Prompting the User to Rate the App in Alter

In the recent past, there has been a good deal of discussion surrounding the implementation of “Rate This App” dialogs.

Of those that I regularly listen to, John Gruber discussed it with Daniel Jalkut on Episode 64 of The Talk Show – and Marco Arment wrote about it in his article: Apple Can’t Ban “Rate This App” Dialogs. Marco closes that article with the following:

“We’re stuck with these annoying dialogs. All we can really do is avoid using them ourselves and stigmatize them as akin to spam, popup ads, and telemarketing4 — techniques only used by the greedy, desperate, shameless, and disrespectful.”

I agree with Marco. Interrupting the user equates to spam.

A passive approach is preferable; e.g. including a rate suggestion/link in an app’s Settings screen (About screen, etc.). Something like that never gets in the user’s way, it serves as an occasional reminder, and should they decide to rate the app it can make the process a little easier.

This is also a good place to offer the user a convenient way to email a support question, or feedback.

App ratings are important…

App ratings hold sway in the App Store. Not only that, there’s the current-version-rating thing going on. This is the system Apple has made. Working within this system, some developers choose to put a modal prompt in front of the user, repeating the process with each app update.

Because it works.

Something different?

I won’t adopt any approach that interrupts the user for my benefit. To me, the cost is too high.

However, given the importance of user ratings and the way that they work in the App Store, with Alter, I wanted to consider a design that encourages users to rate the app.

I set out the following requirements:

  1. Something more prominent; a visual cue to rate the app.
  2. Something that can refresh with each version.
  3. Follow the iOS Human Interface Guidelines, which advise: Don’t ask for an app rating to soon…
  4. Don’t interrupt the user.

What I’ve implemented with Alter.

When new users run the app it looks as follows. On the left, the empty state. On the right, the user has pasted some text to create a list.

After 7 uses of the app the interface changes; a rate (star) button has been added, top right. If the user explicitly taps that button, they’ll be shown a “Rate this App” style dialog.

With each subsequent use of the app the rate button fades slightly, making it less prominent. A further 7 uses and the button disappears completely.


This is what I hope to achieve with this design:

A prominent hint. The rate button provides a visual prompt that’s considerably more prominent than the rate-suggestion in Settings, but it’s still passive. Using a star is intended to convey the notion of rating; I’m not trying to trick users into tapping the star.

A temporary hint. If someone likes the app but they’re simply not interested in rating it, the rate button will go away. A button on the navigation bar is not insignificant; the rate dialog isn’t a feature that deserves to hog the user’s attention. That’s why the rate button is transient.

A patient hint. If someone has made 7 lists in the app, my feeling is that used it enough to consider a rating. Waiting this amount of time feels responsible; they should know whether or not the app is useful to them.

Something different. Encouraging? Sure, it’s still a ‘Rate this App’ dialog, but it’s also a little different. This approach is (to me) more respectful of the user’s time. Maybe some users will appreciate the design? Some might be interested by the button fading? My goal is to encourage people to rate the app, in a fun, responsible way.

Visually interrupted?

There’s an argument to say this implementation visually interrupts the user. I considered this during the implementation and would consider other views on this…

For the moment, I’m happy with where I’ve drawn the line.