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Okay, this is exaggerated, but sometimes it feels like this when apps ask for permissions. Right?
You just have one chance to ask your user for permission. To increase your success rate while asking for permissions, you have to make two important decisions: when to ask your user and how to ask your user.
Image credit: Material Design
When to ask your users for permission
You can ask your users on two different points of the app usage. At the beginning, when they open the app the first time or in context at a specific point when you need the permission.
Keep in mind: Decide whether a permission is absolutely necessary to use your app or if it can be required later. Is the app useless when you don’t have the permission since the first usage?
Critical Permissions should be asked up-front. Critical permissions are understood as permissions, which you definitely need to offer your users the best user experience. Getting or not getting the permission will change the entire user experience. If you have an app which depends on the location of the users, declining the permission for locating can make the app useless. Make sure that they understand what your app does and why you need the permission.
You shouldn’t overwhelm your users with a series of permission requests when starting the app the first time. This might work if the users are familiar with your app and know the benefits they get from accepting. If not, it’s likely that they won’t accept. Moreover, you lose the chance to ask them again for permission.
Ask in context
Your users will feel overwhelmed when you ask them for permissions which importance they don’t understand. Uncritical permissions should be asked in context. Tell your users why you need the permission and which value they get.
Users are more likely to agree to permissions when they get asked during important tasks where the permission is needed.
How to ask your user for permission
After deciding when to ask your users for permission, you can start to design your permission request. Here you have to look at how clear the importance of your permission request is. Does the user understand why you need the permission or do you have to explain the importance and value?
You can decide between an educational or an un-educational request.
Keep in mind: Don’t expect your users to understand why it’s important and valuable to accept the permission request on the first view.
Wait for an user action
This matches with “asking in context”. If you want to make sure that your users know exactly why you need the permission and which value they have from giving you the permission, you should wait for an user action. This means: ask them early for access when needed. When you ask them after the user requests an action, they’ll understand why you need this permission. Moreover, they’ll understand that the app can’t fulfill their request without their permission.
Screenshot from Cluster mobile app
Add some informational words
You shouldn’t use the default request. This doesn’t tell the users anything about why it’s important to get his permission. During the onboarding process the users get confronted with a lot of requests and fields they have to fill out. They can’t possibly understand why they have to give you several permissions.
Add some informational words to the request, explain the value and build up trust.
Screenshot from Google Maps mobile app
You have one chance to ask your users for permission. If you do it wrong, or at the wrong time, you lose the chance to ask them again.
Here you can use a simple trick to not lose your chance. Show your users a “fake request” in advance. If they accept, show them the real request. You have two benefits of this trick:
- This fake request screen can include some educational information and describe your users why it’s important to accept the request and what benefits they get.
- If your users decide against accepting the permission you will not lose your chance to ask again. You can wait for a more opportune time to ask again.
Screenshot from Hangouts mobile app
Be clear about what permissions you accessing and why you need them. Offer your users this information and let them make informed decisions. Make all important information about the what and why available for them.
No permission? Don’t give up!
Well, I told you that you’ve just one chance to ask your user for his permission. This is actually true. If the user has denied the permission and changes his opinion afterwards, he has to go to a long and complicated way through the settings. Now it’s your turn.
If they request something where you need a permission they have denied before, you can ask them again. You can’t send them the permission request again, but you can send an own request and link to the right page in the settings. This saves users time (and nerves) to find this page by himself.
Don’t expect that your users understand the importance and value behind every permission request. Users don’t think about this and simply want to save their personal data. Think about two important questions:
- Do you want to ask your user up-front or in context?
- Do you have to educate your user about the value of his permission or is this clear?
Choose the right moment and the right educational level to ask them. Give them the feeling they can trust you and make sure that your users understand which value they get from giving you their permission.
Now go out and get those permissions!