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An Addictive App That Lets You Rate Anything In Seconds

Polar is like Instagram crossed with "Hot or Not." And it’s an object lesson in mobile design done very, very right.

Quick, which is better: Lucas or Spielberg? Star Wars or Star Trek? Kobe or LeBron? Internet Explorer or Chrome? You probably have an opinion on each of these questions that’s strongly held enough to make a choice in seconds. And there’s something undeniably fun and satisfying about making dopey this-or-that snap judgments. Designer Luke Wroblewski has built an entire app around this vacuous-yet-addictive experience called Polar. But before you write it off as the dumbest thing since Snapchat, know this: Polar is a work of mobile-design genius.

This should come as no surprise if you know Wroblewski’s pedigree. The man literally wrote the book on "mobile first" design thinking, which is now established wisdom for anyone seeking to create the next hot digital whatever. And yet after five years of iPhones and Androids, very few mobile experiences feel truly effective. And when one comes along that actually is—well, you saw how much that was worth to Mark Zuckerberg.

"Everyone’s still in the laptop mindset—even [companies] that really have their shit together," Wroblewski tells Co.Design. "We’ve done testing about how people actually use their phones, and we said, 'Let’s design the product entirely around that.'"

Wroblewski calls these native experiences "micro mobile interactions," and you can see them in action in the demo video embedded at the top of this post. The key word is "micro": a quick glance here, a flick or tap there, and done. The more of these interactions you can fit into your user experience, and the more seamlessly and delightfully you can serve them up, the more engagement you’ll build. Even if your app does nothing but ask whether kittens are cuter than babies.

Polar is Wroblewski’s object lesson in the power of micro mobile interactions. He’s literally taken an activity that is either pointless (seriously, kittens or babies?) or downright annoying (when was the last time you actually filled out a customer service questionnaire?) and transformed it into something that you want to do—and keep doing. When you’re standing in line, bored, and want to kill 10 seconds on your phone, what do you do? Fire up Instagram—or Polar, after you’ve tried it once. It’s that good.

"We chose to do a consumer thing, a fun thing, to put our ideas into action," Wroblewski says. "So far we’ve gotten great results. People can get in, get out, and get value instantly. We’re starting to rethink polls. But once you understand this medium, you can start to rethink everything." I agree. By the way, which is better: gestural UIs or buttons? Don’t worry, this’ll only take a second.

[Read more about Polar]

[Image: Arrows via Shutterstock]

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  • Phil_Adel

    With the proliferation of “social decision making” apps arriving in the market over the past 6 months, it’s going to be an interesting marathon across the players in the space: Thumb, Polar, Choozum, SeeSaw, Deci—the list goes on and on. With Thumb being the clear leader at present with a user base of more than 1 million active users, there’s still 20-30 million people that match early adoption demographics of this type of service (obviously the longer term opportunity is much wider). An interesting article I read this week was written about Choozum, who claims to own the trademark for term, “Social Decision Making”. Not quite sure how the USPTO let that one through, but in any event it’s interesting to see a term like that sort of define this new segment of polling one’s community to acquire votes to make a more informed decision on ‘stuff’.

  • Patel Ketan

    See I found this most superior of all out there.  Now they are coming up with Android and iPhone app too. Here you get opinions instantly on a single image, comparision between 2 images, and you can also post news to get it rated!   

  • DS Wadeson

    Let's just hope it comes to Android soon.  Why of why is that so often over-looked? 

  • Jesse Wilson, MCM, CPM, ACPM

     iOS users spend more money, install more apps, and are more engaged after install.

  • Christa Joe

    Hope for the best Danny, if it's available for any other mobile OS then it will definitely be available for Android soon. None of the app is there in market that is left untouched with the essence of Android.

  • Christa Joe

    Looks like everything and anything can be uploaded for a poll and frequent results can be extracted in order to analyze the success of any product or service.