What are some easy, seamless ways to prompt an iOS/mobile user to input data throughout the day (e.g. for a food diary), from both the notification and the data entry perspective?

So far the best solution I've seen is to make the swipe-left feature of notifications in the iOS lock screen (where, for example, iMessage gives you the option to reply/view in app) an short yes/no question. This probably isn't the best solution, though, especially for more complex data input.

What other considerations are typically important for making this a seamless experience? How do you avoid annoying a user with too-frequent notifications if data collection is crucial for functionality later on?

All answers are appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • You know LinkedIn? Try and avoid that ;)
    – Peter
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 19:54

4 Answers 4


Filling forms is not fun and especially boring when you don't know why you are doing it.. No one likes to talk to databases.

Why don't you try something more conversational and human to make the task feel less mechanical. I would try using Whatsapp and let them feel like they are chatting with a Human and not a machine.. (Creating an app that feels like a chatting app and has its own emojis to help users answer with a single click could also be fun)

If you happen to try it let me know whether it made any difference to the response rates.


2 things come to mind when I read your scenario:

Your users need to know: Why do I need to enter date frequently? (Implication)
Your users need to know: How do I know I need to enter data? (means)

Implication: If you design your app in a way where your user will know what the benefit to entering data is, they are probably more likely to do it.

As for means; there are currently a number of options available on iOS:

  • Badges
  • Push Notifications via Notification Center

Other options are a bit more conventional:

  • Notify them through text messages
  • Notify them through email

Any of these options will prompt your user and remind them to open your app.
Note: Apple currently doesn't have any way to directly do complex data entry outside your app (either in the background or notification screen)


If the entry is simply yes or no , would it be better to show something like this (e.g. food diary):

Did you have breakfast? Slide to enter data or ignore if you didn't.

You can say it in a more descriptive words but I hope the idea is clear. If you have two choices and one of them will make no changes, then don't ask the user to do extra work


When an effort does not fetch anything of value to the user, it is better to avoid it. But, if it is essential for business, then design something of value (like virtual goods, points or rewards) to keep the user engaged. One of the best ways to do it, is to gamify the task.

Points, Badges, Leaderboards, and statuses, when designed well, can keep the user hooked to the task. LinkedIn uses gamification to get users to enter more information about them.

LinkedIn - Enterprise Gamification

Apart from game elements, creating a compelling social network makes the app sticky and retains users. Fitocracy does this. Most healthcare apps require the users to enter data about their workout and gamification is used to make the task fun

Rise of Healthcare gamification

Fitocracy users come for the gamification but stay for the community

But, this is not as easy as it seems. Clear understanding of the dynamics and mechanics of a gamified app can get you great results. If not well researched, it just frustrates the user.

This course might give you a basic understanding of gamification principles and practical scenarios

Coursera - Gamification

In your case, you can explore this option if you think you will have a good ROI. If you can't invest time and effort to gamify this task, then it is better to consider answers from other stack exchangers. Whatever it is, research and decide.

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