App Demo Video: The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Killer Preview

app demo video

An demo video, a.k.a app preview, was first released by Apple in iOS 8 at the end of 2014. It was a hit! Everyone got on top of it and started to put together their video to be released in the App Store. With that came a lot of hurdles that many apps had to overcome, which in turn lead to many lessons learned and valuable information released for other apps to follow as a guide.

What we have found most important were 7 key elements that not only will help you create an app demo video (aka App Preview) for the Apple App Store, but also make sure it’s optimizing your app for more downloads. Do your app some justice with this killer guide! No experience needed.

App demo video: why is it important?

It’s because they play a critical role in App Store Optimization (ASO), and more specifically, in conversion. Videos give the user a chance to look into the app before they move forward with a decision to purchase or download it. As a result, App Previews remove the obstacles of unnecessary time and money that the consumer has to spend in order to understand if they’ll use the app or not. There is also the importance of differentiation, because you want to make sure that your app stands out from the rest. Another reason why App Previews are important is for app qualification. You want to make sure your user fits with your app. Is it the app for them, and will they use it? Remember, the App Store tracks users who uninstall your app shortly after installing it. If they do uninstall after install, your app ranking drops, which hurts your discoverability. Targeting the right users here is key, which ties into the last point, discovery. You want to make sure you reach your users in a more creative and captivating way, which is now available via video.

app demo video
Here are our recommendations and steps for creating a captivating and engaging video that’ll encourage your users to download your app. We’ll help you get the most out of all the resources out there to make sure your app preview is not only successful, but also shows a clear explanation to your users of how it works.

1. Constraints

First you have to consider constraints, but don’t think of these as limiting your video, but instead, as a way for you to make sure it’s best optimized for more conversions and sparking your creativity.

  • Video’s must be between 15-30 seconds long.
  • You can only submit one video per every app release, so imagery is crucial.
  • There is only one language allowed in the app preview that’s used globally.
  • Each App Preview requires your app to be compatible with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with a 4-inch Retina display in order to view or submit into the App Store.
  • Content must be age appropriate (ages 4+) so you should stay away from any profanity.

2. Storyboard

app demo video
Second, create a storyboard. Make sure you tell a story that flows and displays a process of how your app functions. Create a timeline of the scenes you are creating within your app and the time frame for each one. This will help you identify exactly what you want your users to see within those 15-30 seconds.

3. Captivation

Next, as you create your storyboard, make sure you highlight 3-5 important areas you want to display in your app. You want to make sure these are your best features that captivate the audience from the very beginning. If you have a game app, consider showing a higher ratio of gameplay to scenes that have been removed, in order to get your audience excited to download the app. Remember, your 3-5 highlights are the most critical, so make them count!

4. Execution

Once you’ve created your storyboard, you’re ready for the next step, the execution of your video. Here’s what you should keep in mind when creating your video:

  • Use QuickTime Player, TechSmith, AppShow or iMovie (all three of which you need no experience and they are free) on your Mac to capture and edit all your video. There are also other great video editing tools that may be even more favorable, such as Final Cut Pro, or Screenflow.
  • Minimize touch visualization and use of ‘floating’ hands or fingers to show touch points. Instead, we recommend you use discrete touch points (only if extremely necessary), and use these to a minimum.
  • Make sure to limit your graphics and copy. If you have to use text, we recommend you to create separate text cards in-between slides that are 75 words or less (in the total video combined). You also want to keep in mind that since your app is available in one language, you want the text to not only be easily understandable, but also making sure it’s readable. Keep away from any mentions of seasonality or events. The key here is to keep your video timeless! Clear is a great example of an app that uses text cards that are readable and transition well throughout the video. Merchants like Retailmenot did a fantastic job at creating text cards that transition smoothly, and are easily readable.[/youtube
  • Keep everything within the app! Don’t go for videos that capture scenes on a live camera—this does not do you any good. It can not only confuse the user, but also make the video hard to understand and follow.
  • Only work with transitions that are simple such as fading or dissolving.
  • Stay away from mentioning any real names, users, personal data, third party logos and trademarks. If you need to show an account, create a proxy one beforehand.
  • Create a horizontal or vertical version of your video (not both).
  • Add in music to your video to give it a little oomph! Make sure you time the action of the video with the music. You don’t want any background noise, so we recommend the music to come from a royalty-free site, such as stock music site, which goes for $50 a song. You can also incorporate sound effects for gestures within the video from applications such as pond5. If you are using music from other recourses, make sure you have licensing rights for any content that you didn’t create. Remember, music will either kill the video, or make it utterly brilliant. Watch how the game, Table Tennis Touch, uses electronic music that ties in with their robot app icon and sets the mood just right.
  • Voiceovers? No problem! Users love them too. However, keep in mind that many global apps do not use voiceovers since the App Store allows only one App Preview in one voiceover language. If you do decide to use voiceovers, make sure it’s a professional one. You want it to resonate with your app. is a brilliant app for quality VO at an affordable rate (typically $100-$200). Mint, available only in the US and Canada, does a terrific job with their voiceover. Since the app is not available on an international level, they are able to get away with having an English only version.
  • Leave out any mentions of pricing, as that’s already displayed in the app preview. But don’t forget! Apple requires you to disclose in-app purchases if your app has this feature. Best place to add this is in the footer or the last frame of your video.
  • Mention any login information that users would need to enter their information in order to register or sign up.
  • Avoid showing any bugs within your app. This may seem like common sense, but you’ll be surprised at what some apps ‘accidentally’ might show!

5. Edit

You will need to edit your app in order to perfect it. Once you created your storyboard and executed it, you may come to find yourself with a video way over the 30-second mark. However, with the right tools and guides (like this!), you can do anything.

6. Export and Upload

This may be easy to comprehend, but it can also be quite challenging to complete without a few errors. Nonetheless, we’ve got you covered! Save yourself from errors and do-overs by following these few steps:

  • Upload your video to iTunes Connect for review along with your next app update. iMovie has an App Preview template, making it quite simple to create your app, especially if you’re not a pro!
    QuickTime Player 7 Pro is perfect for exporting videos to fit all devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad). Use QuickTime Player on OS X with a connected device running on iOS 8. You’ll need to choose ‘New Movie Recording’ and change the inputs to your device.
  • Format your video to guarantee correct playback on the right devices (this may require you to create three different file sizes). Make sure you also select a good thumbnail for the video to attract users to tap play.
    • iPhone: 640×1136 (or 1136×640 for landscape mode). The video resolution should be 1080×1920 (iPhone 5/5S and iPhone 6 Plus); use a resolution of 750×1334 (for iPhone 6).
    • iPad: 900×1200.
  • If you do not submit a video file for a particular screen size, devices with that screen size don’t go back to another version.
  • Export in the highest quality available (i.e. Apple ProRes 422 .mov file from iMovie).
  • Insert the .mov file into MPEG Streamclip, cypher and export it to H.264 mp4.
  • Quality of the video should be at 75. Levels near 70 begin impacting the export quality perceptible in iTunes Connect. If you need to downsize, use Handbrake. For upsizing, try MPEG Streamclip. For all cyphering, try using QuickTime 7 Pro.
  • Export and upload the video to iTunes Connect like you do with app screenshots. Please note: you can only upload videos with Yosemite. If you’re running Safari on Mavericks, iTunes Connect will not accept the upload. iTunes Connect only accepts a .mov file using H.264 at 30fps.
  • Don’t re-size the cover image of the video until it’s been successfully submitted.
  • Always remember…you only get one chance to submit your video for every version of your app that is released. You will not be able to repurpose older versions of your app videos. So make sure what you say ok to, is what you really, really want!

7. Be unique

Always note that your end result of your app preview should deliver exactly what it displays to your users. You want to tempt people to download your product.

  • Need some inspiration? Apps such as Clear, Tango and Grubhub have great examples of app previews with seamless transactions, ideal selections of music, detailed visuals of how their apps work from start to finish, and the correct use of copy within the video.
  • Share your App Previews via the web and social media such as Vimeo, Facebook and Instagram to get the word out. Too much is never too little.

8. Test, test and test again

Last but not least, when your video is ready to launch, we recommend you test and see how your audience will react before you present it to your potential users. There are excellent services like TestNest that you can use to make sure your video is optimized to it’s fullest potential. Have multiple versions but not sure which one will capture your audience? TestNest has the ability to analyze which (video) option will most attract your audience before your app hits the store.

TestNest - A/B app page testing platform

Here’s what we can do for your App Preview:

  1. Perform a test with and without video variations, and analyze the difference in the download rate. You will then be able to have a much clearer understanding of what to expect when you release your App Preview in the App Store.
  2. Get insight on the types of tractions each piece of the video receives. From views to view times, to fast forwards and more, you’ll be able to see what parts of your video seem most compelling and which ones are not.

Practice makes perfect! Sign up now and start testing your video.