I have just read this article and i am curious if users have this same behavior in mobile applications, i suspect so, but it is only based on intuition.

Does anyone know of some public studies or statistics about this, specifically for mobile applications?
Or if you know from private statistics and can't show it, i'll trust your answer.

I'm not comparing the ms word case in the article with mobile applications, i know they are very different and if i was comparing, then i would already had my answer.
The article answers the question of good defaults and how much settings power does the users really use in the pc desktop context, but i'm curious of this answer in the mobile context.

  • You can't really compare MS Word settings and those on the average mobile app. Most good apps have very few settings, while Word by comparison has far too many.
    – JohnGB
    Sep 17, 2011 at 20:36
  • I'm not comparing. I know the number of settings in mobile are only a few. But i would really like to know if even with only a few settings the users change them or just rely on good defaults.
    – herkulano
    Sep 17, 2011 at 20:40
  • 1
    I dont know of any stats but would be interested in seeing any. I would imagine it depends on both the app and the user. If it's a complex app they are more likely to look to change settings. If they are a power user they are probably more likely to want to change them.
    – Sheff
    Sep 17, 2011 at 22:04
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    Every time I download an app the first thing I do is see what settings it has that I can alter. On the other hand my parents have to be shown every single time how to even open the menu to find settings, even though it's standard in all applications. Depends on your audience, and what sort of app it is. If you suspect people are overlooking important options you may want to draw attention to them with a tutorial or tool tip..
    – Ben Brocka
    Sep 17, 2011 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


I don't have any specific stats to link to, except the article you've already mentioned (which I read yesterday and found really interesting).

I don't think it matters which platform the app is on or how many settings there are, you should assume that most users won't change things (as the article mentions, developer tools may be the exception).

Either way, you should make your app the most welcoming and useful with the default settings. Taking it a step further, you should remove settings where it's possible to include the feature in place, contextually.

Some cases where I've noticed users don't change default settings:

  • Photoshop default colour management for RGB means image colours get changed when saving for web. It's possible to fix this, but a huge amount of users still complain that Photoshop does it. I think it was a poor choice by Adobe to use the default settings they have for RGB colour management (if anyone's interested, I've written an article on how to set things up so colours don't shift).

  • iOS settings being in the settings app, rather than the app itself. This seems to add an even bigger barrier for exploration and change to settings, because users often don't know the settings exist. I asked ten developers about their experience with using the iOS Settings app for settings: http://bjango.com/articles/settingsapp/

I think a good set of general rules for settings is:

  • Where possible, remove settings and have the feature in place, where it's likely to be discovered and where it fits contextually.
  • If you need settings, like account set up, have them as part of the welcome process for your app or as part of coaching while the app is being used. Then also make it possible to edit and change the settings at a later date.
  • If you must have settings that aren't a natural fit for in-place or as part of a welcome set up, assume most users will never see them.

Setting good defaults is critical.

  • I was hoping that someone known some studies or stats on this.
    – herkulano
    Sep 21, 2011 at 23:30

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