Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

As a writer, I am often being asked to help app makers with push notifications. Designing a push requires both time and energy and it’s never an easy task to do especially if you are a technical thinker. What I mean by a “technical thinker” is that a lot of people see only one side of a push notification; they have something to tell their app users and they just tell it. Usually through a very generic message. This is way too technical.

But the fact is that a push notification is a marketing tool no less important than SMS and emails. So, app makers need to be careful with this to make the most out of it. Mastering the technique of merely sending a push is not yet enough to make that push work. You have to convey a marketing message in a very user-friendly way. So, let’s examine my algorithm of designing mobile push notifications that don’t suck. Here you are!

When to send the push

Definitely NOT when your users are sleeping. Also, always send push notifications to users in their local timezone. Next, consider where people are in their day. Generally, app usage peaks at around 8pm.

What to say

Make the message precise and brief. You have nearly 10 words to make an impact, so use those words wisely.

Make sure to add a call to action like “Slide for more,” “Slide to view,” “Press for more,” “Share,” “Read on,” “Bookmark” etc.


How to say it

The tone of voice is extremely important to express what you really want to say. Being friendly is not enough, start personalizing the pushes. If you can add the recipient’s name or any kind of specific information like “Hey, you have something in your cart,” then go for it! But note that personalization does not only mean addressing someone by name. It means segmenting users based on their behavioral data.

A few push notification best practices

Some apps help their users meet their goals like offering to open the app to grab a boarding pass…


Here, the push notification serves as a reminder for the user to check their boarding pass while preparing for the trip.

or to request a ride ASAP to avoid surge pricing

Other apps hype an upcoming event…

Urban Airship

Ideally, you can send a push notification like this a few hours before the event. In this example, we see a time-limited offer that would encourage interested users to slide to get their invites.

Some apps encourage users to achieve a new level in a game or a contest…

While some other apps create a feeling of urgency to make you buy something…

Inapptics Blog

It all depends on what you want to accomplish with a push notification and how your users are going to respond to it.

So what?

Just be careful with what you send to your users. Push notifications can make or break the deal. And if you ever bore a user, you are going to lose them forever. I know that’s pretty sad. So, make sure to be relevant, nice, precise, and timely. Good luck!

About me:

I’m a startup enthusiast and a writer. Currently founder and publisher of Anatown content marketing agency (the redesigned website coming soon…).

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How to design Mobile Push Notifications that Don’t Suck was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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