I have an upcoming doctor’s appointment, I know because I’ve received two emails and a text reminding me of this. Reminders are great, but do I need so many? The text reminders are the most frustrating, especially since I never asked for them. This one joins a growing list of texts I receive that I never asked for–and can’t turn off. I have two companies that send emails and texts when a new bill is available AND when it has been paid–even though both are set for auto-payment. This feels less like helpful information, and more like nagging.

Do you really want to nag your users? I hope not. Notifications should be used judiciously. Those of us responsible for user experience (I’m looking at all of us, including product managers, developers, customer service, founders, CEOs… everybody) should really take a hard look at our notification strategy from the user’s standpoint and make sure it is serving them.

Here are a few of my suggestions:

  • Seriously, consider whether you need to send that notification at all, really.
  • Give your users the ability to tailor which notifications they will receive, how they will receive them (email/text/in-app/etc.) and how often and/or when.
  • Be smart about initial notification preferences, don’t just turn them all on by default. Most of your users should be perfectly happy to never adjust their notification preferences. A little user research goes a long way here.
  • Make sure notifications make sense, they should be specific, succinct and actionable.
  • Speaking of actionable. Instead of ending your messages with “Don’t reply to this message.”, figure out a way to let the user reply to the damn message. You’re the one that decided to send it, let them reply.

Now I’ll sit back and take my lumps from anyone who was notified of this post. At least none of them are getting a text about it, as far as I know anyway.

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