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How to Design Better Push Notifications for Mobile Apps

Angela Stringfellow

Last updated on

The smartphone ecosystem has dramatically changed how users interact with brands and businesses. Businesses can have their own dedicated application in the hands of the consumer, serving as a portal through which users interact with the business. Applications also enable direct communication with users without the need to go through any intermediaries.

As long as the user has your mobile application installed on their phone, you’ll be able to reach them.

Push notification systems are a highly effective tool for reaching mobile users, but your app isn’t the only one that has the ability to send notifications to users. Every app installed on the user's smartphone also has the same ability, which means your messages have to compete with other applications’ notifications. Designing better push notifications is the key to unlocking stronger customer engagement and boosting customer retention.

Tips for Designing Better Push Notifications

Marketers and developers have to come together to create a comprehensive push notification strategy to reach users. Both marketing tactics and UI elements contribute towards better push notification design.

The following sections will give some pointers in that respect.

Be Concise

There is limited real estate for push notifications, and the amount of text that can fit into the notification preview will vary according to the operating system. It’s not a large number, making the notification’s copy very important, so try to convey the most information using the available real estate. At the same time, you also have to pique the user’s interest to make them click and open the notification.

Be Light-hearted

Being concise does not mean being uptight. The push notification has to deliver the most amount of information with the limited real-estate available, while also being playful. Use puns and jokes that quickly capture the attention of users. Emojis are also quite effective in conveying emotions with messages. Use all the literary tools in the right quantity to increase user engagement and, in turn, increase the click-through rate.

Brand Identity

Align the messages with the brand identity of the business. The push notifications shouldn’t seem out of character with your brand, and neither should the UI. Use brand colors, your brand logo, and clear, consistent typography in the push notifications to ensure a consistent voice in both the application and the push notification messages.

Responsive Design

Push notifications are displayed on a wide range of smartphones with different form factors. The screen size, pixel density, words displayed in a line, etc. will differ from device to device, and it’s the developer’s duty to ensure that all mobile devices can display the push notifications as designed. Testing with as many different devices as possible is also essential to ensure the notifications are displayed properly.


Not all users respond to the same message, and not every message sent by your app will be relevant to every user. It’s therefore important to ensure you only send relevant and actionable push notifications to the right users. This is possible with segmentation. The demographic and psychographic data about the user is used to create segments of customers with similar attributes. This helps you to create and send different messages suitable to the different segments, while also allowing you to personalize the messages with scripts to add the user’s name in the notification.


Another important factor to take into consideration is the timing of the messages. Sending push notifications at different times will result in different open rates, so it’s worth experimenting to discover the optimal time to send messages to users. You should also identify the best time for different user segments. You can then schedule push notifications to be sent at the time that is most beneficial for that segment.

Notification Inbox

In normal applications, once the notifications are clicked and viewed, there is no way to go back to the previous notifications. This can be avoided by incorporating a notification inbox with the application.

Fortunately, there are solutions such as MagicBell that can be quickly and easily integrated with your application. Such solutions also give the users more granular control over the notifications they receive, thereby making them more receptive to your messaging.

Prudent notification design can increase user collaboration and engagement within the app. You should take every step to design better push notifications that foster users to achieve the goal they are looking for with your app.

Related articles:

  1. What Are Push Notifications, and How Do They Work?
  2. Five Benefits of iOS Push Notifications