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I'm creating a mobile app that would alert users on its initial startup to rate it and link to the App Store for a written review.

From doing some research so far I've found two approaches that currently exist.

  1. The first gives the user two choices Rate Now | No Thanks. If the user clicks No Thanks the option would still be available ideally in a settings menu.

  2. The second gives the user three choices Rate Now | Remind Me Later | Never Ask Me Again. Is reminding someone later more of an annoyance than being helpful in this instance? How often should the prompt reopen if the user selects to remind them later (this could also apply to Approach A)? Also the option would still be available ideally in a settings menu.

My goal is obviously to get as many reviews as I can from willing participants but more importantly create a frictionless process with little to no frustration for the user.

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I'd advise against asking "on initial startup." General consensus seems to be that users hate being asked to rate apps with a pop-up (regardless of the content), and developers risk negative ratings for asking too early, too often, or too intrusively.

This is especially true:

  • Right after start up, when the user wants to accomplish something
  • When it randomly interrupts their action based on an arbitrary timer (5 uses, 10 days, etc)
  • When you ask within a very short time of first installing the app, before they've even had a chance to use it & form an opinion.

Best practices & options are still a matter of debate, but in general have started to steer away from this approach.

Some good suggestions to avoid berating users include placing your rating/feedback area in an "about" view with your contact info. This has the added benefit of providing a users with a clear alternative way to report bugs/crashes - hopefully they send you a private email instead of leaving a 1-star rating. If you just say "Rate Now?" you get what you ask for...

You could also opt for a less invasive way to ask than an alert (like a banner-ad style subview). This Tumblr has some good & bad examples of things you could consider.

Sending emails to (willing) subscribers, or including a reminder in the App Store copy to leave reviews after each update could also help.

"But Flappy Bird got ranked #1 with its big ugly alert! Why can't I?"

True ... placing the "Rate Now" pop-up directly at the time/location of the "Play Again?" button is one reason cited for Flappy Bird climbing the charts from obscurity to fame and fortune.

The key difference though is that the pop-up appeared strategically, after the user had played a few times, and right after they'd died, a clear stopping point/milestone. It wasn't the same interruption as a random alert getting in the way of the task.

The placement over the "Play Again" button sort of tricked people into leaving a review. This surely angered/confused some people & its success isn't likely to be repeated, but the sheer volume of ratings had the desired effect, and eventually it took off.

If you do go with the pop-up alertview, then the 3-button option with "Never Ask Again" is safest. If people like the app & want to leave a review, they will.

  • Thanks for the thorough response! Didn't have it in the original post but thought it would be worth asking. Does having an alert before exiting help this case at all? Reason I ask is because I deal more with an open ended utility that would be hard to calculate once the user's done using it. – Carl Edwards Sep 17 '14 at 14:07
  • In that case maybe a link in an "About/Settings" view would be a good option. Not as invasive so not as many reviews, but... Also there's a very narrow window (at least on iOS) between the app preparing to close (or enter background) and when it's no longer available - it's often barely enough time to save user data. I imagine Android & Windows Phone are similar. You could try putting an alert there & seeing if it works as expected. That would probably be preferable for users vs having it upon opening, but that's just a guess that could be tested. – mc01 Sep 17 '14 at 20:26
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Would agree with mc01. User's hate been asked to rate the app. But given this problem, I would follow as below.

  1. Keep the Rating link somewhere in the menu or feedback page. Also if possible, reward the user for rating your app. I believe it is a big deal that user took an extra effort to submit feedback/rating for your app. So maybe giving them few game points, or discount etc would greatly help.
  2. Also if it is necessary to prompt the user to rate your app, then instead of showing them the simple obtrusive modal, directly show them the special page with 2 options Feedback/Rating & Continue. Having separate page can again be helpful if you are willing to reward the user for their feedback. Also in my experience, I have found that the Modal is more annoying than a entirely new page.
  3. Also as Pxlc suggested, it is important that you time it really well. You cannot keep showing the Rating modal everytime the user logs in or logs out of your app. Maybe asking the user for rating after specific number of uses or days can be helpful here.
  • +1 for rewarding user - interesting idea. Wonder how to implement that in certain types of app. Hmm... – mc01 Sep 17 '14 at 20:28

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