In-app and push notifications are simple on the surface. But they require intricate logic and decision trees plus substantial engineering time to make them effective. A user’s status, device, preferences, time zone, permissions and more has to be accounted for.

These notifications need a place to live or they quickly become untenable. Enter the in-app notification center. Here’s how this tool enhances the SaaS experience and the best practices for creating your own.

What is a Notification Center?

A notification center is the inbox of a web app. It contains all notifications sent to a user such as messages, requested actions, warnings, updates, etc. Notification centers have two main components.

  • Inbox - A list of the notifications with appropriate text and icons. Users are able to delete, mark as read or perform relevant actions.
  • Settings - Most notification centers feature a list of toggle settings so users can customize their experience.

Learn more about the role of an in-app notification center.

A Notification center example

In-App Notification Center Benefits

The in-app notification is a compass for those navigating various SaaS tools throughout the day. A feature-rich, well-designed notification center offers several advantages.

Mass and consistent communication - As user count increases, the communication process can splinter. Notifications are missed, emails are left unread. The notification center delivers a uniform experience. This channel is consistent across the user base and is ideal for updates such as scheduled maintenance periods.

Productivity - Notification centers boost productivity. The inbox translates to to-dos and follow-ups. If users spend time tracking down missed notifications, it’s a costly misuse of time.

Familiarity - SaaS apps are concerned with onboarding time and usability. The notification center brings an element of cohesion across apps. People look for the bell or letter icon as they familiarize themselves with new tools.

Best Practices & Considerations

Settings

Notification center settings depend on the app. The most common include:

Push vs. Browser vs. In-App - Users select preferred channels for each notification type. Push notifications are sent to mobile devices. Browser notifications are sent through Chrome, Safari, etc. In-app notifications appear within the app’s interface.

Email frequency - In addition to notification method, users should have the option to customize email alerts. For instance, they might request an email for direct messages, but no email for product updates.

Digest - Apps with many notifications use a digest feature. This is an email with notifications throughout a day or week. This feature can be toggled on or off and customized based on the user’s role.

Do Not Disturb - Notification center settings often include do not disturb options such as do not disturb hours, vacation settings or one-time use.

Features

Notification center options facilitate personalization. Notification center features make it easier to get work done. These are some of the must have features:

Bulk actions - Nothing is worse than having to go through a long list of notifications just to click “read” or “delete.” This is time consuming and terrible for UX. Notification hubs should have “mark all as read” or a way to select multiple notifications at once for an action.

Maintenance - Notification centers can be overwhelming. Product use will go down if users aren’t able to quickly identify important messages. They need maintenance features such as automatically expiring messages or suggested actions.  

Actions - Another way to improve organization and workflow is built-in actions. This could be the option to reply to a message, add an event to a calendar or set a reminder based on a notification.

UI and UX Design

Settings and features are important but without good design they won’t be used effectively. These are the crucial design elements for every notification center:  

Content design - UX writing/content design is a growing industry because clear and concise language matters, especially in places such as a notification center. The copy should eliminate ambiguity.

Anchor icon - This icon represents the notification center’s location. A bell or letter icon is often used.

Timestamp - All notifications should have detailed timestamps with the date and time of day.

Hover effects - Customers will learn the product faster if elements change as they hover within the interface.

Read/unread status - It should be clear when a message is unread vs. read. Additionally, the option to move a notification back to unread is helpful.

Action buttons - As mentioned, improve productivity by including the option to perform actions within the notification center.

Time to Build an In-app Notification Center?

As you can see, creating a notification center requires time, deliberation and extensive engineering costs. There’s also the ongoing maintenance required and reconfiguring as product updates are built.

Notifire is designed to take this monster project off your plate. With a single line of code (SDK) you can add a well-crafted notification center to your app - complete with must-have features, settings, templates and analytics.  

Visit our site and request an invitation to our closed Beta today.