Message Center

The message center is a central part of Apptentive's services. It's the most complete embodiment of Apptentive's vision to open a line of communication between developers and app users. It is integrated inside customers' apps, which are installed on millions of phones worldwide, and is used to deliver huge numbers of messages daily.

Because Message Center is such a pivotal part of Apptentive's offerings, it had to be right.

New Guiding Principles

To get a sense of where exactly the old message center was falling short we poured through internal metrics on real-world use, conducted user interviews in-person and over hangouts, and built a dozen prototypes for user testing. Here are a few things we learned:

1.Set the right expectations (and kill the chat bubbles)

We discovered that people expect a response to an IM conversation within a few seconds. Change bubble visuals to email-style blocks and expectations jump into the hours. This change in expectation gives our customers the breathing room they wanted.

2.Make it personal

With a friendly face to greet them people connect more emotionally with the app (Bonus: users may also be more honest and cooperative).

3.Don't get in peoples' way

We never want to block people's ability to leave feedback, but we still needed to ask for their name and email. We solve this by asking for the name and email only after they have left feedback.

4.Encourage people to speak up

Longer, detailed feedback is more useful to our customers for making decisions. After testing, we saw that people naturally write more when given a big blank space to write than the traditional expanding single-line input which is common in many existing chat-based feedback or customer support services.

The Solution

Message Center on Android

Profile Collection

Profile Collection

Some of our customers require profile information on the people they help. User testing showed that app users were sometimes so reluctant to leave this personal information, that asking for it at the wrong time could profoundly effect completion rates. We used to require it before people could send their feedback.

Two of our guiding principles are getting out of peoples' way and letting people speak. Now, the profile collection card now comes up only after the first message is sent and users have invested energy in explaining their problem.

Message Center: Blue and White Message Center: Green Message Center: Grey Message Center: White and Red

Customizable Styles

In the prior version of message center — on both iOS and Android — we heard that our service wasn't meeting some customers' requirements. The word "ugly" came up. On top of cleaning up the aesthetics and aligning them closer with the OS, we placed an emphasis on looking good and fitting in with the parent app.

We picked a few potential customers, and used their brand decisions as validation while deciding which elements to open up for customization.

iOS, too!

Every element in the Android SDK is also present on the iOS SDK. Feature parity across platforms is complete, so managing them is as simple as possible.


  • Increased adoption within existing customers.
  • Positive feedback & attention from prospective customers.
  • Updated design and code leading to faster development and iteration.
  • Design is serving as a foundation for future projects.