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I have to develop an app and one of the requirements is to capture data before the app's content is made available to the user.

I have read Should I force the user to enter an email before actually using a paid app?. I've read it's not a good practice, potentially illegal and likely to be banned by the appStore if an opt-in is not in place. The post, however, concentrates on a paid app.

Does it make a difference if the app is free to download?

The client's idea is that the content of the app adds a great value to the user. So the value, in this case, is traded for data (e-mail address and more).

Is it common practice to have the form inside the app itself and make content available after it's submitted?

  • Here is a good answer to a similar situation. I find the answer is a good fit here too, even the subject is a little different ux.stackexchange.com/questions/20230/… – Madalina Taina Oct 18 '16 at 12:33
  • Think of a request for information from the user as a barrier. You will lose some users who choose not to push through it. How important is it for you to keep your users? (What you're describing is the client's requirement, maybe their marketing team's requirement - not a user requirement.) – Ken Mohnkern Oct 18 '16 at 13:40
  • The problem with "The client's idea is that the content of the app adds a great value to the user" is whether the (potential) user thinks it will provide them value. If a user "knows" they need this app, they will enter the data. However, if it's just an app that "looks like it might be interesting" I'd want to see it in action first (to see if I like the interface, is it slow and kludgy etc.) before committing to it. If I couldn't even get a quick play without divulging such info, I'd pass on to another app immediately. – TripeHound Nov 17 '16 at 15:33
  • A certain percentage of that user data will of course be made up... – PhillipW Dec 17 '16 at 18:06
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It is not common, but a lot of companies use that for data mining. You are exchanging your details for a useful free application. Now they can associate your email with certain keywords and use it for targeted marketing.

  • This is the unfortunate correct answer. – ecc Dec 17 '16 at 14:41
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I'm not aware of this as "common" practice but I have seen it before.

The trick is getting the right balance between the perceived value of the app and the perceived value of the users' time taken to fill in the form. The users will resent the time taken between them starting and using the app more than the amount of information they have to give up.

You might want to try guerilla testing this issue. You could try something like this: make a list of all the information you're likely to want from the user as well as a few extra bit's and pieces then go out, find someone, tell them about your app and then ask them to mark all the pieces of information they'd be prepared to give you for it. You could probably even do it around the office and still get a reasonably good idea (as long as you're asking people who don't have a direct interest one way or the other).

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    I'd be skeptical of asking people what they think they'd be willing to do, which is not likely to correspond to what they'll actually do. I'd suggest doing some A/B testing but I'm not sure how that fits within the rules of the App Store. – Ken Mohnkern Oct 18 '16 at 13:46
  • (I'd forgotten about this question!) @KenMohnkern Yes, you're probably right about the testing and about the appstore - Although they must have some mechanism for running tests like that surely? – Andrew Martin Oct 18 '16 at 14:08

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