Apps - In Our Own Words

I recently came across a great script that the developer of Instapaper wrote in his spare time that highlights some great insights about how we rate apps. The script was designed to crawl through the US Apple App store for the top 100 applications for every category and compile the most common words from the 1-star and 5-star reviews.

Here is the list of the most common reviews from the 5-star group:
  • Awesome, worth, thanks, amazing, simple, perfect, price, everything, ever, must, ipod, before, found, store, never, recommend, done, take, always, touch
And here is the list from the 1-star group:
  • Waste, money, crashes, tried, useless, nothing, paid, open, deleted, downloaded, didn't, says, stupid, anything, actually, account, bought, apple, already
What jumped out at me when I first read this list was that positive reviews really confirmed a lot of the terms that you commonly associate with strong digital experiences - simple, awesome, always, perfect. Applications that are associated with those words have been carefully crafted and thought through. They haven't been rushed to market and they aren't just extensions of something that already exists - they are unique to the device, to the system and to the expectations of the user.

On the flip side, apps that got the worst reviews were summarized in the language of disappointment - waste, useless, stupid, crashes.

Breaking through in the application market is just as (if not more) difficult as doing so on a site. When I consider my own application usage on my iPad / iPhone, if the application isn't awesome or simple within the first five minutes, I'm done. Research into application usage reflects that I'm not alone. Most apps are deleted within the first 30 days of their download. People try them, get bored, and move on.

The interesting insight about applications, though, is that we can rate all of them in the same place where they are downloaded. Imagine if the same was possible for every brand website that's ever existed? I suspect we'd see a lot of the same words associated to the 1-star reviews that we get on apps. If only we had a place to put them.