Squashing the Bugs and App Maintenance

No matter how much you test an app prior to launching it, IT WILL HAVE BUGS. Sneaky, weird, strange things that only appear once thousands of eyes and fingers start exploring what you have built.

With the shortened build window for CaseCollage, we had to move extremely fast. We rode the line of what is necessary to produce a functional, pleasing app, with the “just ship it” mentality. We got our MVP into the hands of as many people as possible but with a 2 week development window we only had a few days to gather feedback and iterate. Let’s hope we know what we’re doing :)

Once your app is in the wild, there are 2 kinds of bugs you want to look for: bugs in the code and bugs in the UX. Bugs in the code usually manifest themselves as crashes and we were pleased not to have too many of those (less than 2% of sessions resulted in a crash). Crashes are relatively easy to handle as long as you can get a stack trace. We used Flurry analytics to gather crash reports automatically and tackled the biggest offenders in each iteration until we got the crashes down to under 1%.

UX bugs on the other hand are annoying, frustrating, and eat away at a user’s app experience. They’re also hard to track down without very, very detailed explanations. “It just doesn’t work right” is not what you want to hear from a disgruntled user. What did you do? In what order? On what device? Odds are they did something you’ve never even remotely thought to try (otherwise you would have seen the issue and fixed it, right?). The main UX bug for our users happened when they exited the app to add photos to their camera roll, only to return and find they didn’t show up in the app. After many confusing emails referencing the problem we finally grokked the issue, fixed it, and got an update to our users.

My favorite part of app updates these days is the relative speed at which updates get to your users (at least after you get through app review). While its not the 100% day one adoption you get on some other platforms, the automatic app update feature introduced in iOS 7 seems to have really helped uptake. Here’s a graph of our users by version over time. Not too bad:

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 12.56.11 PM

Fixing bugs is never the most glamorous part of app development but its extremely important if you want to keep your users happy. Happy hunting!

If you’re late to this rodeo, you may not know, we built an app and wanted to share some of the details. You can find related articles below:
Part 1: The Ah-Ha Moment And What Comes After – The idea for the CaseCollage app

Part 2: Building an App in 2 Weeks – App development process, Wiley’s analytical take

Part 3: Roller Coaster App Store Review – App store submission hurdles

Part 4: Becoming “Internet-Famous”- Prepping for launch and app marketing 101

Part 5: Squashing the Bugs and App MaintenanceWhen things invariably go wrong