Continuing from part 1 of this series, the next topic is using trials of a paid app vs. free demos of those apps. There are distinct differences between the two.

A trial version of a paid app is either feature-limited or time-limited as noted in the previous post. What’s distinctive here is that the trial gives the user the same experience as the full app, such that if they upgrade they can then continue on and deepen that experience.

A free demo, on the other hand, is a standalone app, which would, of course, invite the user to visit the full app’s page in the Store. It must be noted that such a free demo app must deliver good value to the user in and of itself–it can’t just be an advertisement. This is why you see “lite” versions of apps, because “lite” makes it clear that you can do plenty with the app, just not everything.

Lite/demo apps can typically be used for any length of time, but while being useful, think of them as a way to showcase features of the full app–like a teaser trailer–rather than providing a complete experience.

Here’s an example I gave in Chapter 17 of my book: Let’s say you have a game with five distinct “worlds” through which a player would normally progress in the app’s full version [if you know the game Switchball, I wrote this example based on it]. A trial version would allow a player to start working through those worlds but would cease to operate completely after some short period of time, say 30 or 60 minutes. In that time, a player might not progress past the first few levels in the first world, so the experience of the overall game is incomplete. A free demo/lite version, on the other hand, could be played as much as one wished but would contain only one level from, say, three of the five worlds. This gives the user a broader taste of the app and, because it can be played many times, serves as a continual advertisement for the full experience without giving anything more away.

When offering a lite/demo app, you can forego offering a trial of the paid version, or make the trial relatively short. In the end, you’re always trying to use trials and demos to lead to purchase of the full app, so design a demo app with that in mind.

Other ideas? Please add comments!

Comments are closed