Updates are an essential part of app development. Tony Danova writes in Business Insider that no app earned above-average ratings with fewer than nine updates during a year, and there’s a correlation between more frequent updates and higher ratings.
And this makes sense because consistent updates usually translate into better app performance, improved functionality, more stability, etc.
No matter how seamless your initial launch is, you’re bound to release an update at some point. In the past, making the necessary changes involved a fairly arduous process where you had to write new code, test it, approve it and finally release it. This forced you to go through the entire publishing process all over again each time you released an update.
It could easily take days and meant that users had to download each new update in order for the app to be current. Fortunately, there’s a better way to handle updates now—remote configs.
Let’s discuss why this is a great alternative and how it allows dev teams to make updates with minimal friction.
The key benefit of remote configs is that they allow you to make changes without having to republish. To fully understand the significance of this, let’s look at it from your average customer’s perspective.
Say that you’re an E-commerce store owner and you want to add a new feature to your app. Traditionally, you would have to go through the motions and republish with the updated feature. At that point, the update would be distributed to your current users where they would need to manually download the update (if they didn’t have automatic updates turned on).
Although you could argue that this isn’t that big of a deal—after all, it usually only takes a second for a user to download an update—it certainly adds an unwanted step to the process. People are busier than ever, and most don’t want to deal with the disruption of downloading an update, especially when you’re making them frequently.
Just think if you’re making nine updates in a year. Your users would have to go back and download an update nine different times. Needless to say, this can be quite onerous after a while.
And when you consider the fact that the average smartphone owner uses 30 apps per month, it can become incredibly frustrating if every app they use requires this.
At the end of the day, people just want their apps to work correctly without having to think about it. Keeping it updated isn’t something they want to be burdened with.
Configs Framework is a breakthrough because it eliminates the need to republish. You simply make changes in the cloud, and the next time a person uses your app, configs will take the latest values and update your app. This way they’re good to go without any effort on their end.
No disruptions. No drama.
Customize with ease
Let’s say that you want to temporarily change the appearance of your E-commerce store during the holiday season. You want to deck it out with a Christmas theme to get users in the spirit and in the mood for buying.
However, you don’t want to make any lasting changes. You simply want to incorporate the Christmas theme throughout December and then change it back in early January.
With remote configs, you could switch up your app’s colour theme so that it matches your seasonal promotion without having to publish an app update or bothering your customers by making them download the update.
In turn, you’re able to continually customize your app and keep it fun and exciting without ever disrupting the user experience.
Reduce user friction
The odds aren’t exactly in favour of dev teams when it comes to retaining app users. A study by Kantar/ITR paints a pretty grim picture of the average uninstall rate.
According to their findings:
- 26 per cent of apps are uninstalled in the first hour
- 38 per cent on the first day
- 64 per cent in the first month
- 89 per cent over 12 months
If someone was on the fence about using your app, to begin with, the irritation of manually downloading an update could be the reason for an uninstall.
Obviously, a high churn rate isn’t good for business and can really hurt your bottom line. This is why it’s so crucial to eliminate as much friction as possible for users.
And remote configs does just that. By making updates as streamlined and efficient as possible, users can continue to have an amazing app experience without the hassle of manually downloading updates.
Set how a segment behaves
You likely have multiple groups of people using your app. They may be from different countries, speak different languages, be different ages, have different spending patterns, and so on. So it only makes sense that you’ll want to break users down into segments and provide a personalized experience.
Another great feature of these configs is having the ability to easily set how a segment behaves or its appearance based on who the user is and the device they’re currently using.
For example, you might want to put your app’s text in English for US users and in Spanish for those in Central and South America. Configs framework makes this nearly effortless where you can deliver a unique app experience for the various segments of your user base.
Run stress-free A/B tests
Here’s the thing about updates. There are no guarantees that 100 per cent of your user base will be happy about each one. While some users may love a particular update, others may hate it. So this is definitely something to be cognizant of before rolling out a major update.
But how do you decide whether or not an update makes sense?
A/B testing is usually your best bet. With remote configs, you can create experiments to determine what the impact of a potential change would be before rolling it out.
For instance, you could try out a new feature on half of your users while keeping the old settings for the other half. From there, you could see what type of impact it has on engagement. Once the results are in, you’ll know whether or not the change makes sense or if it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
If engagement levels have increased, you’ve got the green light to go ahead with the update. If they’ve stayed the same or have decreased, you’ll want to reconsider.
Now let’s put it all together. What do you get when you combine streamlined updates, seamless customization, less user friction and a more personalized experience?
It’s simple. You have happier users—not just for now, but often for the long run.
We know that people are more selective than ever about the apps they decide to use. Just over half (51 per cent) of all smartphone users download zero apps per month. And when you factor in the average uninstall rate we mentioned earlier, it’s clear that keeping your users happy is extremely important.
With 2.1 million apps in the Apple App Store alone at the end of 2017, users aren’t lacking for options. If your app fails to deliver the type of experience they’re looking for, most will simply turn elsewhere.
While remote configs aren’t a be-all-end-all solution, they’re certainly beneficial and can go a long way in maximizing user satisfaction. And this means you should see few uninstalls, a lower churn rate and increased revenue.
The evolution of app development
Getting people to download your app is only half of the battle. What’s even more important is that they actually engage with it and you’re able to retain them.
A big part of this is routinely releasing updates that optimize the user experience while ensuring maximum functionality. The “old school” way of doing things that required you to republish and users to download every time you made an update is burdensome and is quickly becoming obsolete.
A better and far more efficient way of handling this is to use remote configs. As you just learned, they offer some immense benefits and can be a real game-changer in the long run.
As we move throughout the rest of 2018 and beyond, configs framework is a must and will likely be the new standard of doing things. So if it’s not something you’re currently using, you’ll want to get on board.
How many updates do you typically make each year to your app or software? Please let us know:
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