A product analysis of theSkimm’s new app

Don’t get me wrong — I love theSkimm. I have been hooked ever since a friend introduced it to me a year ago. As a millennial woman, their daily news summary really speaks to me. As a UX designer, I applaud them. The delivery is spot on and so simple that it’s got all my product friends kicking themselves. When has a newsletter garnered this much attention?

So when I heard they were coming out with an app, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Surely I don’t need another news app on my phone. It has to be something more. But what?

When April 19th rolled around, I literally downloaded Skimm Ahead as soon as I woke up just out of curiosity. And I have to say… I was sadly disappointed.

Here’s why:

Why are you selling to me?

Onboarding is quite the hot topic in UX. Onboarding screens! No, help marks are the way! No! You shouldn’t need help if the product is designed right!… Okay, you get the point. But one thing is for sure—there shouldn’t be 7 onboarding screens selling your app to me! Onboarding screens are for telling me how to use the app, not sell me your product. You already ‘acquired’ me when I downloaded the app. Now prove to me why I shouldn’t delete it by actually letting me use it.

Everything I see before getting to the actual app.

Let’s take a deeper dive into these launch screens, shall we?

This. This seems a bit desperate. Don’t tell me it is worth it. Show me your app is worth it.


Okay cool, but why is this an app? Why not just include an extension in your email for me to download and sync to my calendar?


Again with the desperate selling. Save this for your landing page, not your first time app experience.


I am sure your moms are great and all. But no offense, I don’t know them / I don’t trust them. Moms have a way of rooting for their own children.


And finally, this. When I got to this screen, I was like “But what am I paying for??? To know when Adele tickets go on sale? Um, Google?”.


At this point I deleted the app. Even with all this selling, I was still not sold. However, after seeing so much press on Tuesday, I re-downloaded just to see what the hype was about because I sure did not get it from these launch screens.

And this leads me to my biggest issue…

Where is the value?

While I am sure this app solves some people’s problem, it’s a very small problem to solve. Everything on Skimm Ahead is pretty common knowledge or just a quick search away on Google. Certainly not worth $3 a month. Living in NYC, the season premiere of Game of Thrones is posted on nearly every bus stop and subway wall that I have the date memorized by heart. I hear about primary dates in yours as well as every other news source I follow. And thank you, but Memorial Day is already on my Apple calendar.

The thing is, if something is important to me I will know all I need to know about it. I don’t need a calendar for it. Also, what one person thinks is important and what I think is important differs drastically. So the problem here is that this app is too high-level. If you want to bring more value to it, then personalize it to my taste, not yours.

Lastly, why do I have to pay for this product when you are using it to promote other products to me. Not cool.

I still love you, theSkimm. And I will continue to read your newsletter everyday. But if you want me to be a paying subscriber (as I am sure that is exactly the pressure you are getting from investors) then you have to work harder at bringing more value to your app product. The way it is now, I predict retention is going to tank after this first month.

You gals are smart, though, so I am sure you have a solid product roadmap full of features to come. I look forward to it.