In App Notifications
Emily Yeung
Product Designer

In App Notifications


The Problem

One of THE ICONIC Tech team’s focuses is on what behaviours lead to highly valuable customers. By understanding these behaviours we are able to prioritise feature development that supports our customers' and strengthens their relationship with us.

After reviewing customers' behaviour THE ICONIC’s data team had discovered that subscribership in any form is important to growing a highly valuable customer base. 

However recent NPS surveys had uncovered that customers felt THE ICONIC was sending too many emails. Users weren't checking their emails often and felt annoyed when they missed back in stock or on sale email alerts. When they come to the website and realised an item they’d wish listed had sold out they felt frustrated.

The hypothesis was if we replaced behavioural emails with in App notifications and they performed better than email, then we could reduce the number of emails we sent to customers.

How might we provide relevant content to users at the right
place & time?

Project Background

Real time notifications

THE ICONIC’s team had noticed that there had been a high number of customers contacting customer service following up status of their returned parcels.

The Algorithm team had built a notification system called "Hermes" that was able to deliver personalised messaging to customers in real time. Once Australia Post had received a customer's return parcel, the system triggered an SMS and in App notification alerting the customer.

The release of the notification feature saw a significant decrease in parcel return enquiries.

Following the success of this experiment the team went on to explore how they could widen the application of this communication system.

Real time notifications experiment flow
Real time notifications experiment flow
Prioritisation workshop with the team
Prioritisation workshop with the team

What do we know?

To see how we could reach more customers with the Hermes communication system, I decided to kickoff with a "what do we know?" session. We identified the following:

About Customers

  • Regular users on THE ICONIC want to know what has changed since they last visited.

  • Customers want personalised updates on products or brands they were interested in, as well as the status of their orders.

  • The belief was, giving users personalised notifications within the website and apps would help to increase repeat usage of THE ICONIC in their daily lives.

About Hermes: 
  • It was a notification system that enabled THE ICONIC to contact customers at specific points throughout their journey.
  • It could be applied to multiple communication channels including: email, SMS, in app notifications and push notifications.

Cross device customer journey used to identify opportunities
Cross device customer journey used to identify opportunities
Typical desktop customer journey
Typical desktop customer journey

Identifying important notifications to show customers

Customer Journeys

Starting with the personas, I created three individual customer journeys. Each included a different entry point and different touch points across THE ICONIC to allow for as many variables as possible.


  • Identify the top 3 notifications that would provide the most value to customers. 

As a team we prioritised the different personalised messaging to customers using an impact and effort matrix, focusing on the following:

  • Items from your Wishlist new to sale
  • Items from your Wishlist back in stock
  • New arrivals from your followed brands

Sketches of initial user flows
Sketches of initial user flows


Given the multiple emails we were already sending to customers, the team agreed to focus on in app notifications first. This would also allow us to take advantage of Hermes’ ability to target users contextually as they were already in the app.

User Flows

Even though we were focusing on app first, I sketched out the user flows for all devices to ensure there would be a consistent cross device experience.

I presented my initial flows to the teams including a notifications hub (a place users could access all of their notifications) in the main navigation. The team raised that this was not technically achievable within the time frame. 

Initial notification design concepts
Initial notification design concepts

Internal Testing & Iterations

The notifications needed a home so that users could access them after they had disappeared. The only place we were able to create this was under the user profile.

I refined the flows to have the notification appear as though it had come from the profile to provide a clear indication to users that they could access their notifications here. 

Using a basic prototype I tested the flows internally to check for usability flaws. The main issues that arose were around:

  1. The notification design
  2. Where users expected to find the notification after it had disappeared. 

Feedback on the notification design:

  • The positioning of the notification didn't feel intuitive and a lot of people didn't see it properly. 
  • Some users wanted to be able to dismiss the notification but were then unable to find it at a later stage.

The notification designs for iOS
The notification designs for iOS

Design Considerations

The design was iterated, and tested with customers until it reached a point where we could ship an MVP version of the notifications.

  • The tile was slightly transparent so users didn't feel like it was blocking the navigation. 
  • The notification was no longer sitting on top of the profile, instead it slid down from the top of the app keeping the behaviour consistent with common notification patterns.
  • If a user didn't interact with the notification straight away the tile would disappear and a blue signifier would appear on top of the profile icon - to indicate that an action was yet been taken by the user. 
  • A pull down bar was added to the UI to encourage the user they could swipe the notification away if they didn't want to interact with it immediately. 

Next Steps

  • I would monitor the performance of the in App notifications and see if they have higher CTR % than the Wishlist emails. If the performance was positive I would rollout the MVP for the web experience, and if this also tested positively I would remove some of the behavioural emails entirely and replace them with these personalised notifications. 
  • With the increasing amount of communications THE ICONIC sends to customers, we don’t want to drive them away by being annoying. Customers need a place to opt in and out of these communications.
  • From a design perspective I would look at including previews of items in the notifications and grouping similar notification content together. 
  • In addition, bringing the notification functionality in other forms to the app’s feeds such as daily tiles would be a better way of reducing communications altogether.