Most mobile apps are updated regularly, but the updates brought by developers are minor ones. They mainly focus on small tweaks, minor additions, bug fixes, some polishing here and there or adding a new small feature.
As such, a major update is not as frequent as users would want, and it often implies a new version of the OS, a new UX design or new features. However, as an app developer, how would you know when you app needs a major update? Thankfully, there are some hints that may help you with this.
New app feature
If you want to add a feature that changes the entire user experience, then it’s time to release a major update. For example, if you want to add a social or collaborative element, to integrate a third-party service like payment gateway, to implement authentication and/or syncing across multiple devices, to change the revenue model of the app etc. You can even pair a couple of related features and thus make a major update.
In case you are planning to completely change the design of the app, whether you are thinking about the UX or the visuals, most likely you need to release a major update. It is natural for you to want to change a couple of things, if not everything, from time to time, and truth be told, users sometimes do crave a change. One example of such a major update is the introduction of Material Design in Gmail for iOS 5.0.
One main concern of developers, entrepreneurs and designers is how to best increase the app engagement. Taking into account several data analysis, you can find out what you need to improve about the app, and if the improvement is a major one, it requires a specific update. Asking upfront for feedback from your users is not a bad idea either! And since we’re here…
The in-app feedback is one of the most important things you have to take into account, because you’re constantly looking for user satisfaction. Check the app store reviews, the requests for support or the comparable items available on the market and in this way you can learn about what major flaws your app has and how to improve them. Some of the most often encountered problems consist in difficulties finding a certain feature, a particular button or needing a certain function which doesn’t exist.
These days technology advances extremely fast. Even a codebase created two years ago is old and obsolete now. In this case, even if everything works well in general, you might want to change the codebase. Keep in mind that a major update may imply a complete rewrite of your code, so prepare for this if you plan to do it soon. The more people work on a codebase, the more time it might take and the more complicated it may turn out to be, even if they do stick to the rules.
Extending to various platforms or devices
Given the multitude of the devices and platforms available nowadays, you have to be flexible if you want to cater to several types of users and reach as large a number of users as you can. Of course, expanding the app means that you have to rework the app code entirely, since you have to adapt to various design sizes and to aim for a coherent experience.
Latest design trends
Since technology is evolving quickly, so are the aesthetic trends. An outdated appearance is definitely a no-no for any entrepreneur, so you might want to keep in touch with the latest trends when it comes to designs. Check out the Human Interface Guidelines by Apple or the Material Design Guidelines by Google, since their advice may actually become useful.
All in all, there is a constant need for improvement, regardless of the type of app you have. Times and trends are changing faster than you might predict, so it’s extremely important to keep yourself informed, to watch out for what your other competitors are doing and what are the weak spots in your own app.
Do not let yourself fooled by the fact that you temporarily achieved a great app, you have to be aware that there’s always room for improvement.
Last but not least, remember that you have to take into account the user feedback, the codebase age, the current trends and technologies, the expansion and new app features when considering implementing a major update.