Your app sucks and it’s all your fault

John Reeve | March 10th, 2009 | , ,

I am an iPhone newbie. I just got it last week. So the first thing I did was sift through the app store in search of cool apps I could install. I instantly zeroed in on the Public Radio Tuner, an iPhone app that “features hundreds of public radio streams available for free!” I was very excited. Imagine being able to listen to KCRW or WWOZ anywhere!

But before I downloaded it I did the smart thing and read the reviews. Two out of five stars? What happened? How could an NPR app score so low? So I dug in further to see what all the negativity was about. Here is a sampling of the low-rated reviews:

This shameful app does not even deserve a full star. The music on here is terrible, just jazz and classical in my area. There are only two reasons you would download this. 1) You are over 60 years old 2) You have no good taste in current music.

Where’s the Lil Wayne tracks? This app is hella weak fo sho…

yeah sure its a great idea but theres no hip/hop rap rock metal latin (besides the one station in puerto rico) its all just classical and jazz

So it’s obvious they didn’t read the description. They just saw “Free Radio”, downloaded, and then griped about it not doing what they wanted it to do. Doesn’t quite fit the image of the guy in the Mac/PC commercials, does it?

No matter how hard you try to clarify and niche your product offering, you are going to have people gloss over even the most basic of descriptions before diving in with a sledgehammer. In the world of web-based project management apps, it is not uncommon to have a prospective customer go through a similar routine.

The customer logs in, clicks around long enough to find out it doesn’t do this one obscure thing that it really should, and then gripes about it either in an email to your support staff or on your public forums. Despite the app never claiming to support said feature, or in fact, disclaiming support for it in the first place, that bit of copy never gets read, and a great application, like this Public Radio Tuner, gets bogged down with negative reviews.

Even a great app like Basecamp, which is great at what it claims to do, gets beaten down for not doing enough. And apps like Intervals get critics who say it’s doing too much. It’s well understood that you can’t please all the people all the time, but how do we zero in on the market we do want to please?

Most of us uphold Apple as the authorities on making stuff simple. If not even Apple can fend off these types of reviews, the rest of us will probably have to suffer through them as well. No matter how simple you make a web-based app, you are always going to have detractors. And its not your fault. It’s just the nature of the Internet.

6 Responses to “Your app sucks and it’s all your fault”

  1. Thomas says:

    I feel like you are forcing the argument a little, right?
    Most of the complaints I read have to do with the player not working very well
    unless you are using wifi. The app kind of does suck if you can’t use it on 3G or Edge and it’s going to get worse as these networks get more clogged…

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Intervals Blog

A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Jennifer Payne
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Jennifer Payne

Jennifer is the Director of Quality and Efficiency at Pelago. Her blog posts are based largely on her experience working with teams to improve harmony and productivity. Jennifer is a cat person.
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Michael Payne
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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