ownCloud App in Review Heaven

How did we get from 2-3 to 4-5 stars ratings? David Gonzalez, lead app developer at ownCloud, talks about how we managed to increase the ownCloud app development quality.
ownCloud Android app release

The 2.7.0 ownCloud Android app was released a couple of weeks ago and our 4 and 5 stars reviews increased significantly.

But this was not always the case. To be honest, some of our past reviews have not been too good before the 2.7.0 release although some of them were due to server misconfigurations.

That’s why we decided to change our approach and after several tries and ideas, we finally managed it.

What have we changed in our development process to receive better reviews?

Communication is key! Thats why we have put the focus on several points:

1. Answer reviews actively:

This is the key of our innovative approach. We realized that we didn’t pay enough attention to user reviews. This had to change.

Answering reviews in Play Store takes some time and that’s the reason why some people might think the reward obtained is not worth it compared to the time spent, but many at first negative reviews could be improved by opening a simple communication channel.

Despite all efforts we cannot pursue everyone and most of the 1-star reviews are most likely not updated even after solving the problem. By answering to them like below at least we give everyone the chance to improve their user experience.

reply 1


2. Ask for more information when the issue is related to a server misconfiguration 

Since ownCloud is self-hosted and self-administrated it is different to other preconfigured cloud solutions which might exchange security for a simpler user experience. With ownCloud the admins and users are responsible for their servers and the configuration, which might be not an easy task for everyone.

Unfortunately, it’s a common scenario that this leads to misconfigured servers and furthermore bad reviews. When trying something new and it doesn’t work as expected, often the app gets blamed and eventually rated with 1 star on Google Play Store, without checking whether the server is properly configured.

The opposite case appears frequently, in which the admin knows exactly what he is doing resulting in a perfectly fine working ownCloud environment.

When we suspect that the bad behavior is due to a server misconfiguration and Google Play Store is not the best place to open a huge discussion, we suggest other options by writing a response like the one below:

reply server 1

On suspicion of misconfigured servers ownCloud tries to gather more information about the problem


3. Discuss about possible answers that fit each case

To provide profound answers, there are many people involve, such as developers or project owner. We decide jointly how the user can be helped in the best way and whether we can get something back in our development process by improving the quality.

In case some reviews need go into more technical details, developers might be asked to build more specific answers.


4. Encourage our users to rate the app

We all know that when we are satisfied with how one of our apps is working we do not usually write a 5 stars review for it on Google Play Store, so we included a new dialog in 2.7.0 to remind our users the importance of their feedback.


Feedback dialogue in ownCloud app 2.7.0

The dialog above will redirect our users to Google Play Store so they can give us their feedback, which is helping us a lot. Thanks to user feedback we know there are a lot of happy users using our app and that it works like a charm for them.

5. More user facing features

In every software product, there are releases in which just bug fixes are included, forgetting, in some cases, how important including user facing features are.

We have had ownCloud Android app versions without gorgeous new user facing features but this has changed with 2.7.0 version in which we included fancy and useful features such as the new wizard (image below), the pattern and fingerprint locks and GIF support.


The new setup wizard in ownCloud Android 2.7.0

Ok, but could you show me some numbers?

Nothing has happened if there are no facts, so let’s review some recent data about our reviews.

1. Updated ratings

The next diagram shows the way our ratings and reviews have been updated, including the effect our replies have had on those updates.

updated reviews 1

Review statistics after the “new” way

As we can see, 50% of positive reviews were updates of previous ratings after we reply them, making the average rating improve almost 1 star.

2. Monthly average

In the diagram below there’s a clear increment in our monthly average; around 3 during January, February and March and reaching an average of 4.4 in April.

reviews 2018

ownClouds monthly ratings


And last but not the least, the amount of reviews in April is also remarkable if we compare it with previous months, getting 363 5-stars reviews and 179 4-stars reviews.


After the review is before the review!

Nothing of the commented above would have been possible without a team effort and all the people involved in the process detailed before, so our goal is to keep taking care of our users, having reviews with more stars and making the Android app even better!



What do you think?

What are your experiences with our Android app? Do you have any proposals or feedback you might want to give us? Start a discussion and leave a comment below!


May 15, 2018

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