Introduction to app maintenance
As Mike Rowe would say, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it!
Application maintenance, in its simplest terms, refers to the process of regular updates, bug fixes, and improvements made to an app after its initial release.
This ensures that the app remains functional, secure, and user-friendly.
Now, let’s study this critical element of software development in more detail.
Understanding app maintenance
Think of application maintenance as regular check-ups for your mobile or web application.
Because bugs and problems can crop up at any time, it’s essential to recognize that the task of app maintenance is essentially an unending journey.
Once your app is in the hands of the users, the maintenance cycle kicks in and goes on indefinitely.
Maintenance covers everything from correcting bugs and enhancing performance to making certain the app remains compatible with updated systems.
Moreover, expectations of users continue to evolve, and your app should be updated to reflect these changes through regular updates, improvements, and modifications.
This combination of reactive and proactive maintenance ensures your app stays updated with market trends and continues to deliver value to users.
Why app maintenance is crucial
Why should you invest time and resources in app maintenance?
There are plenty of reasons, and they all boil down to the fact that there’s no such thing as a completely flawless app.
App maintenance minimizes these flaws such that they do not impact the user experience through the following steps.
Bugs and glitches can severely harm the user experience, leading to customer dissatisfaction and potential uninstalls.
Regular bug fixes not only correct these minor issues but also prevent major, systemic problems that severely affect usability and function.
One major bug gone unchecked for too long is all it can take for users to abandon your app.
Crashing is technically a bug, but one severe enough to earn its own entry!
A crash not only stops the user flow completely, but severely damages the app’s reputation in the marketplace.
Negative reviews on app stores will absolutely impact the overall rating and future downloads of the app.
With cyber threats growing in sophistication and frequency, keeping your app secure is of utmost importance.
Regular security updates help to guard against malware, data breaches, and other cyber threats.
Not only does it keep users safe, it shows them your commitment to their safety, enhancing their trust and loyalty.
No user has ever complained that an app performs too well.
Regular app maintenance aids in improving load times and enhancing UI/UX, thereby delivering a level of performance that meets – or even exceeds – user expectations.
Here are a few steps developers frequently take to improve app performance:
- Optimizing your database queries to reduce information retrieval time.
- Compress images and media files to decrease load times.
- Get rid of unnecessary or redundant code to increase speed and responsiveness.
- Implement lazy loading to defer initialization of objects until needed
Breaking changes occur when there is a change to the software or API in your app’s technology stack, causing parts of it to stop working as intended, including:
- Operating system updates
- Backend server software updates
- Database system changes
- Third-party libraries or frameworks updates
- Changes in network protocols or settings
- Updates to external APIs your app relies on
A full blown tech stack relies on a lot of different ever-changing technologies, and regular maintenance lets you catch potential code disruptions before they escalate into bigger issues (see crash above).
Benefits of regular app maintenance
The direct benefactors of a regularly maintained app are really its users, and you, as the founder of the app, benefit from having a base of highly satisfied customers – a.k.a. walking brand ambassadors.
A lovable UX
When you regularly maintain your app, you ensure a smoother, more engaging user experience.
A glitchy app might put off potential users, pushing them towards a competitor’s offering.
But taking time to fix bugs and streamline user interfaces contributes to a seamless experience that keeps users coming back.
Higher retention rates
App maintenance plays an integral role in user retention.
When users see regular updates, they know you’re actively supporting the app, making them more likely to stay.
If your app lags behind or experiences recurrent technical issues, users might feel abandoned and uninstall your app.
An app is a reflection of your brand.
If it’s well-maintained and functions seamlessly, it sends a strong message to consumers about your commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.
However, if your app is clumsy or glitchy, it could erode your brand reputation.
Keeping up with app maintenance helps you preserve and enhance your brand image.
Reduced customer acquisition cost
While app maintenance might seem like a recurring cost, it can save you a lot in the long run.
When you maintain your app regularly, you’re able to identify and fix minor bugs before they escalate into big issues.
This is much cheaper and less time-consuming than tackling severe problems that were ignored or missed.
App maintenance best practices
Effective application maintenance should be strategic and planned.
Implementing these best practices in app maintenance can maximize your return on investment while ensuring your app’s success.
Allowing developers to do necessary maintenance
Remember, you hire trustworthy app developers so you don’t have to micromanage!
Developers need a certain level of autonomy to keep your app bug-free without having to consult you every time they need to carry out maintenance.
Besides room to work, avoid penny-pinching when it comes to regular app maintenance – we assure you it is 100% counterproductive.
Just like an untreated health issue can complicate and become exponentially worse over time, fixing unattended app issues can cost ten times as much compared to preventing them.
Setting up a regular update schedule
A fundamental best practice is establishing a regular schedule for updates.
While it may initially seem daunting, a systematic approach promotes continuous improvement and contributes significantly to your app’s success.
Regularly collecting & utilizing user feedback
Feedback from users is invaluable in app maintenance and provides a steady stream of insights with which you can prioritize which updates and fixes are most urgent.
For that reason, maintain open lines of communication with your users and community, such as through the following methods:
- Conducting in-app surveys to gather user feedback directly within the application.
- Levying user testing sessions, encouraging users to share their app experience and issues.
- Asking for user ratings and reviews on app stores.
- Using social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Participating in community platforms like Reddit, Discord, and Slack.
- Implementing feedback forms on your app landing page.
- Monitoring customer support enquiries for common issues faced by users.
Investing in Automated Testing
Investing in automated testing aids in reducing the resources spent on manual testing and aids in delivering a more reliable product by catching issues before they reach your users.
Keep in mind that automation so far still cannot replace the need for human developers.
In fact, developers proactively seek ways to automate as much testing as possible because it reduces time spent on maintenance tasks, allowing us to focus on more strategic tasks like new feature development or bug fixes.
Conclusion: App maintenance is a strategic tool
As an app founder, you’ve already poured significant resources into developing your app.
It is essential to see app maintenance not just as an added expense or necessary evil, but as an integral part of your overall investment.
After all, app maintenance is what keeps your app running smoothly and consistently improving – every bit as vital as the initial development.
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