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Mozilla: Push Notifications Survey Results

 I sent out a quick survey to get a general idea of how people both use and feel about notifications. This includes methods from mobile push notifications to Growl style desktop notifications, notifications triggered by content, and perhaps system notifications as well.  Knowing separately how developers implement and end users consume notifications is also important, but we can consider how to gather user-type specific patterns in another survey, personal interviews, or by observing use.


42 people responded to the survey and a majority also left additional thoughts at the end of the form. I was pleasantly surprised at the effort put into the additional thoughts as it allowed this general form to give us even more information than intended.

Here are some points you might find useful, but click through the images to see for yourself:  

  • Receiving a notification for interactions with personal accounts or the user’s own content was most favorable. 78.6% of survey takers like notification for replies, comments, or shares from sites like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and 57.1% for Twitter follows or Facebook friend requests. Calendar events were also noted several times in the “other” field. (see image)
  • Most users want to be notified immediately when content becomes available. (see image) However, some noted that while they would like immediate notification for direct and personal communication, for non-personal or non-time sensitive notifications they would prefer it to be occasional.
  • 50% of people want notifications on both mobile and desktop. A combined 40% noted a preference for either desktop or mobile. This is an incentive to focus on improvements for multi-device/platform notifications.

The many thoughts provided in the open field at the end of the survey were especially helpful. I could post 20+ but here are a few from recipients, content creators, and developers:
“As little battery drain as possible on mobile devices. “

“When pushing notifications to multiple devices, it bugs me when clearing the notification on one doesn’t cross all devices.”

“This would be really useful for development-related things where I want to be notified while I’m around doing development because it helps the team keep in sync. Currently we use IRC for this, but IRC clients aren’t very useful on mobile devices and it might be nice to keep in sync without having to be on IRC where I’m pesterable.”

“Like most people I am addicted to them so its a love hate relationship. Would be nice to be able to very easily turn them off if I wanted to escape for a while”

“They should be contextual to time/location. Or, in other words, adherent to which ‘mode’ I’m in: working, relaxing, hanging with friends, etc.”

“I love them because, they keep me on track of my activity being it personal or professional.”

“As an author of several web services, it would be nice to have a better format than email for sending such things.”


In general, it seems as though notifications discussions trigger a very personal response. Not surprising, transparent intentions from content sources, ability to manage output, and the need to be in control, is the overall tone of the feedback. Users love notifications when appropriate, helpful, and not intrusive of personal time and space.

Thanks so much to those who took the time to complete the survey and write an additional response about their personal uses and ideas to make being notified a better experience. We really appreciate it!

The survey is still up. Take it yourself, here.

Firefox Notifications is a project I have been working on with @jeffbalough at Mozilla.