Product Designer


Case studies and thoughts on design

The Apple App Store: Persona to Prototype

The Apple App Store is an app all iOS users are familiar with. The App Store is the sole repository for native iOS apps; any user downloading an app that didn't come pre-installed on their phone needs to use the App Store to find and download the app. This puts discoverability and accessibility at the core of the App Store's usability.

Featured/Home Screen

Featured/Home Screen

Search Screen

Search Screen

Search Results

Search Results


I started this project with an assumption based on personal experiences and casual discussions; discoverability in the app store is lacking and the majority of people know what app they want to download when they open the App Store.  Speaking with my friends I couldn't find anyone who used the search feature as a way to discover new apps to meet their needs.  However, given the wide demographic of users this app is built for I was open to the possibility that perhaps those who aren't affluent with technology are meeting their needs via the App Store's search feature.


In order to better understand how the app caters to users, I created a provisional persona. Making the distinction clear since personas can undergo much development over time based on research and validation.

Margaret, our persona

Margaret, our persona

Margaret is a mother of two from the Midwest with common behaviors and concerns.  She uses her iPhone daily, has a bit of experience with online services, and would love to be more technologically knowledgeable.

Guerrilla Usability Testing

For usability testing I asked users to perform five tasks:

1) Discover

Find an app that let's you watch baseball live on your phone

2) Search

Download the Open Table app.

3) Review

Leave a review for the Facebook app.

4) Share

Share the Gmail app.

5) Redeem

Redeem an App Store gift card.

The results confirmed my initial assumption; users have difficult not only finding apps in the App Store, but accomplishing all of the above tasks other than downloading a named app.

Usability testing synthesis

Priority matrix

It's easy to see patterns beginning to form.  Based on the priority matrix we can pick out the top four issues that need to be addressed.

Design Stories

Looking at our top four priorities we can start to assemble our design stories for Margaret.

Task Flows

It's become clear that users want to use the search bar in the App Store to search for apps as well as information. This means we'll need to task flows, one for each goal.

App search task flow

App search task flow

Information search task flow

Information search task flow

The complexity of task flows associated with what seems like a simple task, search, was a surprise to me. What was also surprising was how little modification they needed to hopefully improve discoverability and usability.


Again I was surprised the majority of updates would be implemented through UI changes.


I'm really happy with how the changes manifested themselves in the prototype.  The minor changes to task flows lead to a simple prototype but the UI updates are quickly evident.

Travis Gohr1 Comment