December 4, 2017

inFullUX: How we ask user for permissions

Jakub Ziembiński

We’ve all been there. You just found some new cool game that is going to make your way home less unbearable. You run it and…

Cool Game Would Like to Use Your Location popup says.
“Well, okay, but why?”
Cool Game needs your location right in the subtitle.
“Alright, that explains a lot. But fine — I’ll give it a shot” you think and hit Allow.
Cool Game Would Like to Access Your Photos.
“What? It’s a game! Why would you want that?!”.

That’s about the point when you get annoyed enough to go back to Home Screen and delete the app. Lots of people do.

Tell me everything

First interaction with the app is extremely important. Display multiple pop-ups asking for different permissions to users sensitive data without proper explanation and you might find your user among the 23% of people who deleted the app just after first use. To prevent that from happening I listed some simple guidelines which you should always follow.

Introduce before asking

Bombarding the user with multiple popups is never a good idea. Especially immediately after the first launch. That makes the app seem intrusive. Users want to feel their privacy is respected and one way of doing so is creating a reliable and honest onboarding process.

Image credits: SCOUTS

Clearly educating why the app needs certain permissions builds trust. Users should understand that if they want to use a certain feature they need to provide certain data.

Ask in process

Another way is asking for a permission in a context. It’s in most cases more effective, because onboarding caries one significant risk. Users need to make a decision up-front and even with a proper education they might not be sure if they want to use the feature requiring a permission.

Image credits: inFullMobile

On the other hand asking for granting the app a gallery access during the process of sharing a photo eliminates that risk because user already made the decision. They want to send the picture and in order to do so, they know they must press Allow. Plain and simple.

Handle denied permission

But what if the user doesn’t agree? Well, they must face the consequences 😉 No, really. If user denied a permission that is critical to the app, there should be a clear explanation why the permission is necessary. You can always provide a button transferring to settings where user can re-allow it, but it might be risky on iOS as there are no official guidelines and the app can be rejected by Apple during the process of publishing the app to the AppStore. Also don’t try to overcome the denied permission — it was a user’s conscious decision and he has to live with that. It is still a good option to remind users that they can always change their mind although iOS app can ask for a certain permission only once and digging through settings is very poor UX. It’s a long, unintuitive process and there is no way to guide user through it.


Permissions might be tricky but when handled with caution they might build reliance and trust. Just remember — ask nicely and you shall receive!

Jakub Ziembiński is a iOS developer at inFullMobile, an international digital product design and development studio based in Warsaw, Poland.

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inFullUX: How we ask user for permissions was originally published in inFullMobile Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Written by
Jakub Ziembiński

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