The 5 Star Review System is bad for everyone

As an app developer and app user, the 5-Star-Review-System used by all major platforms is bad.

1: Humans do not naturally make decisions on a single number

And app stores know this because they show a review distribution graph and highlights “useful” reviews and the like. But to me all of these tools are a poor way to determine if the app is right for me.

A more helpful bit of information would be if people with my device type got this app. Why did people decide to get this app and what they expected vs what they got.

App stores could send a follow up email to people who downloaded and installed then uninstalled the app asking why they did so. That might help get more clear information to help the developers and interested users better understand what the app is lacking. The follow up email is not ideal but even if a small number of people respond to the email, the follow up should instill a level of seriousness about app quality among users.

The review process needs to be separate from spam/scam reporting and it should be separate from performance and stability issues. The follow-up email could also serve as a way to defend against spammy and scammy apps.

2: A simple review is an illusion of feedback

Connecting users with app developers is the biggest opportunity to make apps better and better refine and clarify app listing. Too many times people give apps bad reviews because they expected something different from what the app ended up being.

A 1 star review will never help fix bugs, not improve the app description or help the developer better connect with current or potential users. I believe the app review should be a place where users can say why they use the app, or why not, but in a more guided way.

A 5 star review is nice, but doesn’t really help shape the app. Modern apps are constantly being updated to fix bugs, but also add new features and adjust the way an app works. It is rarely obvious how to change an app in only positive ways for the majority of users. Hearing from satisfied users and understanding why they use and like an app is critical, but more important is understanding what problem the app is solving in their life.

Windows 11 is an opportunity for Microsoft to stand out

With the new app store coming in Windows 11 Microsoft is at a fork in the road. Continue the boring stale app store status quo… or do something new.

I know criticisms are cheap, but above all I believe this is Microsoft’s chance to experiment with their app store. Investment in the services to support their store developers is long overdue.


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