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October 14, 2015

Why your mobile application does not reach 5 stars in the app stores

Customer ratings in the AppStore and Google Play are a key factor when someone decides to download your application. Ratings are necessary to the success of your app as they give a hint about the user experience and the service provided.

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To help you increase your customer ratings in the AppStore and Google Play, we analyzed the reasons behind a rating.

Example of mobile rate

What is a good customer rating?

First, we have to define what a good or a bad grade is. We will use the research made by Dennis Pagano and Walid Majeeh “User Feedback in the AppStore: An Empirical Study”. This study explains why only reviews with a rating above 4 are good for your app.

"understanding online star ratings"

The study analyzed 1,126,453 reviews on 1,100 applications, 550 free and 550 paid apps. It shows 95% of the reviews with a grade of 4 or 5 express a compliment. This ratio falls to 20% when the grade is equal to 3 and 0% for 2 and 1.

What is behind a good or a bad rating?

We observed it is very hard for companies developing mobile apps to analyze clients’ reviews on the stores and draw conclusions. Why? Those comments are too short or vague. To have a better comprehension, it is important to know some numbers:

  • 80% of the reviews are shorter than an SMS (less than 160 characters) and 99% contains less than 675 characters.
  • 90% of the users write only one review
  • 60% of the comments affect free apps and 40% paid apps.

However, if we look at the data globally, there is a trend behind all the comments. The study, highlighted by AppAnnie shows 5 main subjects in the negative reviews:

  • User experience: “These menus are counterintuitive.” “the design is ugly”
  • Functionality: “It’s a good idea but there are too many bugs”
  • Improvements: “This app could be so much better if they add a profile”
  • General impression: “What’s the purpose of this app? None”
  • Promise: “This app is really disappointing”

What is the main reason behind a negative user comment?

The analysis of the grades between 1 and 3 in the AppStore and Google Play gives us the answer:

Breakdown of appstore score by category

Two main areas of improvement for your mobile application are the UX and functionality thinking of the user first.

The three major lessons here are:

  • A good customer rating in an application store is at least 4 stars
  • 80% of the comments are less than 160 letters
  • 75% of the negative comments (from 1 to 3) are focused on user experience and functionality

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Thibault Geenen

Thibault Geenen

Thibault is fascinated by the power of UX, especially user research and nowadays the UX for Good principles. As an entrepreneur, he's a huge fan of liberated company principles, where teammates give the best through creativity without constraints. A science-fiction lover, he remains the only human being believing that Andy Weir's 'The Martian' is a how-to guide for entrepreneurs.

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