Application ratings are the main drivers behind people's decisions about download or purchase of the app.

Importance of app ratings. 90% of consumers consider ratings to be an essential part of their evalution of a new app.
Importance of app ratings. 79% of consumers check ratings and reviews before downloading an app.
Importance of app ratings.55% of consumers check ratings and reviews before in-app transaction.


People base their purchase decisions on the opinions of others. The average rating and rating count are the first things people see when previewing the app on the App Store or the Play Store. Those are first bits of information allowing for evaluation of the product. That’s why users’ satisfaction and users’ positive feedback are essential to standing out in a crowded App store or a Play store.

iOS / App Store App Ratings Presentation
Android / Play Store App Ratings Presentation

There are several tricks and small tweaks that can help you improve mobile app ratings and increase the number of reviews. However the truth is simple – if your users aren’t happy with the product, there’s no trick to force them to leave a 5-star rating.

Luckily there’s a proven way that can improve your mobile application and turn it into a great product – it’s User Experience optimization.

iOS app ratings before and after UX redesign

App ratings before UX redesign
App ratings after UX redesign

The above comparison shows the case of Camps Australia Wide mobile application. It is the biggest directory of free camping and caravan parks in Australia. The app was popular due to a paperback edition. Mobile app reviews, however, were atrocious. The UX optimization together with smart app rating prompts improved reviews of the mobile app dramatically. Both in ratings and numbers - the number of reviews increased tenfold and the ratings almost flipped from mostly 1 star to mostly 5 stars.

There are 4 steps that you need to undertake to improve your application and make your app ratings better:

1. Reach your existing users

To make a great app you need to fit into your users' expectations. You need to find out what they expect and how they use the product in real-life environments. There are many ways you can do it and if you mix all of the following, you’ll get a lot of insights:

  • analyze usage statistics
  • listen to existing feedback
  • create email/online surveys
  • conduct in-person interviews
  • follow your users and see how they use the product in real-life environments.

2. Improve and test

If you did at least two of the above points, you should gather many findings and improvement ideas. According to the 80/20 rule don’t waste your time on secondary issues and focus on the most important ones. Design solutions and validate them.

Create a prototype of your improvements and conduct user tests. The prototype can be very simple – some people use only paper and scissors – the point is, it needs to mimic the flow and functionality of the tested feature. The usability testing allows you to make sure your improvements make sense and address users’ pain points. The testing allows you to avoid costly mistakes and to tweak the functionality of the most important features.

3. Encourage people to rate your app in the right moment

Once you improve the overall user experience of your application, it’s time to ask your users for reviews. In general, people tend to leave a review after a negative experience, rather than a positive one. To overcome this, you need to prompt for reviews intelligently, at the right place and time.

You need to ask your users for reviews in the so-called “moments of joy”. Just after they accomplished a task and feel satisfied with an outcome. The obvious moment might be giving a like, saving or sharing content, etc.

There are few rules:

  • Don’t ask people for review too soon. Don’t be pushy, give users a chance to get to know your product first.
  • The iOS allows currently to ask for rating only 3 times in 365 days period. Use app rating prompts wisely.
  • Display rating prompts in the right moments – when your users enjoy using your app.

Increased frequency of app ratings after UX redesign

10 times more ratings added after UX redesign
Reviews added monthly

The rating frequency statistics come from the Camps Australia Wide mobile app case study.

4. Keep negative feedback away

Yet, there’s another trick. Ask people for reviews not only at the right time but ask the right people. The ones, that feel happy about your app. Simply, before displaying the app rating prompt, ask your users if they like your product and filter satisfied ones from malcontent ones.

Smart app rating prompt

This is a great way to gather direct user feedback. It allows you to boost five-star ratings and keeps negative feedback away. However, there’s a great chance Apple and Google will soon disallow such an approach. Let’s be honest, it’s not quite fair.

Summing up

If the app isn’t useful, enjoyable and easy to use, it won’t excel in ratings. There’s no magic behind it and lower quality products will lose with the better ones. UX optimization and human-centered design approach give you a chance to overpass competition. Recognize your product’s strengths, identify your users' needs, optimize your features and use in-app rating prompts intelligently.