As users, we generally view app updates as pesky intrusions. Going to the app store and updating the app always appears like a long, drawn out task.
It is the mobile app equivalent of visiting a doctor for a regular checkup.
Some users even disable automatic app updates to save on their limited data plans.
Do all these things make app updates less important?
Updates are the most direct way for companies to slowly provide the best possible user experience.
No app is perfect. At any point of time in its existence, an app can probably use a tune up.
Sometimes there are a few minor bugs.
Other times there is a new security patch.
Every big and little change you bring to your app build reaches your users through app updates.
ASO and app updates – A big little thing you may not have known
App updates are traditionally seen as a facility to offer the best possible user experience. However, there are other lesser known benefits to regularly updating your app.
Prominent app stores like the Google Play Store tend to rank apps that are updated regularly higher. In essence, you increase your visibility on an app story simply by regularly updating your app.
App stores tend to prefer apps that are regularly fine-tuned to offer users the best possible experience. This makes app updates a key tenet of app store optimization.
There is no reason to illustrate the importance of app store optimization. Every company wants its target audience to discover its app organically. App store optimization makes this possible.
Thus, regular app updates are crucial from an ASO perspective as well.
This brings us to the crux of this piece. How often should you update your app?
It is easy to say app updates are important. However, rolling out new updates every now and then is very challenging.
In the following sections, we lay out some strategies companies can follow with regard to releasing regular app updates. From a developer creating an iOS app to another working on a WordPress mobile app, getting a grip over a good app update strategy is important.
One way of going about releasing app updates is choosing a time-based strategy.
Most app stores provide guidelines on the frequency of app updates. The general advice is releasing an app update every month.
The one-month timeline is a good baseline to start with app updates. However, a new app in the market should generally try to do better. Releasing four updates a month is the ideal frequency for a new app trying to get noticed.
There are many advantages of launching frequent app updates in the early stages after an app’s launch.
For one, entrepreneurs and companies don’t have to worry about user fatigue as a factor. Major apps tend to rollout updates at a slower rate because they fear their users will grow frustrated with frequent interruptions. A new app in the market doesn’t have enough app users to worry about factors like fatigue.
Secondly, frequent updates help the app from an ASO perspective. App stores tend to value apps with more number of updates because they assume that the developers are investing a lot of time in enhancing user experience.
Regular monthly updates essentially ensure your app features are all up to date. You can also improve your app from its MVP version and introduce small tweaks to enhance user engagement. Anyone who has built an app from scratch or someone who used an online app builder can see the merits of a time-based app update approach.
Is a time-based approach ideal?
In the short term, yes. It makes sense to make regular updates to enhance the everyday experience of an average app user. As mentioned earlier, it is also an ASO factor. Making monthly or weekly updates makes sense.
However, a time-based model may not work for your long-term app goals.
Let’s assume you plan to introduce a brand new feature to your mobile app. You naturally role out a new update for it. You need your developers to focus on this new feature and not get sidetracked by the demands of pushing out a new update.
In such a situation, following a time-based approach is wrong because your new update is actually based on a feature.
You must have seen mobile apps celebrating their launch anniversary. At such milestone events, many companies roll out a new app feature or announce a special sale on their app with an update.
This is a typical example of apps leveraging milestone events to roll out an update and get some traction behind it.
An event-based strategy basically implies that companies roll out app updates whenever a new milestone event comes around the corner.
To make an event-based strategy work, companies have to be good at identifying the right milestone events. For example, a cybersecurity app should ideally roll out a new update whenever there is a higher than usual demand for internet security.
Recognizing the demand patterns of the target audience is the only real way to make an event-based strategy work.
An app launch anniversary is only an example. For instance, retail stores in the US offer a lot of discounts at the time of Thanksgiving. Ecommerce stores also do the same as they are cognizant about their audience proclivity to spend at such a time.
An event-based approach comes from discount sales offered by regular retailers all across the world.
How do I know if an event-based approach is right for my app?
Event-based updates are spaced out over a long period of time. Complete devotion to this strategy means stopping weekly or even monthly app updates that only tweak the app a little.
An event-based strategy generally only works for apps with a large user base. This is because such apps can generate genuine organic excitement about a possible new update.
A new app in the market may not have a large enough base of users. While it makes sense for such apps to use these events for marketing purposes, pitching all hopes on an app update is not wise.
Thus, using milestone events as the only reason to bring out a new update is best for apps with a large user base.
The easiest strategy you can follow with regards to app updates is working upon user feedback.
We live in an increasingly democratized digital world. App users don’t stick around with apps they don’t like and choose another in the market without a moment’s hesitation.
The only legitimate way to retain app users is to give them what they want. Acting upon user feedback is a step in the same direction.
A new app in the market rarely comes out bug-free. There are various performance issues and design problems in new apps as well. Users are generally the first people to point out these bugs and performative problems.
Thus, companies can schedule a batch of new updates to address user feedback.
However, bug reduction is not the only reason to use feedback as the sole mechanism to roll out updates.
Users are often the first to ask for new features or highlight a pain point. Companies can work on long-term app improvement projects based on user feedback alone.
The best part? It’s the users demanding these changes. Acting upon their demand will only satisfy their concerns and enhance retention even more.
Who should choose a feedback-based update approach?
Everyone. There is literally no app in the world above user feedback.
Remember the old saying – the customer is always right. In this case, the app user is always right. An app update cannot just come if there isn’t a real demand for it.
The biggest apps regularly change their app setup to incorporate user feedback. There is an alternative for literally every app in the market. Everytime an app ignores a user, it loses one person from their user base.
It’s not possible to incorporate all user feedback. However, acting upon the most common and constructive feedback can help an app slowly become the best.
Thus, every company should have a mechanism to roll out app updates based on the feedback they get.
There are many big and small companies out there that stake their claim in the market based purely on user experience. In other words, their USP is their unique focus on UX optimization.
Basing app updates simply on user experience changes makes sense for a lot of reasons. The entire point of rolling out app updates is optimizing user experience. Thus, centering the entire app update strategy around user experience establishes clarity.
Taking on such an approach means deriving UX inspiration from a variety of sources. There are some general changes a company plans to bring over a period of time. Then there are other UX changes that become necessary because of user feedback.
UX-based updates don’t need to bring whole scale changes to the app. Even something as simple as changing the color of a button can be part of an update. The ultimate goal is improving user experience.
Is the UX-based approach to app updates right for my app?
The UX-based approach boils down the app update question to its essence – does a new update make an app better for the end user?
Companies are quick to chase after such a straightforward approach to app updates. However, taking this route also means that companies have to offer a truly state-of-the-art experience to their users. This can become difficult for a small startup with insufficient funds to bring wholescale changes to user experience.
Does this mean startups shouldn’t focus on improving user experience at all?
No. It only means that making user experience the only basis to roll out app updates is unfeasible. There will come a point when making the app reaches its full potential and only making a big change in the app design will improve the user experience.
Thus, startups must be more practical about basing app updates solely on user experience. They also have to roll out updates to address user feedback or change features based on new market trends.
The market keeps changing as well. From an OS update to a new feature launch, things change quickly in the app market.
This offers a way to approach app updates. Companies can simply keep updating their apps based market changes.
For instance, the new iOS update dropped a few days back. Companies can simply roll out an update to make sure their apps work smoothly on the new iOS version. They can do the same every time a new Android update drops.
OS updates are only an example. There are always new features that capture the imagination of users. Companies can roll out updates integrating the new features onto their app.
Take the chat bot feature for instance. Many users find it convenient to deal with a chatbot. They are fast and respond to customer queries with much greater efficiency.
Companies can replace their customer service app page with a chatbot through an app update.
The best part of following market trends to take out app updates is that it keeps the app in line with key market trends. Trends like chatbot, OS updates, voice assistants, and so on come and go and apps don’t change. Following this model of app updates can help such a situation from arising.
Also read: Artificial Intelligence in mobile apps: The revolutionary partnership
Following market trends is crucial for the long-term success of the app as well. Thus, every successful app has to change according to market demands at some point.
Is the market trends based approach to app updates right for my app?
Some market trends are easy to integrate. OS updates are an example of the same. However, other market trends are much more difficult to incorporate for a typical startup. An algorithm to accurately predict content preferences is not feasible for any company down the road. Such projects require greater resources.
Thus, startups can’t centre their entire approach to app updates on market trends. They might have to integrate new trendy features from time to time. However, chasing every new innovative addition is not feasible. Someone using a free app maker for instance cannot
Which app update strategy is best for my app?
We covered the different approach companies can take when bringing out app updates in the market. Each strategy has its own legitimate merits that cannot be dismissed. There are cons in following each tactic as well.
So which option is the best?
There is no single answer to this question. There is no one strategy that will always work for a company with regards to app updates.
Let’s take an example.
Assume you bring out an app to the market. You naturally need to maintain a certain time-based frequency to do well on the ASO front. However, you also have to simultaneously react to user feedback. After all, you don’t have enough users at this point to risk ignoring even a single one of them. Thus, rolling out updates according to user feedback is also crucial.
What about user experience? Yes, it’s crucial to work on app updates solely for user experience concerns as well.
The solution to meet all these demands for app updates is adopting a flexible approach. There is no way you can choose one strategy for app updates. It is vital that you adopt a different approach at every turn.
For instance, you cannot simply keep following market trends for app updates. There will come a time you will have to be the one initiating a new trend.
In the early days of your app, focus on time and feedback-based updates. Roll out milestone event updates to give your app marketing team a lift from time to time. Keep user experience and market trends as long term app update goals.
Mix up your approach based on your app’s specific needs at a given stage. Don’t blindly adopt one approach and lose ground in other areas.
AppMySite and app updates – How do we update apps?
AppMySite enables users to create their own app with its mobile app builder. How do users who create an app on our platform update their app?
Firstly, users are free to update a lot of elements of their app without taking out a new update. These include the likes of app settings, dashboard, color theme, and so on.
To update their icon and launch screen, users can buy the New App version add-on. This enables them to update these elements.
We also introduce new features to our dashboard and demo app every week to offer the best possible experience to both Android and iOS users. The recent category management addition was an example of the same. This eventually helps our AppMySite users offer their customers the ideal app experience.
App updates are a pesky nuisance for an average user. For companies with an app in the market, they are the only channel to facilitate real changes to the app.
App updates are important for a number of reasons. Their relevance from a user experience perspective is obvious. However, they also have a defining role to play in shaping the ASO fortunes of an app.
This piece provides companies and entrepreneurs a strategic overview of how to create a solid app update strategy.