Circa's CEO has a news flash for developers that want to get their app reviewed

Shane Schick

I feel kind of guilty admitting this so publicly, but I recently uninstalled Circa. It's a great app, but I have too many others that I use more often, and my smartphone only has so much room. That being said, I wonder if I owe Matt Galligan a review.

The CEO of Circa recently took to Medium to publish "The Right Way To Ask Users To Review Your App," and it's one of the most insightful things I've read in a while about the ongoing struggle for developers trying to tackle both discovery and engagement. The basic rules Galligan points out--create a great app, don't annoy people, etc.--are by no means new. The details of how Circa applied these practices, however, could be helpful to those who hope to reach a similar level of success.

As I've written before, pop-ups asking for reviews are a distraction at best and harassment at worst. Galligan says Circa experienced the same reaction from its users, which is why it eventually evolved to a scaled-down, more integrated approach to soliciting feedback: A dialogue box they could scroll past which simply says, "Enjoying Circa News?" with a choice of "Yes!" and "Not really."

Galligan explains how the nuance helps: 

Asking for a rating is binary. Users will either rate your app, or they won't. But the rating itself is not binary — they may still rate your app poorly, such as if they're annoyed by being asked. By adding a question into the equation you can actually get valuable feedback from users that aren't enjoying the app. Tapping "not really" presents our readers with a different question, specifically requesting their feedback. "Yes" will separately lead them to an ask for a rating.

This is a far more thoughtful way of using the review mechanism not merely as a form of user-generated marketing but a natural check-in on the experience they're having with an app. Galligan adds that the question is aimed primarily at Circa's power users; it's only shown to those who have spent at least three days with it and have opened it 10 times or more. That's much more targeted than the scattershot approach taken by so many other developers, who lob review requests to anyone with a pulse. (Imagine if your host at a holiday party asks if you're having a good time before you've even taken your coat off. Would you really be ready to say yes?)

Here's a thought: What if developers adopted Circa's method as a sort of de facto standard? I'm sure we'd never get all apps to do it, and it would surely require some tweaking for different kinds of mobile experiences. But standardization would be really helpful to developers and consumers alike. No one's really tracking this, but I would suspect the worst reviews you'd ever see would be ones that asked app users what they think of the way app review requests in general are presented today. Maybe that's a good story for Circa to break next.--Shane