Reviews : Average And Mean{;ness;ing}

So… Highlight has been out for a few months now.

First off, I am extremely surprised it’s getting as much attention as it does (by that, I mean more than 0. I can’t quite retire with the money it’s made me so far). So, my deep and sincere thanks to all of you who actually went and shelled out a whole dollar on that program! I honestly didn’t expect to get the few hundreds of downloads I got.

Back to the topic at hand: for years, I have heard, and read, how dreadful one can feel after getting a bad review. Given the ones I got, I can sincerely sympathize.

The very first thing I did when I pushed the app on the store, was to set up a page explaining how the software works. And I made really sure that the main feature (global toggle for on/off) was visible in the first two lines of the description of the app.

Out of the 5 (yes… 5) reviews listed, 3 of them are along the lines of “hey this program is ok, but an awesome feature would be to have an easy way to toggle it on/off”. Let me state again that this feature has been built in the software since 2006. And that’s in the first 2 lines of the description. And it’s stated clearly in the help page. Oh and there’s a video to demonstrate the actual principle. So… Hum… Well… Duh? And that is the basis for a bad review… Thank goodness I wasn’t planning on living off this app.

The other two are a bit harsh in terms of language, but I think the point underneath is fair: the users seem to think it’s too limited for their uses. It is indeed a simple app, that has 6 “pens” and one color setting. It does nothing extremely advanced, but it works perfectly for me when I’m showing off a demo to a somewhat large audience. And there’s some really clever things going on under the hood, but hey… That’s not really something the users are interested in.

The most interesting part, however, is that I have included a way to contact me at pretty much every level of the help. And the interaction with people who wanted features, or reported bugs has been overwhelmingly positive.

I have no background in, and very little knowledge of, the marketing sciences. But my scientist/engineer mind can’t explain how all these statements can be true simultaneously:

  • everyone I had an exchange with loves the app
  • I am an obscure developer, making an obscure app without any buzz or marketing
  • the only reviews are bad AND wrong for the majority
  • I have a steady sale average week-on-week

And honestly, this really doesn’t make me want to care about reviews. Maybe if the reviews were all positive, I’d sell more stuff. But most of all, it makes me think that the whole review thing is biased.

To write a review, you need to either have a good reason, or some time on your hand. When you’re pissed about something (albeit wrongly, since the feature you are clamoring for is actually already in there… since day one), that’s a good reason. When you feel like the seller needs a leg up or cheering up, that’s a good reason, but the sentiment on injustice has to be quite strong, I guess. So in order to get good reviews (and maybe max out the sales), the seller needs to put an extraordinary amount of effort to elicit that feeling in the buyer.

I choose to treat my customers right: if I find a bug, I’ll fix it. If a user finds a bug, I’ll fix it. If a user requests a feature, I’ll try to talk about it to see if it can be a fit, and explain my decision to the requester. But an anonymous review on the store, by somebody who hasn’t even taken the time of reading the 10 lines for the manual? I’ll pass, thank you.

Am I wrong to think like that?


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