Navigate the Maze of the End-User Experience and pick up this APM Essential guide, brought to you in partnership with CA Technologies.
The way Google's Android Market (or any other app store) arranges apps
in the top listing is not well known outside the staff. It is a good
thing too. Knowing the exact algorithms would allow dishonest
manipulation of the system. Regardless, we all want our own apps to be
up high in the listing for them to reach as many users as possible. We
cannot affect the algorithm and we should not try to game the system.
The best thing we can do is to try to get our user to rate our apps.
Positive ratings is definitely a factor when the system orders the apps
in the listing.
Don't Be an As#@(&$
There have been few disgracious attempts by dishonest and usually
malicious software vendors to force users to rate their apps by claiming
that the app remains locked until the user rates it for 5 stars
(technically this isn't even possible). Fortunately, these apps have
been swiftly removedly from the market by Google.
But what can we do to encourage users to rate our apps without going to
extremes and dishonest behavior like the one mentioned above?
Users Almost Never Rate Apps
Getting apps rated is important and users don't do it that often.
There's a good reason why only very few users ever rate an app. Rating
is done in the Market Place app (or on the website). Both of these are
used for installing apps and aren't very useful after that. People very
rarely go back to the Market Place just to rate an app.
Facebook app, for example, has between 100.000.000 and 500.000.000
downloads but only little bit more than 2.600.000 ratings. Less than 2%
of all Facebook app users have rated the app.
The situation is even worse than it sounds. When are we most likely to
give feedback about things? It is when they fail. Let's face it. We like
to complain when things go wrong. While I don't think there's anything
wrong about raising concerns when things aren't working it can distort
the public perception of app quality if a small minority of people who
encounter problems leave feedback.
So, What Can We Do?
The importance of ratings and lack of user participation has caused some
app developers to look for solutions. One that we've all probably run
into is the infamous "Rate our app!" pop-up dialog. My opinion about
pop-up, including this one, can be read from my earlier post about them
In short, I strongly oppose use of pop-ups. Default position should
always be not to use them and only if no other alternative exist with
reasonable amount of work use of pop-ups should be considered.
Pop-ups are annoying by default. Making users annoyed while asking them
to rate your app doesn't sound smart. They don't even seem to be that
effective. Let's look at another example. Evernote used a pop-up asking
for rating of the app (I haven't seen it for a while so I hope that
they've removed it). So let's see how Evernote does with rating
percentage. They have 10.000.000 to 50.000.000 installs and just over
240.000 ratings. Interestingly it works out to pretty much exactly same
This very unscientific comparison of two apps in the market and their
percentages doesn't, of course, prove anything. I do maintain my
original point about avoiding pop-ups however. Pop-ups being bad doesn't
mean that that there isn't anything that could be done to guide users
towards reviewing your app.
Gentle Push Without Interruption
If you want to ask your users to review your app make it as discretely
as possible. Do not block or interrupt your users' workflow with a
Here are two alternatives you could consider. They are by far not the
only options but examples of solutions that solve the same problem but
don't involve pop-ups.
- Are you using dashboard UI pattern? If so you could consider using
the dashboard's information area to display a message about rating.
- Does your app show ads? If so you cold consider replacing the add with a rating request sometimes.
In addition to not blocking the users there are few things that you should keep in mind when asking of users to rate your app.
- Always provide an easy way for users to say "no, I won't and never
ask me again" (which also applies in situations where user has already
rated the app)
- If user rates your app or expresses that he or she doesn't want to
rate it make your app remember it. Never ask them again. If your app has
user account try store that information to the user account so whenever
they reinstall or install the app on another device they won't be asked
Getting your app rated is important. It isn't an excuse for bad user
experience though. Before resorting to pop-ups think about other
solutions. While they aren't always obvious they very rarely don't
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