The art of interruption: How strategic notification design can enhance user experience and boost engagement


2 min read

Words by Wonderful Digital

Like ‘em or loathe ‘em, push notifications are a part of our daily lives that ping, ding and pop on our home screens and in-app functions throughout the day. Yes, they’re a staple marketing tool from a brand and sales perspective, however from a user’s viewpoint they can be seen as either a handy ‘heads up’ or a pain in the butt, depending on what they are pushing and when.

As a key element of UX design, push notifications need to have a well devised strategy behind them. Identifying your user, knowing how to get their attention and choosing the right time to push is an integral part of that strategy. 

Your notifications don’t want to come across as too ‘pushy’ or feel like an irritating interruption. They need to remain on point in terms of relevance and timing. Push notifications can feel generic by design, so it’s important to put customisation front and center by addressing the user by name or segmenting them by user and audience group or types.

Whether the notification is promoting a special offer, limited time sale, breaking news or product launch, the desirable outcome is to inspire the user to act. In the Push Notification world, ‘Call to Action’ is King, so always push with purpose, otherwise it’s seen as just another form of spam.

Notifications are limited to character counts, so the copy that drives your notification needs to be concise, attention grabbing and ultimately inspire the user to act – so get to the point in as few words as possible. Nobody likes being taken hostage so ensure your notifications offer the user the choice to Opt In and Opt Out.

Testing notifications before unleashing them into the wild is fundamental in getting them right. 

Create a testing phase strategy that highlights the strengths and weaknesses of your approach and unearths new insights. Once finely tuned, look at creating variations of the notification so that the user is taken on a journey rather than receiving notifications that feel repetitive. Here are a few key points to consider when creating a notifications strategy.

Know thy user

Identify who you are marketing to and customise the notification to user groups so your efforts are well targeted.

Time the push

In the same way we time eDM send outs, think about what time of day is the most effective to push your notification, so it inspires rather than irritates.

Map it out

Create a user journey that can guide you through the implementation of your notification.

Don’t just fire away, instead ensure your notification is led by strategy.

Define your CTA

Without a Call to Action a Push is more like a lame ‘nudge’. Identify the desired response you want from your user and make the CTA clear and easy to do.

Don't ‘over-push’

Choose the number of notifications you send out carefully. Oversaturation will simply be seen as spam and a user will likely Opt Out before long.

Your push notification is only as good as the user experience it’s designed for. Measure the results of your most recent push notifications and make the necessary adjustments to ensure they are having maximum impact. 

Placing yourself in the shoes of the user will ensure your Push errs on the side of useful rather than down right annoying.