The holiday season always sees a boom of app downloads – people are getting new phones and tablets and want to stock them with the coolest apps. How do you make sure your app keeps their attention as we move into the new year?
Hugh Reynolds, CEO of Swrve, wrote some helpful pointers for VentureBeat on how to keep your app relevant past the initial download.
Hugh says, “There is no substitute for a testing program both before and after launch. It tells you how real users behave and validates your design decisions in the only way that counts.”
Testing is the biggest tool you have to make sure your app is going to work in the hands of uses and keep them coming back. But it’s important to not rely solely on in-house testing, that’s not where your users live, work and play. Incorporating in-the-wild testing will give you real life feedback on how your app works under varied conditions and in the hands of people who are totally unfamiliar with your app.
Paying attention to user feedback after launch is a natural extension of testing. Production is, after all, the ultimate test. Monitor what users are saying about your app to find out what is delighting them and what needs work for your next release. The best way to keep users engaged is to give them what they want and address issues.
Optimized the first 24 hours
Hugh says, “If your app can’t compete with rummaging the fridge for leftover turkey and ham, you’ve got a problem. And that’s what will happen if what you deliver is too confusing, too difficult to use, or doesn’t clearly sell the value. … So make sure you design to bring out the intrinsic value of your app.”
This is also why testing before launch with professional testers who mimic your target audience is so vital. You get one shot at an initial launch. If it doesn’t go right it can take days or even weeks to get an updated version of your app pushed to users – by then, the damage is done.
So do your homework. Involve usability experts during the design phase and run thorough usability testing before launch to make sure users understand what your app is about and how to interact with it. If your app includes a tutorial, that needs testing too to make sure users can follow along and get all the information they need.
After launch, pay attention to see if your users are complaining about the usability of the app. “Easy to use” is a good thing, “confusing” means you have some work to do.