As the number of apps on an app marketplace grows, so does the need for effective ways to discover them. Aside from the marketplace homepage, the two main tools users will use for this are:
Search is a simple, but rich discovery tool for app marketplaces. It's most powerful when the user already knows roughly what they are looking for, whether that be a specific functionality, app or developer.
Make search bars a prominent feature in your marketplace, so that they're easy to access at all times. You can place a search bar in the header section of your marketplace, like in the Shopify App Store:
...and/or in the hero section of some pages, like the homepage or category pages:
The search should prioritize results where the query matches the app name, the developer, or any tags. It's also advisable to run the search against app descriptions, so as to prevent few or no results showing up for some queries.
Search results pages on an app marketplace are structured as they would be anywhere else. They consist of a list or grid of entries, each of which represents a relevant app:
A search results page on the Wix App Market.
At the bare minimum, each entry should show the app's name, with a link to the app details page. For an improved user experience, entries can also include a logo, a brief description, the category or categories, and/or the average rating.
Additionally, we recommend providing basic sorting functionality on search result pages, such as "Most Relevant", "Most Installed", and "Highest Rated". Finally, you can also offer filters on the page, such as category or pricing model.
Whereas search is most valuable for finding something specific, categorization enables a more organic — but still focused — approach to app discovery.
Chances are, categories are how most users will navigate through your marketplace, so make it easy to switch between them. Be sure to show a breakdown of categories in the sidebar and/or in a drop-down menu in the header section.
Categorization is only as helpful as the categories you choose. They can't be too specific, as users will be forced to bounce between them, or too broad, as users will have to scroll through large numbers of apps.
Ideally, categories should contain at least three or four apps, and at most a few dozen. If a category contains less than three apps, consider merging it with another. If a category contains more than a few dozen apps, consider dividing it into subcategories. Keep in mind that categories will evolve and expand over time as your marketplace grows.
Example: If a Finance category were to reach 20+ apps, it might be further divided into Banking and Lending subcategories.
As for the actual themes of categories, consider grouping apps by their industry, by the broad type of functionality they offer, or specific technologies they work with.
Each category should have a dedicated page that lists the apps in that category.
The easiest approach to structuring this page is to treat it like a search results page, listing all of the apps that fall into the category.
If you have the resources, you may also choose to curate category pages, listing trending, hand-picked, or featured apps before others.
Between the homepage, search, and categorization, we've looked at the main ways an end user can discover new apps. On the next page — App Pages — we'll talk about structuring app details pages, which are the natural next step in the customer's app marketplace journey.