Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Decoding feedback - 4/5 stars

I recently saw this software review being shared on Twitter.
THIS APP HAS EVERYTHING I COULD WANT but it does more than I need. 4/5 stars
The implication was that if it does everything that they want the reviewer should have given it 5 stars.
4 filled stars, one empty
This sat in my mind for a while and the response I was building became too long for Twitter so I'm posting it here.

Part of the job of a developer and any business owner is to understand what customers (or users) want. Often you have to try and work this out for yourself. If you're fortunate they'll tell you what they think or what they think they want. The trick of being a good business owner, or product manager, or customer relations person, or developer working from a spec is being able to take what is said and working out what is meant.

Reviews are great feedback. Let's see what the person who left the above review might be telling us. With no more context, we have to guess at some of it but let's what they might be saying as an exercise in trying to understand the user and identify ways of improving a product.

  • This app does all they want. It's important to recognize that we're in a positive place and we want to make it even better. Don't start by being defensive and critical of what is mostly positive feedback. This is a learning opportunity.
  • But they don't think it's perfect. The opportunity for improvement.
  • Doing more than they need may be a problem. The challenge here is finding out why this is the case.
  • Maybe there are so many features, options, and pieces of functionality it's hard to get to the ones they want.
  • Maybe the features they want are at the bottom of or hidden in, a long list that the person has to search through each time.
  • Maybe the terms the app uses aren't the ones the person uses and so they are forced to remember (or figure out--through trial and error) the translations each time they use the app.
  • Maybe it's hard to do the things that they want, even though they are possible.
  • Maybe they have to navigate through multiple pages/sections/menus to get to the functionality they want.
  • Maybe the app has ways around the issue they're encountering but they don't know how and so it's just an education issue.

So, what could be done about this?

  • If possible, seek clarification.
  • Consolidate this feedback with what others are saying.
  • Address the concerns once it's known what they are.
    My guess is that the ability to mark options as favorites or maintain a recently used list will help but it's worth exploring the possible other issues highlighted above to see if they're issues too.



  1. Glad to see I'm not the only one pondering app store feedback! https://damian.fyi/2019/04/27/not-even-worth-one-star-reacting-constructively-to-app-store-reviews/


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