App Icon Experiment

Mon, Dec. 8 2014

Mystery Math Museum is the sequel to our best selling Mystery Math Town app.

When we made Math Town, we had the idea for Museum in the back of our collective conscience, and we agreed that we’d fast track development if Math Town was successful.

Well, Math Town took off and we dove headfirst into developing Museum.

And we worked really hard to ensure the user experience would be worth plunking down an extra $2.99.

Sure, Museum uses the same game mechanic (use your math skills to unlock doors on your way to solving a mystery) and the educational value is basically the same (Math Town offers skills customization to work on any combination of addition, subtraction or multiplication - Museum also offers division) but Museum also introduces themed museums (Sports, Wild West, Vehicles, Aerospace, Music, Ancient, Art, Dinosaurs) and hundreds of unique interactives to discover on your journey, along with an all new cast of characters - each with their own story to tell.

We launched Museum to critical and public acclaim, but after a few weeks that new app smell began to fade and Museum settled into a comfortable position, curled up in the shadow of Math Town with about a third of the sales.

So why hasn’t Museum been a better seller?

As an iOS app developer, it can seem at times as if we’re working in the dark.

We spend months in development, making, testing, and adjusting to deliver a high quality user experience.

Once the app is released, we are afforded very little insight as to how customers find our apps and what actions they take when they do find our products.

We collect anonymous aggregate analytics to see what people do when playing our apps but that doesn’t help us to deliver a better marketing message.

Bigger companies continually tweak their sales presentation with the help of sophisticated A/B testing to isolate variables and determine what leads customers to buy.

When we launched Museum, we intentionally made the app icon similar to Math Town.

There was however, considerable debate over whether to use a female character over a male character, like Math Town.

We did some limited testing and got cool responses to our females, so we settled on the slightly crazed artist because he was perceived as being more fun.

Might that have been a mistake?

With Museum sales generally lagging, we’ve decided to find out.

That’s right, our Mystery Math Museum icon is getting a complete makeover for the holidays.

Check her out:

Now, if this was a strict A/B test we wouldn’t have changed the character and the icon color at the same time because there would be no way to determine what impact each change had. But we’re indies, so we don’t have to play by the rules.

The update will go live next week.

We’ll report back after the holidays to let you know how our experiment goes.