A Better Way To Request App Ratings

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Joshua Mauldin is a design leader and visual artist who got his start creating websites for bands. Since then, he’s designed 5-star mobile apps and built … More about Joshua ↬

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Quick summary ↬ No one really wants to be interrupted, much less for something silly while they’re in the middle of doing a billion things. So, why do app ratings follow this pattern? And why don’t developers attempt to talk more with their customers?

No one really wants to be interrupted, much less for something silly while they’re in the middle of doing a billion things. So, why do app ratings follow this pattern? And why don’t developers attempt to talk more with their customers?

In this article, we’ll investigate the various tactics of prompting for app reviews and ratings and how to make them better. We’ll also talk about how to ask users for feedback in a way that benefits everyone.

Getting feedback on your app is important. How else can people tell you that your app is doing well or poorly? I’ve seen some great ways to prompt for reviews, and a few apps get it right, but there’s still room for improvement.

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  • . Here’s how the idea originally worked:

    • Three days after opening the app, the user would see a dialog box asking whether their experience is good or bad.
      • If the feedback is positive, the user is asked to leave a review.
      • If the feedback is negative, the user is asked to get in touch.
    • Users can dismiss the dialog box if they are too busy.

    We thought that waiting for three days was a good compromise, giving users a decent amount of time to try out the app and gather their thoughts. The decision to wait a certain number of days, rather than a certain number of launches, was dictated by our users’ habits. Some of them launch the app a few times a day for a few moments and so would have a difficult time getting a feel for the app after just a few launches.

    When a user would write to us, our support team would reply to them to help with their problem. Some complained about our update to the design, but most had lost their password or had a legitimate problem that we wouldn’t have been able to identify on our own. Ultimately, these emails were directly responsible for our considerable improvements to the app, helping us to squash bugs and remove obstacles between users and their content. The app went from 1.5 to 4.5 stars.

    ideal ratings-500

    In short, the ideal solution is to open a dialog box at the right time with a simple question and answer. Where and how you implement it will depend on the app.

    We’re planning to improve ours even more by asking users only after they have shared an article, thus minimizing interruptions further.

    Feedback Modules: A Dark Pattern?

    Some would call this approach to app ratings a dark pattern because it directs positive feedback one way and negative feedback another. But it has more to do with how it’s implemented. It’s a tool, inherently neither good nor bad.

    Sure, it could be used for evil and to silence all dissent. Just don a black helmet and cape, build a Death Star and force choke all bad reviews to death by forwarding them to a never-monitored inbox.

    Or you could use the approach for good to gather meaningful feedback from real users, in turn helping them to solve their problems and improving your product.

    Not to mention, no matter how many barriers you put up, if your app is doing something evil, users will find a way to share their unhappiness with the world.

    Closing Thoughts

    Hopefully, this has shed some light on how to balance your need for feedback with your need for a high rating. It’s not just about how many stars you get, but about how well you communicate with users. Whatever your method, make sure it respects the user’s time and energy. I’ve had great results with this pattern and will continue iterating on it.

    I’d love to hear how you make this work for your users and to answer any questions in the comments section.

    Further Reading

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