How to Leave a Good App Review

As an Android developer, I frequently check up on the latest reviews that people have left on my application. I do this because I want to make sure my app runs without issues for people. The reviews also might present an idea for a new feature I could implement to make users’ work on the app a bit more productive. Reviews are a critical component in the development process of an application, being a primary source of user feedback.

That being said, I am only on my side of the fence: the developer’s side. It is still up to my users to leave good reviews. One of the things that I absolutely despise is when people leave vague comments and expect me to know what the problem is. These sorts of reviews are an absolute waste of time, both on my part and the reviewer. Here’s an example of such madness:

How to Leave a Good App Review

What sort of work? Specifically, what do you do on GitHub that you wish you could do on my app? Sorry, but I cannot help you if you cannot help yourself.

Because my app is a GitHub client, I fortunately don’t get many of these useless reviews — due in part that GitHub is primarily a site for developers who understand the perspective from my side of the fence. In fact, many reviews are helpful and appreciated. Here’s a review that is useful for both me and the reviewer:

How to Leave a Good App Review

Now that review tells me specifically what areas of my app I should work on. It’s these sorts of reviews that I enjoy seeing.

With that, let us take a look at what makes a review helpful to the developer.
How to Leave a Good App Review

  • Explain your situation. If you’re not rating the app with five stars, then there’s obviously something on your mind that troubles you. If, for example, you rate an app with one star and leave no explanation as to what your problem is, it drastically reduces the odds of it being resolved. Make sure that you explain your issue with as much detail as possible so the developer knows exactly what needs fixing or improving. Help them help you.
  • Go the extra mile. If you can, search out alternative ways to get the developers attention. Most app detail pages on the Android Market also include developer contact information like a website or email. Being that my app is a GitHub client, savvy reviewers should know that a repository exists on GitHub. Therefore, they can easily leave an issue on the site in addition to a review. If you truly care about the problem getting fixed, make sure it is voiced appropriately.
  • Show appreciation. Applications can be difficult to develop. If a developer has just finished slaving away over a hot code editor all day only to see a bunch of demanding, nasty comments pop up, he’ll probably get discouraged or, worse, remove the app from distribution, completely eliminating its usefulness. Show that you appreciate the developer’s time and thought process put into the application you’re reviewing; it really helps motivate the developer to continue forward.
  • Review your review. Before you post your review, look it over. If it goes along the lines of “doesn’t work blah blah blah,” then you probably shouldn’t be posting it in the first place. I get frustrated when I see reviews like these, as my app is getting a poor rating and I can’t do a thing to correct it. The rating and review systems provided by Google for the Android Market and by Apple on the App Store are there to improve the app. Use them responsibly and with purpose.
  • Follow up at a later date. Another thing I cannot stand is reviewers who leave a review but then never check back and revise it. If you are reporting a bug, keep the app installed so you know when it gets an update. When that update does come, check to see if the bug persists. Whether it does or not, keep your review up to date. The same goes for feature requests, naturally. Again, I’ve not had much trouble recently with my app in this regard, but I’ve still seen it happen many times.

There you have it: tips pleas straight from a developer’s brain to yours. I hope that you will take these and run with them, improving your own reviews so that the apps you review can, in turn, improve and evolve into tools that are even more useful for you.

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  • http://twitter.com/arbecchristian Christian Arbec

    Thank you this will help me in my next video

  • http://geekytechguy.wordpress.com/ Eric

    Wonderful post, good detail. Keep it up Chris.

  • http://geekytechguy.wordpress.com/ Eric

    Wonderful post, good detail. Keep it up Chris.

  • http://twitter.com/gadgetgreg Greg Gazin

    A great how-to that anyone should read before they post a review. It gives a step-by-step explanation of what to do.  

    My pet peeve is someone that leaves a bad review on something that is out of control for example of the seller or manufacturer – like when the courier messes up or shipment was delayed so people leave a bad review which really doesn’t directly relate to the product itself. In fact it skews results

    • Zagorath

      Yeah Greg, I totally agree. I hate seeing these sorts of ‘reviews’.

    • Zagorath

      Yeah Greg, I totally agree. I hate seeing these sorts of ‘reviews’.

  • http://twitter.com/gadgetgreg Greg Gazin

    A great how-to that anyone should read before they post a review. It gives a step-by-step explanation of what to do.  

    My pet peeve is someone that leaves a bad review on something that is out of control for example of the seller or manufacturer – like when the courier messes up or shipment was delayed so people leave a bad review which really doesn’t directly relate to the product itself. In fact it skews results

  • Opinion

    Useless for work.

    :D

  • Opinion

    Useless for work.

    :D

  • Zagorath

    Great post.
    What annoys me as a user, though, is that these review systems rarely have an easy, sime way for me to find out if my review has been read. You say t should be up to the user to check back. I say it should be up to shower manages the review platform (Apple, Google, GitHub, or whoever) to give the user the option to be emailed when they get responded to.

  • Zagorath

    Great post.
    What annoys me as a user, though, is that these review systems rarely have an easy, sime way for me to find out if my review has been read. You say t should be up to the user to check back. I say it should be up to shower manages the review platform (Apple, Google, GitHub, or whoever) to give the user the option to be emailed when they get responded to.

  • Zack M.

    I am thrilled to see someone take the familiar frustration of vague/cynical app reviews and then sketch out a system that makes them so much more helpful. I’ll be sharing this widely! Thanks! 

  • Zack M.

    I am thrilled to see someone take the familiar frustration of vague/cynical app reviews and then sketch out a system that makes them so much more helpful. I’ll be sharing this widely! Thanks! 

  • http://twitter.com/XpertTimer Daniela Schaelchli

    We are also an app developer and experience the exact same thing. Thanks for the post.

  • http://twitter.com/goingfishing11 Chris Wieninger

    This article should be a must-read for anyone who even thinks about leaving an app review on the Android Marketplace. The sheer number of useless information like that mentioned at the beginning of this blog is amazing. If you aren’t going to take the time to actually review the usefulness of the app, then don’t review it. The review is for other users and developers alike; I’d like to know as much as possible about an app before I download it, and developers would like to know what we don’t like.

  • http://robiganguly.com/blog Robi Ganguly

    This is some really good advice for making the most of your time when reviewing an app. But there’s another side to this: what the consumers care about. As we can see in the comments here, consumers want to be heard and know that the developers are listening. 

    The app store reviews and ratings aren’t necessarily there to “improve the app”. Much the same way as ratings in Amazon’s store, the marketplaces view ratings and reviews as a way to share more information with potential purchasers and to give some signal around sentiment. In many ways, the reviews are for other users, not the developers. That’s why we encourage app developers to think more deeply about how they encourage ratings in their apps. It’s also why we’ve actually developed tools to ensure that the developer can hear directly from the users of their apps. We’ve talked more about these concepts on our blog: http://blog.apptentive.com/customer-communication/better-ratings-for-your-applications/ for those who are interested.

    In any case, this was a great set of advice and we hope that both users and developers can think harder about how to make the communication activity less antagonistic and more constructive, leading to great relationships and great apps!
     

  • david chak

    david chak

    The Internet is the free superhighway in cyber space. Open and free, this is the spirit of WWW. Open learning and free to use. Let loose the rule, it will find its way to regulate to the right course. A little intervention may help to adjust the right direction. This post is the example of a little intervention. I sent in my support.