Working on Your App Etiquette

We’ve all been there. You download a new app, play around with it for a while and then never use it again or delete it in a fit of ‘poor interface’ induced rage. As a user, it’s frustrating when apps don’t appear to be thinking about their end users but for developers it can be the difference between a killer app and a flop and nobody wants that. *trumpet fanfare* Fear not, developers! We’ve put together a handy list of things that, um, you really should and shouldn’t do (or at least, we’d prefer it that way. Thanks!).

app etiquette

1. Don’t ask users to rate your app before they’ve even used it

If they’ve never used your app why would they rate it? This is a sure fire way to annoy your users, so please, please – stop doing it. Give them time to play with your app before you ask them to rate you. Also: No means no. If you ask someone to rate your app and they say ‘no thanks’ don’t ask them again a week later (and then another week after that). Better no rating than a retaliation 1 star rating, right? (thanks to @dzamir for suggesting this one) 

Solution: Do some testing to find out how long it takes the average user to become familiar with your app and change your ratings timescale to suit that. People who’ve got to grips with your app are much more likely to leave you a positive review!

2. Do use a UX friendly keyboard

If you know your users are going to be typing an email adress, give them an @ on screen. If they’re typing a url then a .com button will be super handy. Every developer has access to the different keyboard layouts available – the difference with the good apps is that they use them. (thanks to @boxuk for suggesting this one)

Solution: Take a moment to work out what your users will need access to and use the keyboard most appropriate for that action.

3. Do make sure your support links are actually useful

Linking to a Twitter account or a Facebook page is all well and good but if you’re users don’t use those services then you’re making it much more difficult for them to get in touch if they’ve got a problem (which will probably lead to negative ratings if the problem persists and who wants that?).

Solution: Link to an FAQ on your website, with clear and available contact links.

4. If you’re going to use in app purchases, don’t make it the only thing worth doing in your “free” app

In app purchases are a contentious issue but if you’re going to go down that route at least make them an add on and not the only option. We’ve downloaded ‘free’ apps only to find that every bit of content is an IAP. That’s not a free app, that’s a trick and not a very good one. Be honest and upfront about what you want your app to be.

Solution: Use IAP to create an option for loyal fans, by allowing them to buy premium, worthwhile content unavailable anywhere else.

5. Don’t hide the close button on ads

Seriously. Don’t do this. Ever. (thanks to @billsebald for suggesting this one)

Solution: If you can’t work out the solution for this one then please don’t ever ask us to use one of your apps.

6. Don’t spam users with push notifications

Useful push notifications are fine but always make sure you give your users the option to turn them off if they want to. There’s nothing worse than an app that spams you for no reason.

Solution: Make it easy and simple for users to tailor your notifications to their needs.

7. Don’t force people to login via Facebook

*ahem* Spotify *cough*. Not every user uses a social networking site so why try and shoehorn them in just so they can use your app?

Solution: Give people the option to login via email, we promise they’ll thank you.

8. Don’t be clingy

When people click on your notifications, it’s polite to clear them down from the notification centre – the majority of them serve no purpose once they’ve actually been actioned. (We’re looking at you, Instagram.) Leaving your notifications hanging around like a bad smell could encourage people to turn them off altogether, which leads to less interaction with your app. So be nice, clear up after yourself and don’t outstay your welcome.

Solution: Clear down your notifications. Please. Please.

9. Do write clear, friendly error messages

A generic error brings frustration and irrtation, so try and be specific without being overly technical. Tell users why it’s not working rather than just that it isn’t. “Oops! Something went wrong with your upload, let’s try again” is much more calming to see than “ERROR: An unknown problem has occurred”, right?

Solution: Think about the emotions your users will feel if something goes wrong, and write your error code to try and placate them!

Phew! You are, of course, free to agree or disagree with any of these – if you’re a developer who does these things we’d love to hear why in the comments! We promise we’ll still like you 😉