Notification overload 🤮 - fixed

Mobile notifications are the go to tool for marketers and app developers to raise engagement. As a UX Designer I am ambivalent - on the one side I want to use notifications if they are useful - on the other side I have the feeling that i am bombarded with notifications that I don't need.

This prompted me to a little field test. It's not hype scientific and it relies on several online tools which aren't as reliable. But I think it gives a nice insight.

I used IFTTT (which I'm a big fan of) and Google Sheets to log every notification that pops up on my main smartphone. I mostly set it up and forgot about it and after a year I looked back at the results and was stunned.

It is obvious that the amount of notifications is highly personal, because it depends from the amount of apps installed, the general propensity of these apps to show notifications and the general use of the device.

My smartphone usage might be a bit different than "the average" as I do not text/whatsapp as much - and messaging apps are for obvious reasons prone to notification overload. This lack of mobile chatting is compensated IMO by having way more apps installed than the general user (based on user interviews made at my actual work as a UX Designer for mobile apps).

So let's show the results:

ifttt.com_applets_eLqFf5Ev-save-notifications-from-all-of-your-apps-to-a-google-spreadsheet_edit_secure_key=BAhbB0kiDWVMcUZmNUV2BjoGRVRJIi1jZjU2NDYyNmViNTYzNGQyMDM0MGIzNjFmOTRhMDhjNTQ2MmUwY2NkBjsAVA%3D%3D--7f59850c1a8eeb283bb8188916b667 (1).png

42801 Notifications in 1 Year

This means more than 100 notifications per day 🤦🏻‍♂️

When I saw this number I was quite surprised --- actually more than surprised, I definitely had to do something about it cause it was clear that I was getting more notifications than I needed. I had so many notifications that I hit the rate limit of Google Spreadsheet 😲 and created 20 spreadsheets cause I hit the row limit.

 I had so many notifications that I hit a Google Sheets rate limit

I had so many notifications that I hit a Google Sheets rate limit

My next step was to analyse the Google Spreadsheet to see who the worst offenders where and either disable the notifications or uninstall the app. By attacking the worst offenders first I recon I would gain the most effect.

The numbers that interested me most where:

  • Number of apps that show notifications

  • Amount of notification top offending apps

Since I had so many separate files and I could go and export everything and combine it to analyse fully - but since I expect to have so many notifications, I just analysed a couple of files (each about a 2 weeks timeframe) and saw that the results where very similar.

Google Sheets proved to be ideal for this analysis as the Explore Tab is really a great feature where you can "ask questions" instead of create complicated formulas.

Here is a chart representing the result of the analysis - only the Top 10 apps of 48 are shown. As you can clearly see there are two Apps that cause the most notifications and WhatsApp is more prominent that I thought.

Top 10 App.png

I had to investigate a bit further and found out that I could cut down on Whatsapp notifications by eliminating a news service which would send me headlines 2 times a day. I mostly ignored them anyway.

Next I uninstalled AccuBattery as I had no more use for it to be honest. I installed that app to check the health of my 2 year old OnePlus 3T (the battery seemed weak) - but I already know for months now that the battery is at 71% original capacity ... no need to further test it.

The Android System notifications are trickier. There are some important ones, so I couldn't just turn them off. What I did though was to lower the priority of the notification to low - this way they don't show up in the navigation bar and they don't cause the led to blink. Technically they are still there, but I don't get bothered by them.

The net result is a reduction of 62% of notifications and possible interruptions. 😄

Really curios how it will impact day.