How should I improve the UI of My App? a study of user reviews of popular apps in the Google Play

Qiuyuan Chen, Chunyang Chen, Safwat Hassan, Zhengchang Xing, Xin Xia, Ahmed E. Hassan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


UI (User Interface) is an essential factor influencing users' perception of an app. However, it is hard for even professional designers to determine if the UI is good or not for end-users. Users' feedback (e.g., user reviews in the Google Play) provides a way for app owners to understand how the users perceive the UI. In this article, we conduct an in-depth empirical study to analyze the UI issues of mobile apps. In particular, we analyze more than 3M UI-related reviews from 22,199 top free-to-download apps and 9,380 top non-free apps in the Google Play Store. By comparing the rating of UI-related reviews and other reviews of an app, we observe that UI-related reviews have lower ratings than other reviews. By manually analyzing a random sample of 1,447 UI-related reviews with a 95% confidence level and a 5% interval, we identify 17 UI-related issues types that belong to four categories (i.e., "Appearance,""Interaction,""Experience,"and "Others"). In these issue types, we find "Generic Review"is the most occurring one. "Comparative Review"and "Advertisement"are the most negative two UI issue types. Faced with these UI issues, we explore the patterns of interaction between app owners and users. We identify eight patterns of how app owners dialogue with users about UI issues by the review-response mechanism. We find "Apology or Appreciation"and "Information Request"are the most two frequent patterns. We find updating UI timely according to feedback is essential to satisfy users. Besides, app owners could also fix UI issues without updating UI, especially for issue types belonging to "Interaction"category. Our findings show that there exists a positive impact if app owners could actively interact with users to improve UI quality and boost users' satisfactoriness about the UIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
Number of pages38
JournalACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Mobile app reviews
  • the Google Play Store
  • user interface

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