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A Better Way To Solicit Ratings for Your Digital Magazine App

bigstock-minimalistic-illustration-of-h-64682665-565x300Asking users to rate apps has become too common that it’s hard to go a few days without being interrupted to leave a review. With such widespread practice, it’s no surprise that users rail against the use of “rate app” dialogs. It doesn’t have to be like this though. Encouraging users to rate your app should simply be a win-win situation for both ends.

There’s nothing wrong in asking for a review. If you stay honest and respect your users, you shouldn’t go too far wrong. You should focus on giving your users a great experience, not annoying them. Choose your timing carefully and you’ll find your users will be more than happy to leave you a great review.

Below, Joshua Mauldin shares a way to ask app ratings that can balance your need for feedback with your need for a high rating. It turns out that asking outside of app seems to be working. Try the tactic for your own digital magazine app and let us know if it’s actually as good as it sounds!

 Shifting From A Rating Module To A Feedback Module: A Win-Win For Everyone

You might have noticed that I use the word “feedback“ more than “rating” here. I do it because we need to fundamentally shift our perception of app ratings. Developers should engage with the user to learn about their experience, whether good or bad. If things are peachy, then asking them to leave a review seems reasonable. If not, find out why so that you can make things better for them.

How do you do that? Ask them to email you.

This tactic is especially useful with frustrated users. If you don’t attempt to talk to them, they’ll likely post a nasty review in the app store, which you can’t reply to. Not being able to reply to reviews publicly is a good thing, by the way — public disagreements can get awkward, and at least one party won’t come out of it looking good. Email gets past that and puts two humans in touch to talk through a problem.

Hearing from the user directly gives you a chance to understand their problem and often yields actionable feedback, which will be a helpful supplement to crash logs or when you want to find holes in the user experience.

How We Implemented This Idea

After thinking through how to solicit feedback, my company implemented its feedback module in a business news app named The Business Journals. 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.Users can dismiss the dialog box if they are too busy.
  • Users can dismiss the dialog box if they are too busy.
    • 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.

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.

Read full article on Smashng Magazine.

Digital magazines are completely different from print media, giving readers an enhanced online content experience. This shake-up has already reached publishers’ doors. And it’s high time for you to learn more about the new opportunities brought in by the proliferation of mobile and tablet devices. You don’t have to crawl your way alone, Realview can help!

Let’s sit down or, keep reading to learn more about engaging your target audience!