The following is a guest post by Tiffany Rowe. Tiffany is a Marketing Administrator at Seek Visibility, where she assists clients in contributing resourceful content throughout the web.
Imagine that you’ve purchased a new vehicle. It’s clean and shiny, everything works great, and of course, there’s that new car smell. After you’ve been driving it for a few years, though, it’s not looking so great. The interior is dirty and doesn’t smell anything like a new car, the exterior is dented and dinged, and you aren’t entirely sure if it’s actually going to start in the morning, never mind get you from point A to point B.
Of course, if you maintain your car, by getting regular oil changes and tune-ups, keeping it clean inside and out, and taking care while you drive, it’s likely to stay reliable, and you won’t be embarrassed to pull up to the valet outside a swanky restaurant. The same general concept applies to your applications: They might be great at first, but unless you maintain them, eventually they aren’t going to work the way they should, and they could become an embarrassment to your company.
All too often, though, companies fail to include a maintenance plan in their application development strategy, focusing instead on defining the audience and selecting features that will engage users. However, all that planning and work will be for naught if the app doesn’t work as it should, or doesn’t change and evolve with user expectations.
Why Maintenance Matters
There are several good reasons to stay ahead of app maintenance once you deploy your app:
Maintenance increases the life span of the app. Think about the apps you use every day. Facebook, for example, is very different now than it was even just a few years ago. Part of the reason for the app’s success is that it’s been continuously revised and tweaked – and problems are generally addressed. It would not be nearly as successful, for so long, without staying on top of changes, which have happened gradually. Letting your app languish until it needs a complete overhaul is not a good way to maintain engagement – and it increases costs.
The app remains functional. Users expect your app to work as advertised. Without regular maintenance, features are likely to become glitchy or nonfunctional, and drive users away.
Maintenance improves productivity. If your app is designed for your team, staying on top ensures that everything works smoothly, which helps improve productivity.
The bottom line is that if you want your investment in an app to pay off, you need to develop a maintenance plan. But keep in mind, there are different types of maintenance, and you should plan for each.
Types of Application Maintenance
As you develop an application maintenance plan with your mobile design company, consider the following types of maintenance:
Platform and API updates
Whenever the device OS is updated or the background APIs change, you will likely need to make changes to your app to ensure compatibility and function. Plan for upgrades to avoid delays when the OS is inevitably upgraded.
As technology becomes more advanced, you are likely to want to upgrade your app to add new features or change code to make existing features work better.
Even the best maintained apps can sometimes have problems that lead to errors or breakdowns. Corrective maintenance will correct these problems – ideally, before too many users are affected.
Like an oil change for your car or getting your teeth cleaned every six months helps prevent problems before they start, your app needs a preventive tune-up on a regular basis. By identifying and fixing potential issues before they become bigger problems you can limit downtime and maintain user experience.
One of the most important maintenance tasks is to manage any vulnerabilities to protect users and their data.
Another important part of application maintenance is keeping users informed about the updates and encouraging them to install the newest versions. Explain the changes and why they are necessary, and what users can expect to gain from the new version. This is especially important when it comes to security.
Typically, you can expect to spend about 20 percent of your application development budget on maintenance every year. When you do, you will have a better-quality product that is more engaging to your users – and won’t fail or be detrimental to your company when you need it the most.