How To Improve App Store and Google Play Ratings

Making sure your app has as close to a 5 star rating is important for new and existing users. You want your existing users to feel good about the product, and when courting new users these ratings can make a huge first impression about your product, brand and experience.


Having quality and quantity in reviews also helps with your App Store rankings, and should be part of your App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy (more to come on ASO in future posts). While this doesn’t play as much of a role in the Play Store, it’s still critical.

Want to know the easy solution? Simply ask your users to rate your app. There are some great ways to do this which I’ve shared below and have been based off what I’ve been experimenting with at Betterment. However, the worst way to do it is interrupt their experience by popping up a modal–please avoid this at all costs.

Provide a call to action in your app:









Include a note in your release notes:









Ask users in email campaigns:

When emailing your users, include a note in the footer or end of your emails to 1) let users know you have a mobile app and 2) ask them to rate your app.

Keep on top of reviews:

If users are having any issues with your app they will often post a review. Make sure to stay on top of them and reach out to these users to help them troubleshoot any issues. You’ll find once you resolve their problem they will update their review with some strong remarks about customer service.

Next Chapter: I’ve joined Betterment!

Over the last two and a half years I have had the pleasure of running product at OpenFin, and today I am excited to officially announce that I have joined the product team at Betterment.

OpenFin has been an amazing experience and one that has had a profound impact on my life, both professionally and personally. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to join the team in the early days and have a major impact in shaping the company and product. Today, OpenFin has one of the best brands in the financial industry, an amazing product, a fantastic team, and even more exciting developments in the pipeline.

As I look forward to the next chapter in my career, I am thrilled about this new opportunity and the challenges that lie ahead. Betterment is an amazing company that is building something very special. They have a passionate user base, a great brand in the market and have a huge impact in people’s lives by making investing, a complicated and overwhelming process for most, simple and straightforward.

I am excited to get started and if you want to learn more about Betterment there is a great article and interview with our CEO, Jon Stein. 

Delighting your users with humanizing details

I came across a great article about UX design that emphasizes the importance of the details when thinking about user experience and design. Great user experience focuses on the details and what Dan Saffer calls Microinteractions, emphasizing the importance of the experience around a single task.

This post got me thinking about a few products that do this really well around small, specific features such as updating, posting, capturing and alerting. They have created unique experiences that delight and surprise. Some examples of this include:

Foursquare: If you drag down far enough to update your feed you will notice a starlight skyline with a girl hanging onto a balloon. This further immerses the user in location and discovery experience that Foursquare embodies.

Twitter: When you open the app the feed and connect tabs softly light up to let you know there is new activity for you to check out. This entices engagement from the user and makes you feel more connected to the app and network.

Sunrise: After launching the app the sunrise logo on the top bar animates to let you know its syncing and downloading the latest data.

Stocks: If you rotate the Apple Stocks app to landscape it gives you an interactive chart for that stock. I wish more apps would take advantage of surprising a user when the orientation changes. A lot of mobile apps just ignore landscape mode.

Make sure to check out the article to learn more about Dan’s take on Microinteractions.

User acquisition and the importance of clear calls to action

User acquisition and marketing are critical for the success of a product, and even more so at the beginning stage of the product lifecycle. Part of driving that success is having very clear calls to action, especially around asking users to sign up, watch something or try your product.

Here are some items to take into consideration when designing and incorporating calls to action. The most common form of generating a acquisition funnel is the landing page which most of the below applies to:

Color: Use bright, contrasting colors on buttons or text to make the call to action stand our against your standard color palette

Position: Primary calls to action (try, sign up, watch, etc) should be toward the top of the page and above the fold to grab a user’s attention

Repetition: Repeating the call to action again below the fold can help increase conversion significantly

Consistency: All calls to action should have the same color and design so there is visual consistency to help users recognize actions they can take (button, text, styling, etc)

Copy: Use words or phrases representative of the action you want users to take. Do you want them to “Watch x” “Try x” “Sign up.” Try avoid using plain calls such as “Click Here,” “Click Me,” etc.

Based on the above, some examples of products that do a great job with calls to action are:

  • MailChimp
  • Dropbox
  • Twitter
  • Dribbble
  • Gumroad
  • Salesloft
  • Mailbox

If you have any other recommendations drop them in the comments below.

Customer service is part of your product

Customer service and support is often a function that is overlooked from a product management perspective. There are debates as to whether it falls under sales, account management, product, community or marketing.

It’s my opinion that customer service and support should fall heavily under product. If it is not influenced by the product team then it needs to be heavily ingrained throughout all areas of the company and in every employee. Some of the most successful companies make customer service a huge part of their product experience. Great examples of this are Zappos, Uber, Mailbox, Airbnb and Soundcloud.

What do I mean by making it part of the product experience?  I mean that customer service should be a central feature that integrates with your product. Users should quickly and easily be able to find out how to contact you with questions or if they need support. Also, making it a visible component of your product gives users and customers a feeling of comfort. This comfort level is critical for products that use, store or integrate with a users personal information.

One other thing that you should do is have an informal, internal “SLA” (service level agreement) whereby you implement a process where you get back to any customer service request within minutes. Most users and customers are not used to great customer service and you can blow users away by getting back to them within minutes of the point of contact. Even if you don’t have an answer for them right away you should at least acknowledge you or your team are on top of it.

One great tool that I am a big fan of is Olark. It allows you to install a real-time chat widget on your site giving you the ability to chat with customers, answer their questions and put it in offline mode where users can still contact you via email. Other great tools for managing service are Twitter (obviously), UserVoice and Zendesk.

If you have any suggestions on other great customer service examples or tools drop them in the comments.

Designing web applications to create an app experience

Designing simple, elegant web applications is core to ensuring a consistent and clean user experience. I have spent a lot of time the last few weeks analyzing what helps provide an “app” aesthetic on the web, especially one that ensures the application feels more like a real app and not just a website. The reason this is important is because on the web there is no real definition of native or app–unlike mobile platforms such as iOS or Android.

Some key considerations to take into account are:

  • Logo & branding: Try to avoid full logos in the top left of the layout as this is something very native to traditional websites. If there is a need to incorporate branding you should use an icon or variation of the logo anchored into the nav bar.
  • Navigation bar: The header of the application should be anchored with a nicely designed (gradient, texture) bar that includes the branding and core navigation elements. The best way to represent the navigation elements is using buttons or icons, but try to avoid using icons that represent mobile motifs.
  • Footer bar: Having a nicely designed bar in the footer that is consistent with the nav bar really helps anchor the entire UI. It can make the application feel less like a web page that just ends after the main body.
  • Buttons: All buttons should have depth and strong interactions on click and mouseover. You should also use tooltips when necessary to give the user more information.
  • Font: Text should have shadows and depth, especially on navigation elements and buttons. I would also consider using custom fonts that you can get from Typekit or Google Web Fonts rather than standard Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, etc.
  • UI separation: Use strong ridgelines that have depth for separating buttons, elements, rows and assets. Spotify does a great job with this on their buttons and table headers on their grids.
  • Compact size: Design apps so that they are as small and as tight as possible, unless there is a real need for the window size to be large.
  • UI Interactivity: Making the UI customizable and interactive is really important. Adding things like animations, mouseover effects or being able to drag/drop UI elements is important.
  • Grids: All grids should have fixed headers when you scroll down, fixed column widths so the columns dont shift when data comes in and should be interactive when you mousover or click in a cell (such as changing the color of a row on mousover).
  • Flat Design: Flat design is also becoming a very big trend and one that I am following very closely. It can make very simple applications feel elegant and fluid. There is a really great article here that you should read if you want to learn more.

Below are some applications that do a great job incorporating the above elements are:

  1. Wunderlist
  2. HipChat
  3. Twitter
  4. Tweetdeck
  5. Spotify
  6. Asana
  7. Yammer
  8. Inbox2