UX lessons from the Kardashian App

Ben Davies-Romano
21 min readMar 26, 2022

When you think back on some of the biggest apps from the past decades, there are a few that stand out. You’ve got your social networks, your travel apps, your viral games like Pokémon Go — but I think there’s an omission from this list. That’s right, I’m referring to Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

Released in 2014, the app still seems to be going strong, with regular updates, and on the Play Store, it’s currently sitting at over 1.1 million reviews with a 4.5-star rating. This is perhaps due in large part to the brand behind the app, but I think it’s unlikely an app could reach this number of reviews with such a strong star rating on the brand alone.

There have certainly been other celebrity and pop-culture based apps that have struggled to garner the same level of positive response from users. For example, Rupaul recently released a game app off the back of the pop culture behemoth that is Drag Race, and it has already gotten over 30k reviews on the Play Store, but it’s sitting at a 3.5-star average.

Back when it launched, the Hollywood-themed app boasted 22.8 million downloads by the end of its first-quarter alone, with more than 1.2 billion sessions and a staggering 5.7 billion minutes played. That works out to an average of just over 4 hours of game time per download, which is staggering. And in case you’re wondering, that equated to $43.4 million in this same period, not bad at all for a free-to-play (although arguably pay-to-win) game.

I’ve been an app product manager in the past, and these kinds of metrics are just mind-boggling, particularly the total amount of time spent in-app.

So I think it’s worth investigating how the app has been designed. How does it leverage gamification to encourage engagement? What’s there to learn from the app? And of course, throughout, we’ll need to consider the ethics behind how gamification is used.

And who knows, maybe at your next UX or product interview, you’ll bring up the Kardashian app as an example (and be taken seriously). Let’s dive in. ➡️

And side note: I am not the target audience for this app. I’m interested in what we can learn from a UX and product perspective, so my personal views on the Kardashians aren’t relevant but no, I do not keep up with the Kardashians.

First impressions in the App store

Ben Davies-Romano

UX, Product, Marketing and all spaces in between | UX Lead at Klarna | Co-founder of Tech Outcasts (www.techoutcasts.com) | ☕️ and 🏳️‍🌈

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