to be optimized for use on their smartphones and tablet computers.

Many performing arts presenters and touring artists do not believe that they have the resources to engage mobile audiences.  Not true.  You can engage with patrons on mobile devices even if you have NO budget and little time.

During the 2013 APAP Conference, InstantEncore's CMO David Dombrosky will be on hand to provide guidance on developing a mobile engagement strategy to match your goals and budget. One-on-one consultations may be scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 12 from 9am-5pm and Sunday, Jan. 13 from 9am-5pm. Email David at david@instantencore.com to schedule a consultation.