There’s no quicker way to alienate your user base than by neglecting app updates. For instance, Pokemon Go got off to an absolutely huge start in 2016, but just a year later, many of its once-faithful fan base had already dropped off the map, citing lack of communication regarding updates as the problem. If you want to keep your user base engaged and interested in what you have to offer, then it’s absolutely imperative that you give back to the community by offering regular app updates on a schedule, so your users can look forward to upcoming changes and new features – and stay assured that you’re listening to them and care about their feedback.
Users Want Updates
How do major apps keep their users coming back over and over again? From social media apps to popular smartphone games, they all have one trait in common, and that’s frequent updates.
For instance, Mike Beltzner, mobile product lead at Pinterest, says that their dev team puts out a new version every three weeks, and that he’s always pushing for shorter update lead times. Facebook puts out updates every four weeks, while Twitter updates every two weeks. Basically, the more often you can update your app, the better.
Remind Your Users That the App is There
A user’s first reaction to getting an “app updated” notification is to open that app. Users want to see what’s new, whether it’s minor text fixes, much-needed stability improvements, or a shiny new feature. The more you get users logging back in, the more likely they are to continue being repeat users.
Let Your Users Know They’re Being Heard
Regular updates also assure the user base that you’re listening to their concerns and addressing issues that need to be fixed. There’s nothing more frustrating than experiencing an app crash or a feature glitch, writing a review that details the issue, and then checking back weeks later to find that the issue was never addressed.
Not only should your updates be regular, but they should also be mindful. Take the time to note when a negative App Store review is the result of a bug, and task your dev team to fix it in a timely manner. Your users appreciate feeling like you hear them and value their input, and the overall user experience is better for it.
How Often Should You Update Your App?
So the next question is, how often is often enough?
The answer is, the more often, the better. In the early development stages of your app, it’s easiest to push frequent updates because there are plenty of changes to make. That may change with time, but don’t let your app get to a state where it feels “finished” and you’re unmotivated to keep pushing updates. An app is never truly finished; there’s always room for improvements!
Your app update schedule may vary depending on whether you’re working on feature updates or bug fix updates at the moment.
Implementing Feature Updates
Feature updates are the lifeblood of your app. Users love seeing brand-new features, and regular feature updates can breathe new life into a tired app.
Unfortunately, feature updates require a lot of lead time, and this can be an issue if you’re trying to keep your app updated on a timely schedule. Users don’t want to go two months between updates, even if the end feature update is a major improvement.
Make sure your users don’t feel forgotten by putting your app dev team on a schedule for releasing updates, generally no more than 2 weeks for development time so you have 2 weeks for testing and can release an update every month.
Try to prioritize features that demand smaller-scale production, since these are the features you’ll be able to keep on track even with a small team. Stretch out development of larger features over several development cycles, and push out smaller updates in between so it doesn’t feel like users are waiting forever with no updates.
Implementing Bug Fix Updates
Bug fixes can be just as important as feature updates, because bugs, errors, and glitches in your app become a quality-of-life issue for the user. Nobody wants to keep using an app that crashes without warning; or fails to save game progress.
Rather than being on a set schedule like other app update types, bug fix updates should be on an ASAP basis. Be constantly aware of what users are saying about your app, via the “Contact Us” form on your website, App Store reviews, social media, and word-of-mouth.
When you remain part of the conversation, you keep your user in the loop about what works and what doesn’t. Any time you learn about a new bug that affects quality of life, prioritize it with your dev team to get it fixed sooner, rather than later. There’s no need to wait for a scheduled app update in this case.
Implementing Minor App Improvement Updates
Minor app improvements don’t take a lot of development time, so it’s easy to slot those into a frequent schedule. Even minor updates every two weeks are better than major updates every two months. Minor updates can include changes like:
- Text updates
- Performance improvement
- Stability improvement
- Updated graphics
- Language support
- Minor sub-features (e.g. the ability to appear offline in a chat app)
While all of these changes may seem inconsequential on their own, they add up to an ever-changing landscape within your app. Your users appreciate these changes because it means that you’re in it for the long haul, and interested in maintaining a useful tool (or fun game) that competes well and performs all the functions your user base needs.
Don’t Wait for Major Updates
One thing’s for sure: don’t hoard updates and changes until you have enough of them to put together a major update. Minor updates are fine on their own, and a necessary part of app development. In fact, it’s best to keep major updates and minor updates on a separate schedule, rather than packaging them together. This means users aren’t waiting so long on time-critical bug fixes and quality of life improvements while you scramble to get the next big feature finished.
Use Enhance for SDK Updates
If you use SDKs in your app (and what developer doesn’t?) then you can use the Enhance tool to expedite updates whenever your SDKs are updated. For instance, if you use a push notification SDK to deliver reminders for your gaming app users to do their “dailies” in-game, and the SDK experiences stability problems, then your users may not get their updates in time.
When the SDK updates with a bug fix, it’s as simple as re-implementing the SDK using the Enhance injection method. You side-step hours of development time, and your users get the bug fix much more quickly. It takes just minutes to update your SDK and then submit an update to the App Store with notes describing the fix, and it helps maintain your reputation as a dev team that cares enough to get problems fixed quickly.
You can use this same update method when your SDK of choice releases stability improvements, performance enhancements, or any type of fix that you need to pass on to your own app.
Timely updates are just one way to maintain a happy user base, but they’re one of the most important. Enhance can help you with the minor SDK updates so your dev team can focus on the bigger changes and features. How do you put your users front-and-center when crafting updates?