Bill Reiss is a Windows Platform Development MVP and a Senior Consultant for AgileThought

Up Your Ratings on Windows Phone Apps Part 1

One of the questions I’ve herd a lot lately is “How do I increase the number of reviews for my Windows Phone Apps?”. This is the first in a series of posts where I’ll describe some of the things I’ve done to have multiple apps in the Windows Phone Store with 4+ star average ratings. It’s surprisingly difficult to provide a review on Windows Phone so anything you can do to make it easier for your happy users to review your app is “A Good Thing ™”.

Obviously the first thing you need to do is create a quality app. Making it easier to review a crappy app is just going to get you more 1 star ratings which can do more damage than good. This part is up to you, but once you’ve done that much there are some easy steps you can take to significantly increase the amount of reviews you get.

You won’t get good ratings from everyone, and generally users are more likely to complain than compliment you. This is true for almost any type of business, bad news travels faster, and it definitely applies to apps. Fortunately not all is lost, if you make it easier for your happy users to rate and review your app, many of them are happy to do so.

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There is an added benefit to having a lot of positive reviews. Nokia has a program for Windows Phone developers (in the USA, Canada, and UK only right now, sorry) called DVLUP where you can earn prestige and points that you can redeem for some really cool rewards. One of their highest point challenges right now is to have an app with a 4+ star average rating. Rewards start at 25 reviews and go all of the way up to 2000 reviews. These challenges can stack on top of each other so even though the first one is worth 500 points (about a $30 value) if you were to get to 2000 reviews that’s

500 + 1000 + 2000 + 3000 + 4000 + 5000 + 10000 = 25500 XP

which works out to be about $1700 in value. That’s enough for a Surface Pro, an Xbox with Kinect, AND a Lumia 820. Or get a bunch of American Airlines gift cards and take the family on vacation. Something to shoot for?

Source code for this sample: http://www.billreiss.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ReviewMeApp.zip

One of the easiest things you can do is provide an About page with a “Review Me” button. You’d be surprised how many users will actually go to your About page. You can easily create your own but why bother when someone has already done the work for you? There are a few of these available for free, but my favorite is YLAD (Your Last About Dialog) by Peter Kuhn (aka Mister Goodcat). I love how it is highly configurable via an XML file and you basically just drop it in your project and away you go. There is no reason not to provide a high quality About page when you can do it in a matter of minutes with YLAD. (I see Peter has a similar project called YLOD for a Settings page which looks very helpful too).

You can download YLAD from CodePlex but it’s also available through NuGet making it even easier. In your Windows Phone project, select Manage NuGet Packages…

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Then in the NuGet dialog, search for YLAD and install.

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Now to navigate to the about page, I’ll just add a button to the main page. You’ll have to do whatever makes the most sense for your app, for example put a menu item in the app bar. Here’s my button:

<Button Content="About This App" HorizontalAlignment="Left" VerticalAlignment="Top" Click="Button_Click"/>

And then in its Click event:

private void Button_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
    NavigationService.Navigate(new Uri("/YourLastAboutDialog;component/AboutPage.xaml", UriKind.Relative));
}

That’s all there is to it. If I then run the app and click the button, I get the following:

about_dialog_1

Now obviously we’re not quite done but the “Review this App!” button is live. It won’t actually work until you publish unless you’ve already published the app and set the application ID appropriately, but you can tap it and see that it tries to navigate to the review page in the Windows Phone store.

So how do we fill in the rest of the information? When the NuGet package was installed, it also created a Content/About folder in your project. In there you can customize the style of your About page using the AboutStyles.xaml file, and you can customize the content using the Data.xml file. The Data.xml file is very well commented to tell you exactly what to do, but it’s pretty clear where we set Author and Publisher values:

image

After setting the Author and Publisher, it looks like this:

about_dialog_2

Pretty cool huh? One line of code and some XML tweaking and we have a professional looking about dialog. If you want to take it to the next level, there are some more advanced topics covered in the documentation on CodePlex such as using custom XAML in pivot items and advanced formatting. Thanks Mister Goodcat!

Source code: http://www.billreiss.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ReviewMeApp.zip

  • koldo

    Another one cool tip is that a user that uses your app several times is due to the user enjoys the app and and the comun sense indicates user is going to asses your app very positively, is then when after n (10, 15…) app uses, you can show a message box indicating that user is using the app and maybe would like to share a review with other users

    • http://billreiss.com/ Bill Reiss

      Yep that’s topic for part 2 :)