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This is part one of a 2-part blog post. You can read the second part here.

In late May, I had released an update for my game, Word Ways, and various other features were planned for and coming down the pipe.

I had been working on refactoring my tutorials when I got to sit down with my “ghost producer” who had a chat with me. He sat down and discussed how important it was for me to update my marketing assets. Basically, everything that leads and try to convert a potential customer to download the app. The equivalent of an web app’s landing page and conversion funnel.

This challenged, motivated and re-prioritized me to work on my marketplace assets before moving on.

Not only was I frustrated but it scared the hell out of me since I had never designed an icon or worked on any production level art. This a large branding task that pushed every knowledge I had, not only had I never used Illustrator, but I’d also have to capture footage, edit a trailer and more.

A snippet from the trailer

Here are the first 5 lessons and validations from creating my Google Play marketplace assets. The next five, I’ll be sharing with you next week.

Lesson #1 – KISS and deliver

More of an affirmation than a lessons. 1 week to learn Illustrator, design and build an icon, re-write marketplace description, create new assets, and put together a new trailer.

This would have not been possible at all if I didn’t keep every task simple and effective. A big part of how I chose to go about this, had to do with picking a simple graphic design aesthetic, creating a layout, designing a few assets, writing my marketing script, and getting it done.

Before I begin anything, I write down a deliverable list, and so, it went as follows:

  1. Define, write and sell the product’s top 5 selling moments
  2. Match the 5 moments with the right screenshots
  3. Capture the right in-game footage to communicate the 5 moments
  4. Design, review, iterate and complete the new Word Ways Icon
  5. Design, review, iterate and complete the new marketplace assets
  6. Design, review, iterate and complete the new marketplace trailer
  7. Upload all content to Google Play
  8. Update marketplace description
  9. Upload trailer to Youtube and link to Google Play via annotations

Lesson #2 – Create as many rough drafts as possible

You probably already know this. The best thing you can do early on in any project, is prototype as fast as possible to prove some theories. I should have spent more than 20 minutes working on it, but I excuse myself due to quickly getting my vision on paper and communicate the design I thought of.

Quick, rough, and not very satisfying sketches

Rough drafts

Fortunately, the main goal here, wasn’t to get a large variety and find a high performing icon. I needed a cleaner, more contemporary icon, that I knew the design and had the files to iterate on.

Lesson #3 – Just get it done

Another affirmation, this project was perfect to practice the “peel off band-aid” scenario.

Initial Icon Renders

first_icon_renders

I estimated (based on having never done this) that it would probably take me at least 3 days to create an usable icon. I wouldn’t be comfortable with the first icon, I’d need to iterate on it at least a few times before arriving at something, and well…. I just needed to deliver it. The icon was just 1 out of 10 deliverables.

Final Icon Render.

  • Working out the screenshots and language took roughly 1.5 days
  • Working out the trailer and capturing footage took roughly 2.5 days
  • Working out the icon took roughly 2 days

Lesson #4 – Have a group of trusted colleagues

It’s important to have a team. When you don’t, find mentors and friends to create a “ghost board” for you to bounce your ideas around. Make sure they are progress and result oriented.

Pow-wowing at the old Launch Academy office

Every chunk of content that I generate, I generally run it past a group of trusted individuals for feedback and critique. I have previously worked on my projects from within a tech incubator in Vancouver called Launch Academy. Being surrounded in that environment is amazing and the value of their feedback is extremely high.

Lesson #5 – Don’t trust anyone

Not you or anyone can predict the market, only data will tell you that. One of the main steps that I haven’t gone through, is measuring my icon’s performance against other potential designs.

Websites like www.usabilityhub.com and www.pickfu.com allow you to create designs, and post these to a large targeted group of users, who get to navigate your design or click on what they see first, to figure out version performs best (a/b test). For a pretty good price, you can get some valuable insight into what’s going on.

I ran A/B tests when first establishing the aesthetics for Word Ways.

This is something that I’ll most likely undertake again with Icons. But before I do, I need to create new variations and will most likely be using small FB campaigns, to measure how it performs in an environment with real customers.

However, before spending money, one of the things you can do is make sure to take a screenshot of some of your favourite games, and lay out your icon besides them to compare. Does it stand out from the rest? Does it give you some ideas on how to improve it?

Another thing you can do is replace all the icons with different versions of your own. See which one you think is best! Consider looking at different layouts such as how apps appear on tablets.

This is the end of Part 1.

Part 2 will focus a lot more on marketing, how to write your trailer’s language, how to engage your viewers, important video editing lessons, and some unexpected Google Plus and Google Play organic traffic activity that I wasn’t even aware of.

I’ll finish up by going over how I am setting up all of this together to form a conversion funnel, linking up youtube, and attempting to drive users to my community and app.