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How Often Should You Update A Mobile App?

April 11, 2022

Travis McCallum

Blog

Mobile apps development have become an essential tool for engaging with customers and driving sales for many businesses. But with new app releases and updates coming out every day, how often is it too often to update your app to keep it in the market? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer with a fixed timeline to this question as it varies from app to app and business to business. But you should update your app as often as you can, without annoying users to the point of uninstalling.   

However, few factors to consider when determining how often an update is necessary. Among them are the app’s purpose and performance, the audience it is designed for, the level of competition within its category, and how quickly technology changes. It is also important to consider user feedback to determine which areas of the app need improvement or further development.   

Given this newfound knowledge, you now need to identify when it’s best to update your app. We have included a FAST and SLOW update note for each reason outlined below to help you understand how big or small these patches are when released.   

Reason #1 – Time (Bugs)

You take your car to the mechanic every three months for an oil change right? Well, just like your car, with mobile apps on the surface everything looks fine, but it can be easy to miss major disasters that may happen if you aren’t auditing your software regularly.  

This is why getting into the power of habits is so important. Author Charles Duhigg of, “ In The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business”, says, “Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage.” This means that if you, the prestigious app owner, make a habit of updating (changing) your app on a consistent schedule, then those small incremental changes will amass into one huge victory. 

Technology is growing at an exponential rate, according to the Law of Accelerating Returns. So, at a bare minimum, you should update every 14 days to keep up with the world. That’s like driving from NYC to LA 7 times!!! What are the chances your car would break down? Probably at least once, if not more. 

UPDATE PRIORITY: FAST – Bugs that interfere with the user experience need to be taken care of quickly. 

Reason #2 - Feature Expectations

Trends come and go, but sometimes something sticks. When AOL Instant Messenger came out, people thought it was a gimmicky item. No way it would take off… but it took off, made a cultural shift in the way people communicate before eventually falling off.  Your sworn duty as an innovator and entrepreneur is keeping your ears low to the ground and your eyes above the horizon. 

Every application will have its own set of standard features based on its unique use case. But consider the following as updates people might expect: 

  • Search Function 

  • Social Networking 

  • Responsive Design 

  • More Touch and Less Keyboard 

  • User Feedback Options 

  • Offline Use 

UPDATE PRIORITY: FAST – Replicating other successes is easy, because they’ve already done the hard work of coming up with the idea for you. 

Reason #3 - Improved UX

Want to know why the tab bars are so popular?  It’s because they are easy to reach with your thumb while holding your phone. Easy navigation, always visible and clear guidance on next-steps to take—people like simple and effortless experiences. Put yourself in front of your own device and ask if there’s something you would want to change to make it convenient and friendly. 

Outdated tech like the QWERTY keyboard could use a facelift.  😊 

UPDATE PRIORITY: FAST – These updates are quality of life changes that happen naturally. 

Reason #4 - Feedback

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” Steve Jobs makes a great point all app developers know, but many fail to execute a whole product development. A product doesn’t just end with the sale. Its lifecycle is a continuous loop of feedback directly from the customer!

Just like Jobs said, your customers are your greatest allies. They will tell you what works and what doesn’t. They’ll help you discover things about your app you never knew was possible. The growth doesn’t end after the laboratory testing.  If you ignore your user feedback you will get bad reviews.

UPDATE PRIORITY: SLOW – Here you have to factor in a wish-list of things people ask for, which need to be prioritized and lumped in a big release.  Oftentimes requests that come in will overlap with small nuances.

Reason #5 - Milestones

What’s your product roadmap?  Surely there are big plans to develop your app further. Say for instance, you shipped a base product with limited functions, but over time plan to open it up to specific industries with unique use cases.   

Unless you are being funded by an external source like venture capitalists or kickstarter, you will most likely launch your product with the basic concept and build on it.  Here are some examples of milestones: 

  1. New language translations 

  1. New analytics reports 

  1. New integrations with other software 

UPDATE PRIORITY: SLOW – These changes require a lot of planning and foresight because they are on a large scale in development. 

The Takeaway…

A custom mobile app development is only the first mountain to scale many, many, many more to come. Homeowner Associations (government regulations), neighbors (other app creators), and passersby (visitors to your app) are eyeing your yard to meet specific standards. So, you have to invest in it as an ongoing project filled with challenges and opportunities gleaned from the daily interaction of your users.  

If you are struggling to make your mobile application profitable and could use some help, Eleviant offers strategic consulting and development services. Our team of seasoned staff comes equipped with over 250 plus applications using mobile app best practices. 

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 13, 2020 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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