Why do you need app versioning?
You have a great idea for an app. You’ve gone through a long process of evaluating the market and your customers’ needs. You have spent time and money creating an app and delivering it to market. But after three months, the number of downloads are going down and more people are starting to dump your app. Almost two thirds are likely to drop it by the 10th use! Some will abandon the app due to poor navigation and usability; some will find a better app with superior UI design. Or, you may have miscalculated the market; or your customers’ needs may have changed. What do you do now – shelve your app and start from scratch? Or, perhaps it is time to reinvent it?
App versioning is the first thing you have to consider when you have a live app out there and lots of valuable users you don’t want to lose. A good app versioning strategy helps ensure the relevance of your app and keep your users engaged and generating revenue. But if you have implemented all of your ideas in the first version of your app, or did not anticipate the future dynamics because of budget or other constraints, you may find yourself trapped.
In the custom development world, app versioning can be tricky. You have already spent $30 to $50K on your custom app – and it might not have turned out exactly as you expected. Telling your management that they need to be prepared to spend 30 to 50% of the same amount two or three times per year to keep the app “relevant” could be risky. How can you plan ahead to ensure your app stays relevant and appealing to your users, while your long-term costs are kept to the minimum?
Key steps to a great app versioning strategy:
- Do your research. If you have a great idea, see what similar apps, if any, people have already come up with, and what is the functionality they provide.
- Always start with the longest ‘wish list’ of functionality you can think of. Put down everything you might possibly want in your app!
- Rank your wish list by order of importance: figure out your top 3 functions, then 3 of secondary importance. Shelve the rest for now.
- Plan to deliver App Version #1 with those 3 most effective functions and start building a user base. Customer reviews can generate more ideas and suggestions for improvement.
- The second app version, along with any necessary bug fixes, should include 1 or 2 of your secondary functions and 1 or 2 of the customer requested functions.
- Set up a schedule of similar upgrades over time, incorporating part bug-fixes, part wish-list, and part user requests.
- Always keep an eye on competitor apps and fine-tune your wish-list as the market evolves!
A great advantage of repeated, solid app releases is that if you have had bad reviews, you have a chance to fix that. If you are using a hired development team and they have given you a $50K price tag, you can spread that out by paying $30K for a smaller scope and then dripping your remaining $20K over three to nine months to keep your app buzzing. App versioning helps you make major changes, if necessary, because you have not spent all your money, nor wasted all of your good ideas.
The recent release of the MobileSmith Platform – MobileSmith 3.0 – includes a robust, enterprise-class app versioning functionality that can slash the costs of continuous new releases. You can make upgrades “on the fly” without writing a line of code or paying anyone tens of thousands of dollars to write it. MobileSmith offers no templates, but a truly custom app experience created native for iPhone, Android, and iPad. You can version and deliver your apps securely in the cloud environment.
With MobileSmith Enterpise App Versioning, you can:
- Save each project as a draft or a live app; view the timeline of your drafts and live apps
- Lock the live version and continue reinventing your app at no additional cost
- If you accidentally mess up your app, your live version stays intact. If your computer glitches or you accidentally delete the app – your live version stays unchanged!
- Manage all the live versions of your app from a single CMS. You are using the same AppBlocks in all your app versions, so no need for multiple data entry!
- As a result, you don’t have to force your users to upgrade immediately when a new release of your app is out. They still get your content updates and can happily use the older version of your app until they are ready to upgrade.
With this approach, when the market places new demands on your mobile strategy, you need not go through a budgeting cycle, write requirements, get quotes… Simply go back to your desk, open the platform, create a new draft, instantly prototype it and send over-the-air to your device; test it live, and launch it to market. Voila! MobileSmith’s agile approach to app versioning is the most effective way to help your app stay relevant each and every day, while keeping the long-term costs of app reinvention way down.