Don’t Push me cuz’ I’m Close to the Edge — The Do’s and Don’ts of Push Notifications

By Anushae Hussain

Design is all about solving problems. Here at TribalScale, tremendous thought is put into every design and product decision we make. When designing user experiences, we take an extremely empathetic approach to our end users. Notifications can be a powerful tool, but when leveraged improperly, they can destroy a user’s experience. 71% of people reportedly uninstalled apps because they found notifications annoying, making it the number one reason for uninstall along with complicated login processes, long load times and others.

There are two distinct types of notifications, push notifications and local notifications. Push notifications appear on your home screen and require permissions on iOS devices. On the other hand, local notifications appear within your app. For the purposes of this blog I will be focusing on the do’s and don’ts of push notifications.


The More the Merrier!

Unfortunately not in this case. Oftentimes apps end up using push the wrong way, sending far too many notifications. It is especially true when the same notifications recur constantly until the user checks their app. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences and can imagine how this constant overflow of alerts and notifications can be frustrating for users.

All Day Every Day

Some notifications that also drive users away are those that show up in irrelevant moments or times during the day. For instance, you may receive a notification to check out a new song on SoundCloud that you might actually enjoy, but it pops up while you’re sleeping. You may or may not check it in the morning, but chances are you will probably swipe it away, forget about it or ignore it completely. These result in a loss of app views and improper communication of content that users may actually think is interesting.

Do “Something” with it

Notifications that are too generic or have no “right” call to action can drive users away in a similar way.



Timing is a huge factor when it comes to push, a SoundCloud push notification to check out a new song on your commute to work is a lot more useful than one while you’re asleep.

Calls to Action

Notifications that deep link to a separate page of an app which prompts you to make a related action are useful to users. These types of notification usually require immediate action.

Relevancy — Only what users care about

Providing the user with relevant information that is valuable and meets the goal of the app is the right way to utilize notifications. For example, a language learning app sending you a one word pop quiz in the language you’re learning, like “How do you say animal in Spanish?”

Turn on and off

With many apps, users are able to customize the push notifications they receive, making notifications more manageable for them. Asking users to enable push based on context of how they use the app can help drive the right engagement. If a user opens an article about the upcoming United State’s elections, at this point asking them to turn on push notifications for elections based articles would be something that might interest them. This way, push drives traffic to your app, and provides meaningful content to the user, making it relevant.

Clients usually feel that users want to hear from them all the time, this unfortunately is not true. Yes push is an easy way to promote your application, but it is very important it’s not overdone and used properly so you aren’t driving users away.


About the author

Anushae Hussain went to school at Parsons School of Design in New York and worked with brands such as Nike while in the US. She has since transitioned to the tech industry, moving to Canada and becoming one of the first UX Designers at TribalScale.

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