"tap to rate" vs "scroll to rate"

There are apps and webapps that implement the "tap to rate" approach (display a number of stars, icons or grades and let the user tap on the desired value) and there are some examples that use the "scroll to rate" (display a scrollable list with the stars, icons or grades and let the user scroll through the options) to collect user feedback.

For example iMDB uses the "scroll to rate" in its mobile iOS app.

iMDB iOS app movie rating

One pro that I see is that you can add a description to each rating, and it's all laid out for the user. In the case of the "tap to rate" there is usually no space to show that. Also scrolling is accepted on a touch device. It's natural behavior, and if the UI suggests it, the user doesn't have to think about it.

The "tap to rate" conserves space. However these ratings can be displayed in a pop-up, so it's not necessary to display the whole scroller on the screen.

Tap to rate - iOS reviewing an app Scroll to rate - Star rating Scroll to rate - Grade rating

What is your way of adding rating to your mobile app, webapp? Any other pros/cons, opinions?

  • I favour the scroll to rate - I hate that feeling in a touch screen where you have to be precise to get something right. The mobiscroll jQuery plugin works very well :)
    – TJH
    Aug 28, 2012 at 9:21
  • "[…] scrolling is accepted on a touch device. It's natural behavior, and if the UI suggests it, the user doesn't have to think about it." - probably true. Still, it's called touch device, not scroll device, right? :p
    – vzwick
    Aug 28, 2012 at 9:24

1 Answer 1


I would strongly lean towards the tap to rate approach for the following reasons:

  • Screen Real Estate: Tap-to-rate conserves valuable screen space
    • A scroll-to-rate solution might use a popup to avoid this problem, as you mentioned.
  • Context: The rating is kept in context with the item being rated.
    • A (scroll-to-rate) popup/modal breaks context. Imagine me being about to rate, getting interrupted by a hour-long call from my mum and returning to the app. If all I see is a modal with a scroll-to-rate element, I'd have no clue what exactly I'm rating.
  • Speed/ease of use: Actions needed to rate for the respective solution are:
    • tap to rate: tap (maybe tap again, if you weren't precise enough) = 1-2 actions
    • scroll to rate: tap, scroll, tap = at least 3 actions
  • Bias: No stars as a default will (or so my guess is) bias user feedback less than a pre-selection of "5 Stars" or "1 Star" (also see my next point).
  • The Freedom not to vote: No stars makes clear that I haven't rated this item yet. With a tap solution, I can consciously leave it that way by not tapping. With a scroller solution, some default rating gets set as soon I submit the form.
  • Thanks for your answer! Context: On a tablet the iPad renders the dropdowns in a bubble, which keeps things in context. (What i do like about the iMDB iPhone app, that it displays which movies i rated with the same number of stars) Bias: You don't necessarily have to default to any rating (I would use blank) Aug 28, 2012 at 10:58
  • @KovacsLevente – Depending on screen real estate, my context argument of course becomes invalid. With the multitude of different devices these days (and I bet there's many more of them to come, with even more diverse capabilities, screens, interaction modes …), I like to think "from smallest to largest", though. On a typical smartphone, context will break. Depending on what your expected user base is, this will affect a lot of users.
    – vzwick
    Aug 28, 2012 at 21:55

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