Noisy notifications and building for users cover image

Noisy notifications and building for users

March 12, 2018

"What is the best daily alert a person could get - SMS sized, in your opinion?"

I was building a little app for myself when another dev friend asked me a question regarding notifications. While I was coming up with a funny come back I found myself having more to say than I thought; which brings me here.

Growing up before cell phones, there was no way to contact someone in an instant, other than calling their house phone. The idea of a notification didn’t exist. If it was important you either got a phone call or a piece of mail, which expected you to make another phone call. Let’s just pretend faxing never existed, m'kay?

Lately everything is a notification. Every app, website and service is battling for your attention. Your bank account notifications are lumped in with your Twitter notifications. In my opinion only one of those are important.

You as a consumer are now tasked with the responsibility of sifting through that noise to find what’s actually important. That means changing preferences and configuring devices and emails, the list goes on.

To answer the original question, there is no best answer. If you notify your users, you are creating additional noise. The best you can do for a user is not notify them at all present them with options for how they want to stay informed.

Personally I disable 90% of my notifications. I usually keep work related email off my phone and also enable do not disturb mode from 7pm to 7am. That’s personal time, even phone calls don’t alert me.

If it is truly important I will receive a phone call or a text, during business hours. Everything else I can check-in on individually.

Credit to Katerina Limpitsouni for create these awesome free SVGs.