Last week, I bitched about iOS games, notably the general poor quality. Now I’m going to moan about websites. If you’ve created an app, I’ll visit your website in one of two capacities: as a consumer or as a journalist. Often, I’ll be a consumer and a journalist, just to confuse you.

As a consumer, here’s what I want to know:

  1. What does your product do? Describe it to me in under 50 words. Don’t say you can’t do that; and if you genuinely can’t write those words, hire a copywriter. They’ll likely bash out 50 words for a tin of beans. (And, yes, I know you want to say more than 50 words, but you can do that elsewhere. Think of your intro like a book jacket: publishers don’t print the entire story of a novel on the cover.)
  2. How much does your product cost? Don’t make me guess! Don’t make me launch iTunes. I hate iTunes. Just put a very obvious price sticker on the web page, even if it’s just in US dollars and you’re pretending the Euro and other currencies don’t exist.
  3. What does your app look like? Don’t compress your images to tiny thumbnails—it’s not 1995. If you’re not showing full-size iPhone grabs, you’re an idiot. iPad grabs should be at least half size. And don’t bung all kinds of junk over the grabs—ensure your app or game shines through, not your marketing drivel.
  4. Why do you hate me? This is specifically aimed at you if you’re using video instead of a screen grab. I don’t have time for that. I don’t have time for your dissolves and your ‘funny’ edits. Don’t fob me off with a video from YouTube that will take ages to load or boot an instance of Flash that will subsequently kick Safari in the nuts, or I will have to come round there and smack you.
  5. Where can I buy it? Provide a link to your App Store page, in case I want to buy your app. Don’t make me go to iTunes and type this in myself. I am lazy, and so is everyone else. Also, do you really want me to go to the App Store with the full intention of buying your product and then bump into NanoStudio or Dark Nebula 2 on the home page? That’s a battle you cannot win. Also, make your direct link big. Don’t hide it at the bottom of the page, in dark grey on a slightly darker grey background. You’re not a web-design agency from 1998.
  6. Where can I moan to you about your app? Yeah, you’re just a team of three and you don’t have time to deal with loads of email. Tough. If I’ve bought your product and it’s not working, I want to tell you. ‘Get Satisfaction’ does not count, because it doesn’t enable you to get satisfaction—you just get annoyed about the vague replies to a billion existing topics. A forum does not count, unless you are on there every day and answer every question (which you won’t), and, besides, I might not want to put my comment out there for everyone to see. So just put a form online or an email address—and when that message comes in, respond to it.

As a journalist, here’s what I want to know:

  1. All of the above six points. Seriously. If you don’t provide that information right from the start, the chances of me wanting to review your product drop by about eleven billion percent.
  2. Where can I download full-quality and full-size PNG images of your app that aren’t covered in garbage? I don’t care how you do this. A ZIP of PNG files is fine. 36 bonus points if you bundle them with a quick review guide. Just don’t make me beg. And if you’re a games dev, don’t tell me to take the grabs myself. For the record, I do try to do this for every review I write, but when you’re already using two thumbs to hurl your virtual car around a virtual corner at a virtual 100 miles per hour, it’s not exactly simple to also hit ‘home’ plus ‘lock’.
  3. How do I get in touch with you? No, ‘Get Sodding Satisfaction’ still doesn’t count. Give me an email address, such as Or give me a contact form—I don’t care. But here’s the thing: answer my email. Really. By not answering emails from frazzled, stressed-out journos, you’re reducing your chances of coverage by so many percent that a number doesn’t even exist to say how big the reduction actually is. It’s that big.

Usefully, if you’re not an iOS developer, these rules all still apply, so don’t think you’re off the hook, Mac- or Windows-dev person.

Next in this stunning series: helpful hints about why your iTunes App Store page sucks, and what you can do about it.