Why you should read app reviews?

Recently, I read thousands of DropBox reviews. Call me insane, but it was one of the most fascinating things I have done recently. I got to know the Good, the bad and the ugly side of our creation, DropBox.

“What’s so intriguing about reviews?” you might wonder. Reviews are not there just for the other users to learn about your app, It’s there for us, the creators to understand the feedback directly from the users. I was ecstatic that moment as if I found a hidden treasure.

We do conduct user studies at DropBox. But It is limited to a small subset of the data. It was not enough for me, I wanted more. I wanted to know the real opinions from all around the globe.

Looking back, I cannot be more thrilled that I did this. There is no way, I would have known so many interesting things even if I have gone the route of ad and marketing campaigns to understand our customers. What’s better, I literally had to spend “Zero” dollars for this.

app review

1. People like to have an opinion

Not everyone who uses the app will give their review. But if someone is taking the effort and time to go to the product page and write a review, they feel strongly about it, whether good or bad.Unsurprisingly, I noticed a lot of reviews mentioning the superlatives like best”, “most” and “worst” more often than others.

I noticed that more than 70% of reviews were either 1 or 5-star. To put it in simple words, over two-thirds of the people either loved or hated our app.

What makes people pick extreme sides? Is it because people who rated 1 star did not find what they were looking or because they think they have seen much better apps under the same category.

Do people who rated 5 stars loved it because they haven’t tried an app like this before or because they think the app performs better than other similar apps?

It’s a fun exercise going down the rabbit hole analyzing the possible scenarios. We do have our theories but I like to think it’s because they just like being heard.

2. People like to know what’s going on

We ended publishing release notes recently because we thought they were not important enough for the users. Instead, we replaced them with a generic message saying “regularly releases updates”. I was of the opinion that people ignore reading release notes much like the terms and conditions.

Guess what? I was wrong. Turns out there are a lot more people who read release notes whenever we push an update. A shocking 12% were not happy with generic updates. That’s more than 1 person out of 10 people.

3. People use apps in creative ways

Human beings tend to be remarkably creative and you can never guess how people might put the product to use.

Are you aware that Play-Doh was originally invented to be a wallpaper cleaner? Little did the creators knew that some people were using it for their art projects.

At some point, creators noticed this and decide to fine-tune the product and market it to be used as a children’s toy. It was a stroke of genius. Sales of Play-Doh soared and it holds it’s position as one of the most popular toys of the 20th century.

For DropBox, people mentioned all sort of novel ways and I will be thankful to them. For instance, I noticed people use it as a note-taking app or a music player.

Keeping these in mind, we could enhance the features so that they can be effectively used as a music player by adding a shuffle button for example. The possibilities are endless and could well be on our way to building our next big thing all because I paid attention to people’s opinions.

4. Feedback is stimulating

Building Products is tough. It is easy to lose sight of how we’re changing people’s lives. Every time I encounter a personal note from a user, the warmth of it gives so much joy to my heart.

Sometimes I see a note that makes me sad

I find notes like this inspiring. Feedback is an often overlooked treasure. It isn’t the kind of reward we were looking for, but it’s still insanely informational.

The fact that we are creating for the real people and not for some company is all the more satisfying and humbling.

5. Ratings vary a lot by country:

DropBox app has its presence in over 100 countries.

The app fared well in some countries while not so much in others which is strange knowing that the app is similar in all aspects except for the menu language.

In the US, for iOS, approximately the number of 5-star and 1-star reviews is equal. But in Japan, 1-star reviews are twice than 5-star reviews and in Brazil, the tables have turned, a lot of 5-star than 1-star reviews.

What could be the possible reasons? I would bet on two things

1. Translation Quality: Some languages are harder to translate and if the text does not sound natural enough to native speakers they won’t mind venting out their frustration in the form of 1-star reviews

2. Cultural Bias: People from different cultures respond differently to different things.

DropBox conducted a survey about UI languages recently and unsurprisingly, the Japanese got the lowest score. Brazilians tend to give higher ratings in general as evident by a past Youtube survey.

6. Android users love us more than iOS users:

Okay, I got to be honest, this one puzzled me. Despite being similar in Android and iOS, for some reason, Android users gave us higher ratings than iOS.

Is it because Android users are happy in general? Or because they have lower expectations than iOS users?

In a Twitter poll, 37% of creators said they rarely or never check their app reviews. If you are one of them, think again!

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