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:
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:
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.
- 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.