I often get asked the question, well how often should I update my mobile app? I typically have to stop, think, and say: It depends. There is no magic number here, however, the frequency depends on a quite a few things. Below are 5 considerations you should consider when deciding how often you should update your app.
How dynamic is your content ?
If your app is content centric and seasonal, say your app is dedicated covering a certain team for the upcoming football season, then you naturally have to keep up with every season to provide value to your fanbase. When content is dynamic in an app there will always fresh content to keep users engaged, and in return, not as many large updates are needed besides bug fixes. Every season you might consider doing some sort of overhaul to either add new features or modify the design in order to get your users excited about using the app again for your upcoming seasonal sport, event, etc. So you would have to push out updates every season with the new features you would want to add.
Building the mobile app in iterations or an MVP approach
In most cases mobile apps are developed using agile methodologies. Rather than building out the entire mobile application all at once, you build a mobile minimum viable product upfront and continuously iterate with new upgrades to the application based on user feedback. With agile and the MVP driven methodology you might want to do frequent updates on a monthly or semi-monthly basis in order to push new features to users. Based on the size of your development team and amount of resources these updates could be as frequent as weekly.
New hardware and software
With every new release of an Operating System, the app needs to be updated accordingly to incorporate the latest design or efficiencies in development. Also note for changes in the hardware – for example, with the release of iPhone 5, there was a different screen size that needed to be considered. Similarly, with new and popular Android phones, the app developers have to ensure that the app works well on all screen sizes. Whenever there is a new operating system update that brings a big change in the overall user experience, your app might need an update to align with the look and feel of the new software.
Bugs and User feedback
In the real world, you will, on most occasions, find bugs in the system. Some of the bugs can be critical and will prevent users from using the application and will have to be fixed as soon as possible. Minor bugs can be addressed in batches and can be put out in the next release. Also, always listen to and incorporate user feedback. There is nothing better than real world testing and nothing can replace user feedback. The app is being built for the users, not for the stakeholders or the developers. So one has to constantly build additional features based on user needs. If you have a major bug, fix it right away with an update. If there is a feature that a large majority of your users are requesting, think about using the MVP approach, build it quickly, and update your app.
How important is the app for your business model?
Are you the Instagram, Evernote, or Pandora of the world where your business is based around mobile? Is a mobile app crucial to run operations within a particular business line of your enterprise?
If the app is extremely crucial to your business model updates are going to be extremely critical and a lot more frequent. For example, Facebook app pushes at least once or twice a month or more with new features and bug fixes. As a developer, you have to constantly stay ahead of the competition in terms of innovative designs and features.
Or, is this app just to boost your brand value and to adopt technology? In cases where the app is not a significant portion of your business, the app and its content are way less critical than in the previous scenario. Major bugs still need to be fixed at the earliest as it affects your brand, however, updates will not be needed as frequent.
How often are you updating your apps? Are you fixing major bugs that are hindering your users experience with the app? How often do you think someone should update their app, It would be great to hear in the comments?
Arun Rao is a Project Manager at the Enterprise Mobility Agency, ChaiOne