Why & How Often Must You Update Your App?


App Builder Appy Pie, March 05, 2018: If you have a business, you probably already have an app, or are on the way to get one made. As an app developer or as a business owner who is using the app to spread the word about their company, it is important to understand the significance of mobile app updates. Updating mobile apps is essential to keep your users and maintain a sense that your business still exists and is doing well. This is probably the most basic of the reasons why you need to update your app.

The world is going mobile and your app is competing with millions of others, where quite a few simply increase the clutter while others would be your genuine competitors. Let’s delve a little deeper and figure out why must you update your mobile app.

1) Out of Sight, Out of Mind

One of the main reasons to update your mobile app at frequent intervals is to offer your customers or app users a reason to check in with your app. The moment you invite them to see what new things you have done in your app, you make a place for yourself in their fresh memories. For example, if you have an app for your hyperlocal business, do you think anyone would open your app, if you did not send out timely promotions, or alerts for special sales, or any other new and interesting information about your business.

Every time you update your mobile app, you have an opportunity to send out a very relevant and valuable push notification announcing the new developments. You can let your users know of the newly introduced features and the ways in which your app has enhanced the user friendliness of the app. What do you think would happen if someone were to download your app, and find it buggy, or discover that some of the buttons or features do not work, and some of the pages or information has not been updated for months altogether? They’re probably going to uninstall it immediately. Isn’t that what you would do too?

2) Out with The Old, In with The New!

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When you are managing a mobile app for your business, one of the most tedious tasks associated with it are changing the events, calendars, the news pages, or any outdated pages and features or buttons. As a business owner you would like to devote your time to stocking, restocking your shelves, making sales, fulfilling orders, making timely deliveries and more such things, who has time to make sure that the calendar for the upcoming events is working flawlessly or not! This is one more reason why you must keep your mobile app updated. While there are many tools that can help you sync the schedules on your mobile app with your Google Calendar events, where any modification on the Google calendar would be taken care of in the app and your app users will stay informed of the latest changes in the events. However, you cannot automate the actual pages and buttons within your app, and it is you who is responsible for making that change. This is exactly why, it is important to have a timed weekly or monthly mobile app update schedule that can help you check in with the app and figure out whether your users are getting the best user experience they deserve.

3) Establish & Showcase Your Success

Whether it is the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store, an app user can see the last time you updated your mobile app. Imagine your work website, what if it looked like it was from the 90s with outdated features, old time aesthetics, functionalities that were relevant only then, and use a vernacular that suited the era long gone. Would the visitors to your website take you or your website seriously? This is exactly what it is like in case of a mobile app. If the user looks at your app and feels that the design is old fashioned, and notices that it has not been undated in quite some time, it would appear to them that your company is stagnant. This image can’t possibly do you much good, as the users are left wondering whether the company is still in business or not, or whether they really are any good if they can’t maintain their own app. These doubts are probably not what you would want your mobile app to be associated with. Hence, it is important that you keep your mobile app updated.

4) Analyze, Re-evaluate, & Improvise

When you build an app with a quality DIY app builder like Appy Pie, you have access to relevant app analytics that can give you an idea about the impact it has on your business and how effective it is in bringing in new and repeat customers for you. Updating your mobile app can be tedious like we discussed earlier, and it is for this reason that sometimes you tend to be a little laid back about updating your mobile app. However, when you schedule a time for updates you have a chance to understand what it is that is working well in your app, and what is it that needs to be modified or improved to make the user experience better.

It can even help you formulate future strategies so that you can push more and more users in the direction of your sales page on the app. Updating your mobile app is almost like getting into a brainstorming session with other people in the organization to come up with new ideas based what they like or do not like about the app.

Why are the bugs never-ending?

If you have an app, the bugs have probably been “bugging” you, well since forever! The worst thing is, however, that these bugs often have nothing to do with your app itself! The bugs might come up because of changes in the operating system, or it might even be because of a change in software of the database that you may be pulling from.

It is for this reason that the initial updates for your mobile app to focus entirely on fixing these bugs and making sure that the app runs as smoothly as possible. It is only after a few months that you would have acquired substantial feedback, it is at this point that you should venture into focusing on deeper issues that related to user experience. The three, basic metrics you would have at your disposal at this point are:

  • The average time users are spending using your app
  • The features that your users seem to be in love with
  • The features that your users seem to be ignoring entirely

This data, when combined with the direct feedback that you get from the users in form of app reviews would give you a clearer idea and a crisp list of the more significant changes that you may make in order to make improvements in the user experience that your app offers. This should help you plan a bigger update that’d focus on these modifications.

After this update has been released, it is time you went back to fixing bugs and minor updates. It is this loop, (minor bug fixes, major update, minor bug fixes to obtain feedback for the major updates, and so on) that continues for the maintenance of your app till you want it.

How often must you update your mobile app?

Now that you know why you must update your mobile app, let’s take a closer look at how often must it be done?

There is no fixed answer to this, you can’t simply say 2 weeks, nor can you say 6 months are ideal for updates. It depends on a lot of factors. There are some updates that are planned well in advance like introduction of new features, promotions to celebrate certain app or business milestones, and staying compatible with the new or updated operating systems. However, there are others that need to be implemented quickly for example taking care of any unfortunate glitches, or in reacting to mini trends in the industry.

Appy Pie has made it easier for you by listing out specific benchmarks and strategies that may be used to plan your app updates.

#1 A Monthly Update

One month is that sweet time period that you can safely keep between the release of two updates for your mobile app. When you update your app on a monthly basis, it gives you a nice baseline that you may use in order to time your update.

This time period is an ideal balance that keeps you and your app relevant, while still keeping enough time gap between two releases ensuring that the customers are not annoyed by an app that sends out too many updates.

In the past, apps were a lot more cumbersome than today, and used a lot less frequently. Today, however, the apps are a lot more social, interactive, and assume a more integral role in your daily life. When you update your mobile app on a monthly basis, you are effectively making sure that your app is in tandem with the expectations of the market. An app that was great a year ago, might be outdated today! In fact, in some cases, an app with updated features a month ago might lose relevance today!

One of the most relevant example of this is the instant messaging app. The prior versions that allowed chatting and sending images was considered quite decent in those times. As some apps allowed sending GIFs, it slowly became the norm, and the apps that could not do this began to be considered outdated. Similarly voice & video calling, and voice notes came up as new features and assumed the status of a norm. These features were a lot more than mere fads as they genuinely helped the users have a better experience with the app.

#2 User Experience Enhancement Update

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When you base your update on the continuous improvement of your users’ experience within the app, it will keep your app relevant. Marketing can not replace the actual user experience of an app.

When a user encounters a haphazardly created app, they feel disconnected with the app and feel that the developers did not care to put in much effort into trying to solve a problem with their app that they built. These apps do not retain users, nor do they make any mark in the memories of the users, which means that there is no way to ensure optimal user experience, without a mobile app update. When you update your mobile app frequently, you keep your app relevant and updated, but also let your users know that you genuinely care about the experience they have with your app and are working to improve the experience.

When you are competing against a million other apps in coming up as the best app, updating your app frequently with thoughtful new features assures your users that you are perseveringly working to provide them exemplary experience. This will even make the app users look forward to the app updates and the chances of them migrating to other apps get really thin.

#3 User Feedback Based Update

Once you have launched your app and taken care of the initial bugs and minor issues, it is important that you encourage and acquire as many genuine feedbacks or reviews as possible. Go through all the reviews you receive and the reviews on competitor apps or apps related to yours. This can go a long way in helping you gauge the response to a potential new feature before its release. Doing this means that the features you decide to add would be the ones that have a high chance of being well received, instead of simply being a part of a mindless fad.

The user feedback on your own app, or on other similar apps can prove to be of great value that can help you especially before you decide to develop and launch a particular feature.

It is equally, if not more important to keep an eye on the negative feedback that you might receive from your users. These negative feedbacks, though give you an opportunity to make your app experience better but may even become featured on the app store! Hence, it is important to immediately fix these errors. An effective complaint resolution can go a long way in garnering positive reviews and even conversions. Not only does it make the complainant feel valued, but it also strengthens the image of your app among those who are reading the reviews.

Having an active community of users writing reviews and rating your app, can even help you take the decision when you are considering removing some of the features from your app. This can be done by setting up a poll and get them to vote for the features that they want to keep or remove.

#4 Milestone Updates

It can be a little difficult to find a clear timeline and decide when you want to release an update. One simple way to determine this is by celebrating the milestones in the journey of the app. The milestones could be your launch anniversary, a certain number of downloads, and many other such occasions where you can release an update and remind your users of your existence in their phones, while introducing new features and raising curiosity. These milestones are also a great opportunity to offer special discounts and new features for the users and include them in euphoric celebrations with you. When you choose to update only upon accomplishing or reaching a particular milestone, you are afforded some time for large-scale or major updates

#5 Keep Up with The Market Through Updates

The world of mobile apps is ever evolving and ever changing! The most important thing to do is to stay abreast with the latest market trends and demands. Whether or not you take the above-mentioned criteria into account, it is imperative that you time your updates to accommodate and evolve at the pace of the market. Be on the lookout for the latest trends and developments in the world of apps and the devices that you are building your app for. Looking for, and seizing opportunities is not a one-off incident nor is it a periodic occurrence, it is in fact a continuous process that needs to be in sync with the changes and developments in the market. You need to keep your eyes open to any new feature that gains even a semblance of popularity in your app niche, so that you can add it to your app as soon as possible and enhance the user experience of your app.

Concluding Note

When you fail to update your mobile app in a timely fashion, you can in fact invite disaster. An outdated app is bound to lose existing consumers and would definitely fail to gain any new customers. Hence, before you launch your app, make sure that you have a plan for app updates and the flexibility of incorporating them as and when needed, preferably from the dashboard. This can help you save time and money in a big way while helping you bring in new customers and retaining existing ones!

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