In the design for an app with a basic user/post/subscribe system how many notifications should be kept before deleting old ones? Or should they all be kept?

(Note I'm referring to an in-app notification tray, not push notifications)

The back-end as a service I'm using charges for the total data stored, so I would be worried about users going inactive and accumulating tons of unread notifications which in turn could cost me, especially if they followed a lot of active users.

If you were a user that checked an app like once or twice a year, would you be put off if you only saw the last 9 notifications or some amount?

I guess another option would be to stop pushing notifications to people who hadn't logged in for like, a week or two? Not sure if this would be an effective alternate. Probably wouldn't be great for user retention, but I don't know enough about that to say.

2 Answers 2


There is no universal notification amount to store, the exact value should be determined for your application exclusively.

Keeping latest notifications for a short, though reasonable for your service, period of time should serve the purpose good enough.

Otherwise it won't function as a notification, but as some kind of log where different recommendations may apply depending on whether the data stays relevant when time passes.

  • That's a cool way of looking at it. I mean I could also possibly rig it to keep the latest post by the top X most active users they're subscribed to as a notification. But you're right it wouldn't really be notifications any more.
    – saricden
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 7:44
  • +1 But I can't cause I have less than 15 rep.
    – saricden
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 7:51

Imagine there is no cost for storing the notifications. Is the experience for a user that comes back after being inactive a good one if they get every single notification? What is the job they are solving by looking at this list?

You mention user retention, so a good start would be to understand notifications on the extremes. Is a user with a number of notifications above average more engaged? Are there users with similar engagement but no notifications at all? Could you instead have the user select which events they'd rather get notifications about? Once you know this, the cost can be used to prioritize possible solutions.

  • 1
    Yeah it would be possible to add a flag to my data that determines if the follower wants to receive notifications for various post types from the user they followed. I like this idea. It could default to all true/selected and then if the user wanted to mute a certain type of post, they could do so. Hopefully I'm understanding correctly! Thanks for your answer!
    – saricden
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 17:30

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