Maintaining is caring

why you can’t just let your app be

Why, hello there again — came here to continue our story? If so, we hope you had a nice trip, Jack! And if you are new here — take a look at our previous posts. I’m sure you’ll find them interesting.

Anyway, last time you bought your perfect car. You are probably still enjoying your honeymoon with it, to the point where your poor wife forced you out of the bed (no couch this time!), saying that if you prefer the car over her, you may as well sleep in the garage. So here you are, napping in the back seat, thinking about life, death and changing the windshield washer fluid, hoping that your little miracle will always look brand new. You already started having nightmares where a sudden accident happens and your car is left with cracked headlights and scratched spoilers. What can I do, you may say, it is impossible to predict everything. I bought a car to drive it, not to be paranoid over it. And you aren’t wrong — you don’t need to worry, you just need to take care of it.

The last thing you want is to waste money and effort you put into getting your application by neglecting its maintenance. It is almost as important as the process of developing itself. You want to benefit from your app, not just look at how pretty it is. Even the most beautiful cars are made to be driven, aren’t they? But you can’t benefit without solid services, continuous amendments and updates based on your client’s experiences.

Can’t I be perfect from the beginning?

Those who bump into the topic for the very first time may be surprised. Can’t we just design everything in a way that it doesn’t require any fixes? C’mon, let’s be perfectionists! It can’t be that difficult!

Well, even if you minimize the possibility of any errors on the developer’s side, the external bugs can still happen out of nowhere. Also, the technology changes all the time, so you need your product to keep up with those modernizations. Speaking from experience — all attempts to create a flawless app failed miserably.

Some people don’t want to pay the costs of any maintenance. Hearing that they will have to pay about twenty percent of the original development’s price for taking care of the already made product sounds abstract to them. Nevertheless, they have to understand that maintaining an app is not about sitting and watching the grass grow. It is the continuous control, checking, trying, changing, receiving feedback and reacting to it. Most of the time trying to avoid costs of the maintenance ends up producing an even higher outlay. It is because you are investing so much in trying to create a flawless product that stays ahead of all the updates, but it still turns out that you need to take care of it anyway. Don’t follow that path, you will avoid many disappointments and frustrations, as well as unnecessary losses of money.

Users know best

The customer is always right. You may roll your eyes now, but it is true — especially in this case. It is your clients who use the app, so they are the most valuable source of information about what works well and what does not. It doesn’t matter how much you are trying to prepare yourself — after the flood of feedback you will probably be forced to provide some changes, whether you like it or not. The users are the measure of the application’s success, so wise developers listen to their voice. Their comments may be positive or negative — it makes no difference. What really matters is the fact that now you know which functions are useful and need to be extended.

You may be surprised but according to statistics, 45% of an average application features stay untouched by the user, and the next 19% are used very rarely.

App stores love updates

If your application is not being updated, it will not be supported by the app stores. What’s more, App Store gets rid of the apps that haven’t been updated for a long time. Sounds ruthless, but those who do not prosper are sentenced to failure.

But it is not only the stores that aren’t pleased with forgotten products. Also, the users seem to be very disappointed if they find what seems to be an abandoned app. What’s more — they are vocal about it. They will point out the lack of support for certain platforms or any other troubles they meet while trying to use the app. Users are the toughest critics — but also the most reliable ones. Bad reviews and ratings left on app stores are definitely not something you are heading towards.

Too much happiness

When your application’s popularity rates are high you are also high with excitement. Your dreams came true, people are downloading, using, sharing, reviewing and talking about your child. But were you ready for the Christmas Day to come so early?

At Iteo, we had a situation like that once. Split, an app we made for an American client, was an overwhelming success. For a few days, it was on top of the ranking of the most popular lifestyle applications in the USA. It overran Tinder. The server couldn’t handle the pressure and blacked out. Literally.

Learn from our experience — be ready for both success and failure. Monitor your servers and be sure to have someone who can respond to its malfunctions. Also, be sure to have backups of source code and database.

Every year brings updates of Android and iOS versions. The application must be updated according to the newest updates. What you also have to remember is that some technologies support one another — when adding anything new, be sure to use the technologies that support not only the functions you are trying to create, but also the ones you already have in your app.

Never-ending story

Statistics show that almost 30% of all development agencies update their products at least once a month. Over half of the companies asked provide changes at least once every six months. And only below 2% of them do it less than once a year.

It is a norm in the industry to incorporate a maintenance charge into the contract. The company is obliged to fix any problems, that is the basis of loyalty. Good developers plan the maintenance process way ahead — using the visions of changes that they were able to predict in advance and ideas on how to deal with sudden problems.

The truth is that if you treat your application as a product created to respond to its users’ individual needs, the maintenance process will never end. This way it will only get better and better.

So get out of the garage, buy your wife a huge bouquet of roses and take her out for a dinner. No need to worry about your car. You are safe and sound — whatever happens, we got you covered!

human-centric software design & development. check out our website: www.iteo.com