The Ultimate Guide to App Maintenance

Launching your app is just the beginning! Now it’s time to think about how you need to maintain your app. From monitoring tools, to bug fixes, to strategizing new features or designs over time, these are the key pieces to long-term success.

Full Transcript Below:

Cody: Understanding how the UX affects where the user’s going, and if it’s accomplishing kind of the business goals.

Cris: If you’re not monitoring and knowing what it’s doing, you can’t maintain it well. You can’t-

Cody: Probably the principle focus of, oh, we’re going to release our app. Well, the next thing, if it wasn’t already planned for, it should be monitoring.

Cris: You can’t just stop maintaining your application. Otherwise, your users will stop maintaining you.

Cris:

We get to talk today about application maintenance, app maintenance. There’s lots of things you can do obviously to maintain an application. We’re going to hit on five points. We might expand out. I don’t like I don’t like lists. I don’t like to be in confines. We’re going to figure it out.

Cody:

Sure, man.

Cris:

Number one though, to give us a starting point, monitoring your app’s performance. This is a good way to build maintenance back into the loop. How do you monitor applications? How do you feed that back in the maintenance loop?

Cody:

Oh, there’s so many ways because a lot of the time when you have an application, it’s not just the app that you have to worry about. A lot of the time you’re going to have like a backend server, you’re going to have extra infrastructure around that, it could be kinds of databases, there’s ad nauseum amount of things.

Cris:

What do they all do?

Cody:

Having a monitoring service for each of them, both in the sense of infrastructure monitoring, that’s important. Of course, you want to know if your stuff’s online. You want to know how it’s performing. But even then, for instance, like metrics analysis on how your users are interacting with your app, like a common tool that people use, like Hot Jar, heat mapping, understanding how the UX affects where the user’s going and if it’s accomplishing kind of the business goals. There’s a huge career someone could build on the idea of monitoring, reporting, all of that, with actual live application experiences within the user and the infrastructure and all of that. I think it is a wide and very important topic that I think it deserves probably the principle focus of, oh, we’re going to release our app. Well, the next thing, if it wasn’t already planned for, it should be monitoring because it’s going to come up.

Cris:

Yeah. Again, if you’re not monitoring and knowing what it’s doing, you can’t maintain it. You can’t know if there’s something that straight up isn’t working, whether that be … It’s a 404.

Cody:

Yeah, yeah.

Cris:

Or people aren’t actually engaging with it.

Cody:

Correct.

Cris:

Being able to look over the information and actually maintain your app, it’s just as important on day one as it is on day 10 and 20, a hundred, a thousand, so on and so forth.

Cody:

Exactly.

Cris:

You can’t just stop maintaining your application. Otherwise, your users will stop maintaining you.

Cody:

Exactly. Speaking of the UX and mapping and all of that, what about updating with design trends and whatnot? Does that seem like a good item on there? Is that important for apps?

Cris:

Yes. Yes, I think so. Number two would definitely be updating design trends; knowing what’s going on in your particular vertical, what are the actual industry standards, and now design trends that are happening within your vertical is important.

Cody:

Yep.

Cris:

Then I think overall society as a whole, what do they have to say because you can’t maintain an app, and you can’t maintain engagement, in this case, if you just always feel old. If people are going to your website or opening up your application on their phone, and they feel like they have to kind of blow the dust off it to actually work with it.

Cody:

Now, with that said, I would also say that it’s context dependent.

Cris:

Sure.

Cody:

If we’re talking about a consumer-facing app, it’s got to be flashy. Anything that faces the end user, always got to look super good. It’s all the marketing, it’s all that. A lot of times the business apps, it’s not really the case. If anyone who’s ever used a business app, they’re usually not very good looking.

Cris:

They’re not very good looking, but they need to work, and they serve a purpose.

Cody:

They are utilitarian.

Cris:

Yes.

Cody:

I think another quick point to mention on that, too, with the design trends, is that not only is it a design trend, but also there is, for instance, the utilitarian nature of the design too. A big trend within design lately has been inclusivity and accessibility.

Cris:

Yep. Yep.

Cody:

That’s also a big point of following trends and understanding the needs of your user, especially your user base. How do you know if 50% of your users have mobility concerns, otherwise need big buttons or something. That can come up and matter a lot, and I think it’s something to consider with choosing your design paradigm.

Cris:

Number three, adding new features. This is a way that you have to maintain your app. We talked about monitoring it, understanding what’s down, and obviously updating trends, but just features in general. You can’t just feature lock forever and not build something new. You’re going to die on the vine.

Cody:

Yes. Yes, absolutely. I feel like it is foolhardy to say you can’t just lock features forever. I feel like every entrepreneur I’ve ever talked to has the features they’ve made and a backlog that is four times the size of what’s already been done every time. That’s just the nature of the game. You have so many things you want to do with your product a lot of the time. I think it’s important to move on those.

Cris:

Focus is important.

Cody:

Yeah. Yes, it is.

Cris:

Don’t just get dissuaded by the entire backlog, but yes, you can’t just feature lock.

Cody:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. I think that figuring out what is the quickest, least effort, highest impact, prioritizing those lists, getting those features out, the stuff that’s really core to both your business, your revenue model, whatever it is your app actually does, I think that’s really important. I think it’s really important, but what might be even more important is number four, bug fixes because you shouldn’t write more features if you’ve got a lot of bugs, that’s a whole thing.

Cris:

I can’t tell you how many times i, again, open my browser, go to some website, and there’s an error page. You’re like, I’m done, I’m out. Or you go to launch your app, and it crashes, and you’re like, ah, I wasn’t that sold on this app anyway. It is amazing, even me, being in the space and I know what it takes to build these applications, how quickly I’m like, yeah, let’s try a different one. If you are not fixing bugs on the regular, you are going to lose market share so quickly.

Cody:

Absolutely. It’s totally a pitfall in my opinion of kind of just, maybe call it dysfunction within a product team. If you’re adding features and not addressing the issues you already have, it’s like lipsticking a pig.

Cris:

Yep.

Cody:

You got to get a different thing than a pig first. You got to change it up.

Cris:

At least to wombat.

Cody:

Yeah. We’ll cease the wombat. I don’t know where that metaphor is going, but … Yeah, you got to fix your bugs. It’s really important, probably more important than a lot of other things. Obviously, kind of tying in the monitoring stuff we’ve talked about, that often helps you fix those bugs too.

Cris:

Sure.

Cody:

These things are somewhat correlated in that sense. Yeah, that’s a really important fact.

Cris:

We have other videos where we talked about startups and stuff, and this can happen with everyone, but I think a really easy trap to fall into when you’re trying to maintain an app and you’re a startup is deviating from let’s fix bugs. It’s like, well, we just got to put the new thing out, and it’s going to work. We got to work quick. Yes, you have to be agile, you have to be able to scale, you need to be able to adapt quickly to the market, but it has to be bolstered and supported in the right manner and not full of errant bugs. Everything is going to have bugs in it, everything will. We’re never going to catch every single one, but you shouldn’t see them.

Cris:

Number five, as we wrap here, blockchain was not a thing when I was a kid. It’s a big thing now.

Cody:

Okay. All right. Yes.

Cris:

We did not have headsets that we can now use for AR/VR type stuff. Technology is ever-changing. There’s new stuff coming out all the time. How does that work into maintenance? Should you adapt new technology?

Cody:

I think there’s a few different facets to that. There’s obviously adapting new technology in the sense of you have to fit into the platform you are deployed on, whether that’s iOS, the Web, Android, whatever, Windows. You have to conform to those standards. A lot of the time, Apple’s legendary for this, they’ll just change things up on you. They’re like, oh, you want to update your app? Too bad. We changed everything. Fix it, or you’re just stuck where you are. That’s a really unfortunate thing for some platforms, but you do have to pay attention to it, and you have to get ahead of it.

Cody:

On top of that, of course, that’s just a necessary adaption, the elective adaption, you might call it, of being able to follow trends much like the design trend thing we talked about, but also just tech trends. I think that there’s two sides of this. I think it’s kind of polarizing too. You can either find a fad or a trend or whatever it be, whether it’s something to stay or something temporary. NFTs is a good example.

Cris:

Oh, shots … Oh, wow, wow.

Cody:

I know, shots fired.

Cris:

Okay.

Cody:

If you’re going to do that, it’s not like there isn’t money to be made in that space, you just have to go quick. It’s a put up or shut up moment, if you’re going to go and try to adapt and get to those trends as they’re happening. If you’re not going to do that to those wildfire trends that happen, it’s probably best to be really judicious on what you actually are going to implement because a lot of the time it could be a fool’s errand if you’re just kind of, for lack of a better term, half-assing it?

Cris:

Yeah. Yeah. I agree. You got to know what is in the space. You need to know how to basically adapt quickly and actually pull it in. Otherwise, you’re going to get left behind.

Cody:

Yeah, exactly.

Cris:

Realistically, or possibly, like you said in the case of a certain technology, you’re going to kind of dodge a bullet.

Cody:

Yeah. You’re going to dodge a bullet, or you’re going to be just too late to the party. A lot of these trends come up and they disappear, and that’s kind of what I meant by just being judicious. If we’re not going to change the whole process, put all the resources in this, and try and eat this thing as it’s in the market, and get into it and capture users or whatever it is you want to do with this trend; if there’s any doubt that can happen in a timely basis, probably just shouldn’t start. Just focus on your app and what it already does well.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday, where Cody and Cris talked all about really the key things that you need to pay attention to with app maintenance and how important app maintenance is. It isn’t just that you develop it and forget about it. If you have any questions about what they talked about today, go ahead and leave them in the comment section, and we will get right back to you. Don’t forget to check out the description box down below. We have a bunch of really helpful links for you guys, including a link to our free DevOps guide, which will really help you out if you are in this phase of app maintenance or you’re looking for DevOps services. You can also find us online at bixly.com. There’s a big button right at the top that says start my roadmap. That actually gets you a free 60-minute call with Cris to talk about your next app idea. Until next time, this has been an episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday.

Originally published at https://blog.bixly.com on June 7, 2022.

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