Intentional Subscriptions

Developer David Smith, writing on his blog about a better way for Apple to handle subscriptions:

There is a concept in user interface design called the Principle of Least Surprise, where you want to design systems in such a way that they surprise their users least. I think a similar concept applies to subscription pricing. The ideal (from a user friendliness perspective, not best business perspective) system for customer subscriptions should never surprise the customer with a charge. The customer should always be happy to see a charge appear on their credit card.

In other words, their subscription payments should always be Intentional.

Apple already offers guidelines for how developers must handle subscription activation pages, as some apps have historically employed misleading labels and buttons designed to maximize signups without putting cost and other key details front and center. Smith offers four suggestions which, if implemented, would go a very long way toward ensuring users are never surprised by a subscription charge.

Lately one of Apple’s favorite things to highlight during quarterly earnings reports is subscription growth, which falls under its Services line of business. It’s understandable why the company may not be inclined to make subscriptions easier to opt out of, but if enough users are negatively impacted by misleading subscriptions and customer satisfaction numbers take a hit as a result, perhaps we’ll start to see more change in this area. The recent updates to subscription guidelines give me hope that Apple has a pulse on the situation.