Resources for Designing Notification Systems

Designing a wholistic notifications system? Here are some articles I've been reading or mean to read.


A double-edged sword

  • Done well, notifications can create an engagement snowball effect. On the other hand, create a system that's too noisy or irrelevant and users will disable notifications or delete the application altogether.

[[!Start with why]]

  • Start by identifying the outcome you want to achieve: the value for the user and for your product. How does it help you both achieve your goals? This 'why' guides everything else. If there is no 'why', then you're probably creating noise.
  • A helpful framework to work through. Each determines the next: value -> trigger -> importance -> channel -> content
  • Consider: What are you sending? Why? To whom? when? How?
  • The level of importance depends on the immediate value to users and determines channel, timing, and content.

Give users control

  • More setup = more user effort. Establish smart defaults but don't lock users in and prompt users to add or edit settings at appropriate moments (ex: in Slack, the first time you receive a notification on the weekend, they prompt you if you want to change your notification window)
  • Be wary of multi-channel spam. Simultaneous pings are jarring (looking at you Apple, scaring the living daylights out of me when my laptop, phone, and tablet all go crazy).

Don't forget 'who'

  • Different users might need different notifications. Likewise, users at different stages of familiarity with a product need different notifications. Those help notifications might be valuable for new users, but annoying for folks more experienced with the product.
  • What time is it for them? Maybe don't notify them in the middle of the night.

Recommended references

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