Editor’s note: The following post was written by Visual Studio ALM MVP Ridi Ferdiana
Windows 8 provides you a good opportunity to create your local market. This activity can be done by creating useful and unique Windows Store application. In this article, it provides you an eight tips to sell your software in Windows Store. This tips is intended to individual developer who want to sell their application to the Store. By reading this article, an individual can build and sell a good and appealing product by leaving a common mistake that happens in many individual developer.
Have you heard about long tail opportunity by Chris Anderson? In Windows 8, Long tail means an application that has an opportunity to be used by many people. Long tail is about the market of your software. Long tail is about how you create a huge market from daily use of many consumer application. It’s easy to say but you should try it by “testing the water”. “Testing the water” is deploying your free application to the market and see the result. Here are the walkthrough to do this tips:
1. Visiting Windows store and see what great application there. You can do that by seeing top free category. Figure 1 shows you that many high rating application is a consumer application.
2. Download the software, try a little bit and shape your simple and unique idea. You can do this step iteratively and pick an application that you interested most.
3. Please note, that a good and high rating software is different for each country. If you want to see a top free in another country, just changes your local region to the another country that you wish.
4. It’s your “water test”, so be sure to create as simple as possible Windows store apps. I recommend you to build a software based on blank template in Visual Studio 2012. One page application will do!
5. It’s is your decision to build the free one or directly with the paid one. If you believe your tail market, go build the paid one without “test the water”
Figure 1 Top Free Application as your main idea gateway
Price is about how fast you need to get your ROI (Return of Investment). Giving a high price means you just need less download to cover your ROI? However, giving a high price means your customer need further consideration before he buys your application. Reasonable price is about giving a best buck for their money. In Windows Store, many good and casual application sell in $2.99-$4.99. If you see a further, you can see simple application can be tagged as low as $1.49. So how about your software? Here are the tips:
1. If you did “testing water” and release your free application. You can see how much your application is downloaded. For example, I released my application in November 1, 2012. In November 30, 2012 my free software is downloaded 3000 times. It means the software has 100 times daily. 100 daily download is great! But it is free application, people don’t need further consideration when download your application. The statistic just shows a market opportunity of your application. If you see >100 download you can start build a similar software with a good price and off course better features.
2. As shown in Figure 2, Microsoft give you wide variety of your software price starting $1.49 to $999.99. Pick a good price by considering your investment. For example, if you spent $1000 to build the software and you pick $1.49 for your software, you will get 1$ for each download (there are rule 70% for you and 30% for Store). Therefore, you need 1000 download to get your ROI.
3. Give a good price, look at similar application and put your application price by considering it. Make your potential consumer never think the price when buy your application.
Figure 2 Pick a price tier is about your ROI and Future Revenue
This is the simplest tip in this article. The point is to select all markets as a target of your application. Figure 3 shows how you do that in the Developer dashboard.
Figure 3 Get better visibility by selecting the entire markets
In return, you should create your application with English language and others language that you want to support. A good advice is just use plain English and you are ready to go to reach the markets. You can set the language via Package Manifest in Visual Studio. Figure 4 shows the Package App Manifest in Visual Studio. I recommend you to always recheck the language in Package Manifest by switching to the code view (just right click in Package App Manifest and select view code).
Figure 4 Package app manifest in Visual Studio
Keywords are your key in Windows Store search. Adding a proper keywords will help your customer to get your application based on their need. Windows Store provides you to put seven keywords and you should use wisely. Figure 5 shows you a dialog to put keyword. Here are the tips.
1. Use noun, try to avoid verb if possible. Keyword like ‘travel’ is better than ‘go’,
2. Put similarity. If you have a word about your app, try to find alternative word. For example, if you have a keyword “Finance” you can use other keyword like “Money” or “Wallet”
3. Adding a brand. If you are creating an application that based on popular application you can use that name, of course with their permission.
Figure 5 Keywords in Windows Store
Screenshot is just like your application cover. Great screenshot will give you better opportunity to get the customer. Screenshot is vital for your application. Here are the tips:
1. Never manipulate the image, use just simulator to do the screenshot
2. Upload more than 3 images and describe it wisely
3. Never upload alike screenshot, present your screenshot as your unique value
Figure 6 Screenshot as a cover off your application
If you want your application in a store highlight, my advice is to prepare promotional images. Figure 7 shows that you should create promotional image in four different shape. Create at least one, but I recommend you to create four.
Figure 7 Promotional Image as your added value
When a customer download your application, they should get the best value of their money. Don’t make them disappointed because your application is take longer to download. In this case, efficiency take a serious consideration. Efficiency is not about only about your codes but also about your files. If you build your application based on a Visual Studio Template (like Grid Template), you should aware that some of files is not used. For example, the old icon, the old codes, or the others assets. Visual Studio doesn’t tell you about the unused resources so it is your job to solve it. Here are the tips
1. Visual Studio 2012 has a great template and efficient code samples. Therefore, less of the codes will be unused. The assets like image and icon is mostly unused since you build your own logo. Be sure to remove old logo, splash screen, and others unused assets
2. Reducing the graphics size. PNG can be compressed in several ways. For example you can reduce the quality or color depth. The free application like Paint.NET or Expression Design works great for this.
3. Removing the unused references. For example, you play around with an ads library for Windows 8 and you add the references for it. In the next day you decide not to use it. Visual studio 2012 doesn’t detect that, so it is your job to remove it manually.
Application lifecycle management (ALM) is not only about the Team Foundation Server (TFS) but it also about the software engineering discipline. When you sell your application to the international market, it will take longer than you submit it for specific country. ALM teach us to create efficient development process through define, develop, and operate steps. The point is how you create a release plan for each of your application. Here are the tips:
1. Define you scope application
a. Query a lot about the application keywords that you plan to build.
b. Download or buy the existing app and find your unique value for your application
c. Composing a team at least one developer and one designer.
d. Planning your application, do a shared vision and create the user stories with your designer or developer
e. Reserved your application name in Windows store
f. Choosing whether using HTML5 or C#. Both of them have different productivity angle and it’s different from one team to the others.
g. Kick of the project, and make sure to hit the date. Choose a good date for your customer such as winter season, holiday season, or a black Friday.
h. Set a good price for your customer.
2. Develop your application
a. Setting up the development infrastructure such as TFS, SQL Azure, and others.
b. Developing your application assets. Such as logo, wide logo, notification toast logo, splash screen, and of course a good UX for your application.
c. Building your prototype in one project iteration.
d. Testing your prototype to the potential user, build a list of feedback log.
e. Develop your application, be sure to pass Windows Application Certification Kit (WACK)
f. Do the unit test, do the user acceptance test. Be sure to deliver less bug in first version of your application.
3. Operate your application
a. Fulfill the tax profile as complete as possible.
b. Submit your application to the Windows Store when your tax profile is approved
c. Download and buy your own application when it’s already in the store. Play with your application ask yourself is good or not.
d. Use your application dashboard in Windows Store to see the rating and heard what your customer said in their review.
e. Revise your application and make your customer happy.
Ridi is a lecturer and researcher in Universitas Gadjah Mada Indonesia. He finished doctoral degree in Software Engineering (ALM) focusing in Agile methodology. Since 2007, He has several Microsoft certifications such as MCTS, MCPD, MCITP, and MCT. As an Microsoft MVP, Ridi loves to write his thought at blog.ridilabs.net or tweet on his twitter at @ridife. You can reach Ridi through firstname.lastname@example.org
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The MVP Monday Series is created by Melissa Travers. In this series we work to provide readers with a guest post from an MVP every Monday. Melissa is a Community Program Manager, formerly known as MVP Lead, for Messaging and Collaboration (Exchange, Lync, Office 365 and SharePoint) and Microsoft Dynamics in the US. She began her career at Microsoft as an Exchange Support Engineer and has been working with the technical community in some capacity for almost a decade. In her spare time she enjoys going to the gym, shopping for handbags, watching period and fantasy dramas, and spending time with her children and miniature Dachshund. Melissa lives in North Carolina and works out of the Microsoft Charlotte office.