Paywall Teardown: Curio

What works and what doesn't in Curio's paywall

Welcome to the first ever Paywall Teardown! In this series, we’ll dive into the paywall design of different apps try to find out what’s good and what can be better, with the hope that you can apply some of our learnings into your app’s paywall.

Today we’re going to look into Curio, an audio library where you can listen to high-quality journalism content narrated by professional voice actors.

While you can browse the app without subscribing, Curio doesn’t offer free content. So the only way for you to listen to the content is to subscribe. With that in mind, here’s the paywall.

Curio's Paywall


If you haven’t noticed, it’s /really/ hard to ignore a *“Get 40% Off*” offer when it’s right in your face, and the screen is not scrollable. While this is a strong hook that can increase a user’s purchase intent, Curio might be leaving some conversions on the table.


While it says the app is 40% off, there’s no indication on /why/ the app is on sale and until /when/ the discount would be over. When I got here, my first reaction was not only that “I have time, I can just buy later,” but also that the discount itself feels arbitrary. There’s a lack of urgency.


There are several potential ways Curio can experiment in regards to elevating the sense of urgency:


PRO TIP: when creating your paywall, ask yourself “How can I increase the sense of urgency on this screen?”


Another thing that Curio is missing on the paywall is its value proposition.


"Make it easy for users to sign-up" is a piece of common advice in mobile app marketing—the option to Sign In With Apple definitely helps. However, the low barrier to signing up might also lead to users being less aware of the app's value prop even after signing up. 


The paywall screen is a great space to tell the user why they should try out the paid version again. "Expand your mind" might be a catchy tagline, but it doesn't really add value for users who are still figuring out if the app is worth subscribing to.

An app with a large amount of content like Curio is missing out by not putting this content on their paywall. Although interestingly, they do have this on the "Good Morning" tab.



Putting good looking numbers on your paywall is not the only way to hook these users. This is highly contextual to the app, but in the case of Curio, they can also do some "name dropping":



PRO TIP: Ask yourself: "What data or facts can I leverage to show users how good the app is?"


One small thing I really like is this switching animation between subscription tiers.



If your app has multiple subscription plans and not all of them have free trials, you need to design it so that users won't get mixed up on which plans have it. A bad design here can lead to user frustration, as in their mind, they might think the app is unfairly charging them money. ("Why am I being charged?! I subscribed to a free trial?!") — this could lead to confused customers or worse, angry reviews.


The switching animation and changing CTA is clever design to ensure that users can easily distinguish which tier has a free 7-day trial.


PRO TIP: If you ever received an email from your customer saying, "I thought I subscribed to a free trial," check your paywall to see if you're making it clear enough for them.


That’s all for this week’s Paywall Teardown! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to reach out to us :)