This is a response to @DanielleLOwen, who left a twitter message for us this morning about the iTunes AppStore Reviews for myWorkTime. However, this response applies to anyone who reads the AppStore Reviews for any app. Firstly, I’ll quote Danielle’s tweet so that other readers can see the need for this response.
“@TusNuaDesigns tempted to try your myworktime app, but iTunes reviews for both versions putting me off. Once glitches fixed, am keen to try!”
I’ll deal with some specifics before I go into any general details about the AppStore Review mechanism.
Danielle is in Boston so I assume that she is looking at the US iTunes AppStore Reviews for myWorkTime & myWorkTime Lite. The most recent review for the myWorkTime Lite app is for version 1.3 and there are no reviews for the current version. There are 3 current reviews for the myWorkTime app, and the only genuine issue is that the current version crashes when the user clicks on the Week View calendar (the review states that it is the month view, however, this is wrong). The calendar issue has been fixed and version 1.4.9 is with Apple waiting to be reviewed. The other issues raised in the reviews are due to the user’s not understanding how to use the app (Yes, there is definitely a need for some instructions, and we are planning to provide some youtube tutorials), or requesting features.
Are AppStore Reviews of any Value
To put it simply, no. Allow me to explain why.
Developers cannot respond to the reviews on the iTunes AppStore. So when a review is left that contains incorrect information, such as “I can’t edit”, there is no way for the developer to respond to the user to correct the information, which means that anyone else that reads the review will think that the review is correct and base their assessment of the app on an incorrect review.
In general, users never edit or delete their reviews when an issue they have raised is addressed. For example, every single genuine issue that has been raised on the AppStore Reviews for both of the myWorkTime apps have been fixed, but the users that left the reviews haven’t edited their reviews so remove the concern, or deleted the review, or even left another review for the updated version to say that the issue has been resolved. This means that the reviews do not provide a level and balanced view of the app.
Another generalization is that most users will only make the effort to leave a review when they have an issue with an app, and are less inclined to make the effort to leave a review when everything is working properly. This is another reason that the AppStore Reviews do not provide a level and balanced view of any apps.
Essentially, there are 3 types of users, those who will contact the developer directly to resolve an issue, those who just stop using an app if they have an issue, and those who will leave an iTunes AppStore Review when they have an issue. Developers like the first type; If there is an issue, we want to know about it so that we can fix it.
iTunes Appstore reviews are not a fair representation of the user base of an app. When I say ‘fair’ I’m not having a tantrum, stamping my feet and saying “it’s not fair!”, I mean that the number of reviews is not representative of the number of users. For example, the myWorkTime app has a total of 13 reviews for all versions in the US, but over 7,000 people have bought it, the myWorkTime Lite app has a total of 8 reviews for all version in the US, but over 30,000 people have downloaded it.
Should users leave reviews on the iTunes AppStore?
Absolutely Yes. But, not if they are having an issue with an app. If you are experiencing problems with an app, contact the developer so that they can either correct your thinking about how to use the app, or correct the app if it isn’t working as you would expect. Allow the developer the chance to resolve a problem before you tell the world that the app has issues.
Remember that when you leave a review, you aren’t communicating with the developer because they can’t respond; you are effectively putting your fingers in your ears and shouting at the developer.
If you do leave a review that outlines some issues in the app, make sure that you edit the review once the developer has fixed the issue, and then leave a nice review for the new version.
If you are happy with an app, or if you have issue with an app but you have spoken to the developer and they are fixing your issue, leave a review to tell the world about the positive experience. Positive reviews enable app developers businesses to stay in business and keep improving their apps, increasing the chances that you will benefit from better functionality for the app that you have bought.
So, Danielle, should you buy the app? Yes. And after you’ve used it for a few days, tell us (directly) what you think of it and what features you would like to see, and we’ll do our best to give you the app of your dreams… well, a great app at least