As many PC users may have noticed, the Google Play Store has undergone a massive update to its layout and design. The old version of the Play Store did have its issues. Poor navigation, limited access to subcategories, difficulty in discovering free apps and over-reliance on editor’s choices (problems not dissimilar to other app stores, by the way) made it difficult to discover new and useful applications.
The new version however has been, well, less than well-received:
Here’s a glimpse of the new Google Play Store homepage layout:
The homepage itself actually seems to include a number of solutions to the problems that plagued the old Play Store.
A recommended section is forefront, rather than hidden away, helping users discover apps that are more relevant to their personal preferences and use cases. There are also a greater number of categories on the home page, rather than just editors picks and top downloads. Now, new groupings of apps, including Movie Apps, Communication, Personalisation and Apps to Watch. A greater number of apps now appear on the homepage increasing exposure for developers. There are fewer display characters for app titles, a change which may impact how some developers have named their apps, but overall the homepage looks like a step in the right direction.
Yet for all of the improvements in navigation and discover-ability, there is a hugely critical flaw with the new Play Store design – and that is the updated individual app page.
From my point of view as an app creator, here are a few of the problems:
– G+ recommendations no longer show at the top of the page. A few hundred ticks of social proof seem to have disappeared with the new G+ button at the top.
– New layout for screenshots is ungainly and unattractive, and developers with less than 6-7 screenshots will need to rethink that real estate.
– Additional information, which previously sat alongside the description and made it easy for users to see number of installs (social proof), device compatibility, rating and file size are now almost hidden at the very bottom of the page.
– Reviews are displayed in an ad-hoc, almost Pinterest-style next to the star rating. This alone isn’t a huge problem but one of the Play Store’s greatest features was that it allowed developers to respond to reviews on their app page, indicating both a solution for previous issues and an involved support team. These responses have now vanished unless you click on the reviews themselves. Likewise, the ability to rate reviews for their usefulness is hidden too.
Overall the new layout seems to provide less information in a larger amount of space while diminishing the importance of developer involvement.
Besides the new design changes, the rollout of these Google Play Store updates seems to have introduced quite a few bugs. While we can expect these will be dealt with swiftly, expect some issues if you decide to take a look at the new Play Store.
What are the takeaways for app creators?
There are a few important steps app creators should take right away.
1) Do a search for your app. In search results, has your app’s name been truncated by the new title length restrictions? You may need to update your app title.
2) Check your app screenshots. Do you have enough to make the page look nice? You may need to add some new screenshots to the page.
3) Check your app description. The new Play Store is currently experiencing a number bugs that are affecting font and style, particularly if you previously had any special characters in your app description. You may need to remove those characters (like stars or bullet points) to get the description to display correctly.
4) Get familiar with the new Play Store layout. This may be your app’s new home for quite a while, regardless of how you feel about the layout, so it’s worth taking a look!