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Are reviews worth reading?

23 August 2017

This article is written by a software developer and is about reviews of an app he was involved in creating for Dropbox. He read a lot of reviews.

Since book reviews are of continuing interest to most authors, PG was interested to see so many similarities in the behaviors of readers of books and the users of software apps. The OP’s analysis of star ratings from various subgroups of users was particularly intriguing.

PG thought some of this software author’s thoughts might be beneficial to those who write books (which are converted into ebooks which are a component in ereading software programs).

From Medium:

I recently read thousands of reviews about our Dropbox app. Call me crazy, but it was the most riveting thing I’ve read all year. I laughed, I cried, I got warm fuzzies inside.

Why in the world would anyone read so many app reviews? Well, I was on a mission. I wanted to learn more about our users and what they thought about our product.

Yes, we run user studies at Dropbox, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to hear from people across the globe. I wanted to read their actual words — tirades, triumphs, and all.

Looking back at this experience, I have to say it was incredibly humbling. I learned new things about our users that I never would’ve learned otherwise.

. . . .

1. People just want to be heard

The first thing that jumped out at me while reading these reviews was that people had such strong opinions about our app. As I scrolled from review to review, I noticed people using a whole lot of superlatives—words like mostbest, and worst popped up again and again.

. . . .

After crunching the numbers, I found that over 70% of our app reviews were either 5-star or 1-star reviews. Over two-thirds of reviewers either loved or hated our app.

Why is it that people tend to give extreme ratings? There are a few theories that try to explain extreme responding, but I like to think that people on the internet are just passionate about voicing their opinions.

People want to be heard, and giving a 1-star or 5-star rating adds oomph to your opinion.

. . . .

2. People want to know what’s going on

A little over a year ago, we stopped writing release notes for our iOS and Android apps. Instead, we used a generic message about how we “regularly release updates.” Although we wanted to write release notes, there were a bunch of internal reasons that made it difficult for us to keep writing them.

You might be thinking, “Who the heck reads release notes anyway?” Well, it turns out a lot of people do. After we stopped writing release notes, 12% of reviewers complained about our generic release notes. That’s more than one in every ten reviews!

. . . .

5. Ratings differ a lot by country

Our Dropbox app is available in over 100 countries. Except for the UI language, the app is pretty much the same in every country.

Because it’s the same app, you’d expect the ratings to be roughly the same in every country, right? Well, it turns out our ratings are pretty different in each country.

Let’s look at our iOS app, for example. In the United States, we have roughly the same amount of 5-star reviews as 1-star reviews. But in Japan, we have almost twice as many 1-star reviews as 5-star reviews. In Brazil, it’s flipped—we have a lot more 5-star reviews than 1-star reviews.

Link to the rest at Medium

Reviews

3 Comments to “Are reviews worth reading?”

  1. You might be thinking, “Who the heck reads release notes anyway?”

    You mean people don’t? I always do, especially after one-too many instances of hearing or experiencing “updates” that break something that had been working just fine. I want to know if you’ve added features, subtracted features, addressed specific bugs, etc. Why wouldn’t you tell customers this?

    • They’re trying to take a page from microsoft – sadly it’s the page nobody else liked either …

  2. One problem with release notes is that modern cloud software follows an agile paradigm and is ‘released’ – that is to say updated – constantly.

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