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10 Feature Launch Roadblocks Your Development Team Must Overcome

Launching a new feature can be incredibly exciting. It means an opportunity to enhance the UX and create a new and improved version of your product.

But at the same time, it can be stressful, given all of the unknowns and the potential for setbacks. Whether it’s just a minor update or a massive overhaul, you want to get it right the first time and avoid unnecessary complications.

Here are 10 of the most common feature launch roadblocks your development team must overcome and suggestions for doing so.

1. Knowing Which Changes are Worth Making

Perhaps the first quandary is simply knowing which elements of your product to pursue. In other words, does a proposed new feature really make sense in the long run? Or is it more trouble than it’s worth?

The UserVoice team provides some excellent criteria to help you determine if launching a new feature is wise. According to them, what you want is:

  • Increased engagement and/or revenue from current users
  • New user growth
  • Reduced churn to competitor products
  • Improved brand perception and loyalty
  • Fewer issues for users and support

What you don’t want is:

  • Decreased user engagement or revenue
  • User backlash over removed features
  • Negative publicity
  • To be forced to make a public apology
  • To be forced to go back to the drawing board

As long as the potential positives of a proposed new feature will far outweigh the risk for negatives, you should be able to justify it and it’s worth pursuing. Otherwise, you may want to explore other avenues.

2. Lacking Efficient Internal Communication

The more team members you have, the greater the chance for confusion and misunderstandings arising. When developers aren’t on the same page with one another, it can result in errors, glitches and costly delays.

One of your main objectives is developing a viable framework where your team can work in harmony with one another. Workflows are an excellent solution and allow you to improve collaboration through role assignment, approval mechanisms, and advanced access controls.

This ensures that every person understands what their task is at any given time as well as what their deadlines are. It also makes it so that a team and/or app admin is able to formally approve every change that’s made to your product.

And rather than corresponding through different mediums such as email, messengers, etc., team members can stay in sync from a single platform. This means much less back-and-forth and a much greater focus on project completion.

3. Difficulty Coordinating Experiments Across Different Platforms

The Radicati Group projects that the number of mobile devices in use globally will be over 12.1 billion by the end of 2018. When releasing a new feature, it’s critical that it functions just the same on an Android device as it does for an iOS device or a web app. There needs to be homogeneity.  

Of course, accomplishing this usually requires a significant amount of experimentation across different platforms, which is often easier said than done.

One solution is to utilize feature orchestration where you export the entire logic driving the feature into a single dashboard. In turn, you’re able to perform iterations and experimentations on the new feature across all platforms with relative ease. This reduces much of the friction involved with the process and makes for a more uniform UX regardless of the platform.  

4. Trouble Segmenting Users

Users can vary widely in terms of characteristics like age, location, wallet size and so on. As a result, segmentation is often necessary to personalize the UX. But developers can run into trouble without an effective means to segment users.

Another aspect of feature orchestration that can aid in this process is having the ability to define and create complex user segments that are built around specific groups of users. This way, you can design and launch new features in a way that appeases the largest possible percentage of users, while making the process more convenient for your dev team.

5. Making Changes Without Having to Re-release

Seldom is launching a new feature a one-off activity. Rather, it requires repeated tinkering and fine-tuning before it’s just right. As new data from experimentation is made available, your development team will need to make the necessary adjustments.

That’s all well and good, but having to re-release your product every time you make a small change can quickly become onerous. Fortunately, another element of feature orchestration is iterations where you can effortlessly experiment and make changes to a new feature without having to deal with multiple releases.

This is a tremendous time saver and allows your development team to work out the kinks without unnecessary difficulty.

6. Security Concerns

According to the 2015 Trustwave Global Security Report, the median number of vulnerabilities in applications is 20. Therefore, security is a major concern for your development team and something to take seriously.

Lacking diligence in this area is just begging for trouble. In best case scenarios, this could adversely impact the UX of your product. In worst case scenarios, it could compromise user data and hurt your brand reputation.

After all, people are more concerned with data security than ever. They’ll likely turn to a competitor if they feel your security standards aren’t up to par.   

As for solutions, you have two main options. One is to have vulnerability scans performed prior to releasing a new feature. This will enable you to identify weaknesses, glitches or misconfigurations that could potentially jeopardize security.

The other is to have formal security testing done by crowd testers. This method involves having registered ethical hackers attempt to find issues before real hackers are able to exploit them.

7. Successfully Measuring Results

It’s critical that your development team measures the impact of each change every step of the way. This ensures you’re addressing the needs of your users and fixing any glitches before the actual launch.

But how do you do this efficiently and without it becoming an unnecessary burden on your development team?

Feature orchestration also has the capacity to measure the impact of every change deployed to the feature at runtime, with minimal effort on your dev team’s end. On top of that, it automatically imports data from multiple analytics platforms and integrates it seamlessly into existing dashboards.

This way you can effectively measure results and fine-tune the product accordingly.

8. Obtaining Quality Feedback

Unbiased feedback is everything. The success (or failure) of a new feature hinges upon your team’s ability to obtain quality feedback from individuals who represent real-life users. Otherwise, it could miss its mark.

So what’s the most efficient way to obtain this feedback? Some companies go the in-house route where testing is done in a traditional lab-based setting. But this has its shortfalls, as it’s costly, offers only a limited tester pool and can often result in biased feedback.

That’s why many companies are now opting for crowd testing, which is considerably less costly and provides access to a larger and often international tester pool. Most importantly, they receive feedback from people who truly represent their user demographic.

9. Educating Users

Change is hard—even positive change. After users have grown accustomed to a product functioning a certain way, many will be resistant to a new feature. They may not fully understand it, know how to use it and may be unhappy if it disrupts other existing features.

Another major task of your development team is to educate users on the specifics of a new feature and how to properly use it. Many teams find that in-app tours and tutorials are the best way to go about this.

10. Announcing a New Feature

Finally, there’s the matter of getting the word out and letting current users, as well as potential users, know about a new feature. While this may sound easy on paper, there are a lot of different factors to take into consideration, namely which channels are most conducive to streamlined communication.

There is no be-all-end-all strategy for announcing a new feature, but there are a few particular channels that tend to work well. Some options include:

  • Emailing subscribers
  • Writing a blog post
  • Creating a press release
  • Announcing it on social media
  • Notifying an influencer who will share the news with their audience

Overcoming a Gauntlet of Obstacles

Seldom do users understand all of the hard work that goes into launching a new feature. To them, it’s simply a nice addition that makes their lives just a bit easier.

But dev teams know how big an ordeal it can be. With a gauntlet of obstacles in the way, building and launching a new feature is no easy feat and not for the faint of heart.

By acknowledging common roadblocks ahead of time, you’ll be better positioned to overcome them and get a new feature up and running with minimal drama.

Which aspect of launching a new feature concerns you the most? Please let us know in the comments below:


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