In the 1900s Henry Ford invented the Model T automobile. That car was in production for almost 20 years. It was the first car that appealed to and was readily available to mass amounts of people. The fact that only minor changes were ever made highlight its durability. But each year Henry Ford changed its design.

Likewise today, businesses and app developers strive to make durable and appealing products. It is a challenge to create a quality product. It is also challenging to keep customers happy when releasing product improvements.

At any given time, an app will need several improvements. Teammates and customers will have various opinions about a product’s improvement. But product improvement will not make every customer happy. So a developer needs to pick his battles wisely. A collection of data can help to make an informed decision on product improvements.

The focus of any product improvement should be the needs of the users. The main priority is to create a better customer experience. And as with the Ford Model T, a product improvement may be a simple change to the design of the app. This keeps customers interested and engaged.

In this article created by TMS, we’re discussing some points which will help with product improvement for apps:

What is Product Improvement?

Product improvement is the process of making changes to enhance a product already on the market and increase its value. These changes result in new customers, better customer retention, and more satisfied customers.

Market research, product testing, customer feedback, and competition guide product improvement changes. There are two main ways to make product improvements. They are to add new product features or improve existing features.

Adding New Product Features

Adding New Product Features

Adding new features expands the ability of the existing product and creates new use cases. A new marketing campaign may be undertaken along with the issuing of press releases. Often the publicity attracts new customers. Non-customers may hear of a product for the first time due to the new product features.

Adding new features, however, is risky. Developers need to be confident that customers will value the new feature. When building a new feature several factors should be taken into consideration. Consider:

  • What people say they want
  • What people really want
  • What people are willing to pay

Improving Existing Features

There are several reasons to improve an existing feature. Perhaps users do not understand how to use the feature. Or some may not even know that the feature exists. But changing an existing feature can be tricky. Three ways to do so include deliberate improvements, frequency improvements, and adoption improvements.

Deliberate improvements are changes that make the feature better. Knowing why customers use the feature can prompt developers to make deliberate improvements. It’s also important to understand what customers appreciate about the feature.

Frequency improvements are changes that encourage consumers to use certain features more often. A feature that is infrequently activated requires a frequency improvement. This type of improvement transforms a feature into something that is used every day.

Adoption improvements target customers that do not use a feature at all. This type of improvement aims to get every user to employ the feature. For example, if only half of the customers use a calendar feature, adoption improvements strive to motivate everyone to use it. When it is evident that a change or integration will encourage everyone to use a feature then apply an adoption improvement.

How to Tell if a Product Needs an Improvement

When should an app be upgraded? The most obvious case is when bugs or performance issues arise. Successful apps update not only when something goes wrong, but at other times too. How does one tell when a product improvement is in order? Here is a complete list to help plan when to upgrade a product:

Performance Issues

The most important thing, after launching an app, is assessing how it performs. Many metrics need to be analyzed to determine overall performance. Look at bounce rates, average usage, and engagement levels. This will assist in discovering any performance issues.

Bug Fixes

Receiving bug reports is a developer’s nightmare. After testing and finally uploading the app to the market, it is frustrating to hear that it is not working. But every app has errors and real-life situations will bring those errors to light.

New App Design

New App Features

If an app has been on the market for a long time it may be time to give it an upgrade. Redesigning or improving the experience the app provides keeps customers interested.

It creates excitement and encourages them to continue using the app. Some businesses make the mistake of focusing on improving only the aesthetics of a product. Consider both the aesthetics and customer experience to create an effective product improvement.

New App Features

Another reason to upgrade an app is to add new features. Trends come and go at a fast pace and businesses need to capitalize on them before it is too late. Adding new features to keep up with trends will encourage customers to keep using the app. It will also provide a thrill for customers. They can enjoy using the improved features before they knew they needed them.

Expanding to Other Platforms and Devices

Since there are so many different mobile devices and platforms, businesses have to launch apps that are compatible with all of them. Each platform and device works differently, so apps need to be tailored to work correctly. With constant advancements in technology, new devices are released at a rapid rate. This creates an ongoing product improvement battle to stay compatible with all devices.

User Feedback

In this world of social media, user feedback is abundant. Often customers leave reviews in the app store, on social media channels, and on business webpages. User feedback provides insights into how an app is performing in real-life situations. It also indicates what customers want. It is important to read these reviews and act on them by improving the product.

Ageing App Codebase

Many say that the mobile codebase ages fast. Technology is improving at rapid rates and new trends appear all the time. Businesses must plan frequent upgrades to keep pace with these new technologies and trends. In general, that means upgrading an app once every two years.

Latest Technological/Design Trends

Latest Technological/Design Trends

New design trends are springing up at a rapid rate. Apps with new designs excite customers. Businesses strive hard to create a new look to attract more customers. When apps do not keep up with new trends customers leave. So, apps need to be upgraded to compete with these new designs.

Security

Security is another very important aspect of apps. Hackers are a constant danger and customers will leave if they feel like their information is unsafe. Offering the latest security measures will keep customers safe and instill confidence.

Stability

Last but not least, stability is another factor involved in making a product improvement. Customers will not stick around if an app crashes time and time again. App stability is an essential metric that determines the success of an app.

A Guide to Product Improvement

Product development and product improvement include some of the same processes. After developing a product it goes through the process of being tested and tweaked. Both product development and product improvement have the same goal of appealing to customers. Both processes strive to deliver a product that customers want. And in both processes, a developer needs to understand customer desires and how to fill them.

The following includes product improvement processes:

Track User Feedback

User feedback provides valuable insight into the desires of customers. It also provides a window into their behavior and expectations. So an important step in the product improvement process is to pay attention to user feedback and reviews.

→ Keep an eye on social media posts, app store reviews, and customer service messages.

Find the issues or patterns most often mentioned in user reviews. Then use that information to prioritize upgrades.

Businesses can take the additional step of conducting UX research. UX research is a more in-depth method of discovering what customers want. Combining the data from user feedback and UX research provides valuable information. It forms the foundation for creating a product focused on the needs and wants of customers.

Testing

Product testing is the process of evaluating the performance of a product. Designers do their best but it is hard to examine how a product will fare in real-world conditions.

Product testing employs real users to assess if a product performs well under realistic conditions.

It is impossible to create a perfectly functioning app the first time around. This is why testing and tweaking are so important. Continuous improvement will ensure the app meets the needs of users.

What are the benefits of product testing?

Testing a product will help one to:

  1. Better understand the needs and preferences of customers
  2. Identify the well functioning aspects of the product
  3. Identify points of the product that need improvement
  4. Assess if the product fulfills the needs of customers
  5. Assess if customers understand how to use the product
  6. Choose the best version of a solution in the case of 2 or more conflicting solutions
  7. Test the reaction of the target audience

How to conduct successful product testing:

  1. Benchmark existing core metrics
    • Depending on the app, metrics can range from active users and customer lifetime value to acquisition costs, conversion rates, churn, and retention rates.
  2. Identify areas of improvement
  3. Set clear goals
  4. Test repeatedly
  5. Keep a log of learnings
  6. Apply those learnings to product optimization decisions
  7. Readjust the product roadmap

Chart the Usage of the Product’s Features

Not every feature creates a wow factor. There will be some features that users barely notice. Tracking the usage of each feature provides data about how users flow through the app.

→ Every feature of a product needs to move users from signing up for a mobile app to being a paying, happy customer.

Map out the sequence of features that users should move through from beginning to end. This will identify any drop-offs or unsuccessful transactions. Several tools are available to help collect the data. This data shows the flow of the app, helping identify if and what product improvements are necessary.

Mapping the paths customers take within a product provides insight into how the app performs. Most likely there will be multiple paths within a product. Users will not all take the same path so it is best to focus on the paths followed by paying customers. Then make product improvements to enhance those areas first.

Mapping feature usage will give a clear representation of which features have performance issues and how users flow through the app. This data will help identify any required product improvement. It will also help to prioritize product improvements.

Immediately Prepare Bug-Fixing Updates

A developer’s job does not end once the app is available online. They have to watch, listen, and discover how the app is performing.

→ Monitoring and interpreting user data can determine the success of an app.

Teams need to be ready to address bugs, reports of crashing, and user concerns for an app to be successful.

More often than not, an app will have bugs that need addressing soon after release. Releasing bug fixes two to three days after an app’s launch will reduce criticisms and bad reviews.

Incorporate Expert Perspectives

A fresh set of eyes can provide a new perspective and helpful suggestions. Ask team members who were not involved in the development of the app or feature to review and test new updates. Expert evaluations can test an app and reveal what improvements may be necessary.

There are different types of expert evaluations. They include:

Heuristic Evaluation: This is a usability inspection. Evaluators examine the user interface design to identify any usability problems.

Heuristic Markup: Heuristic markup is a less formal method than heuristic evaluation. It is executed by internal employees. They navigate the product the way they expect a user to and review the performance.

Cognitive Walkthrough: This an approach to check product usability by completing tasks. Evaluators complete set tasks to ascertain if new users can understand and navigate the interface.

Conversion-oriented Evaluation: This method of evaluation estimates how many users will take the desired action. For example, it can determine the percentage of users that will purchase something on a website or app.

Content Audit: A content audit evaluates if the content and information on a website are up-to-date and usable.

UX Review: A UX review requires a professional to analyze a website or mobile app. They look for usability and user experience problems and suggest how to fix it. It is based on scientifically backed methods.

Keep a Regular Flow Of Updates

The most successful apps release between one and four updates a month. These updates include a mix of feature upgrades and bug fixes. Regularly providing updates ensures that your app stays up-to-date, reliable, and competitive.

Ending thoughts on product improvement

Keeping customers happy means consistently delivering value. And product improvement plays a major role in that.

There are many stages to improving products. First, one needs to come up with a concept, organize a strategy, and seek approval from stakeholders. The next steps include building a prototype and then conducting extensive testing. Unfortunately, it is an expensive and complicated process.

Having a developing partner can relieve the pressure and speed up this process. TMS is a company that develops apps. Here are some things we have accomplished:

TMS outsource

We helped our partner migrate a fully functioning user dashboard from Angular to React JS. This was to create a highly interactive user interface.

We created Amelia. Amelia is a tool that helps small business owners automate administration tasks. It manages several functions including online bookings and online payments. It is compatible with various services and businesses. It supports multiple employees and business locations.

We also developed wpDataTables. This product serves as a tool for many website owners to display complex data in tables and charts. Data can be entered using any source and wpDataTables will calculate the data values. Magic!

We also worked with Geo1 to create an online 3D viewer that displayed point clouds.

And these are just some examples of what we’ve done over the years.

With help from this product improvement guide and a developing partner like TMS, it is possible to create quality products that are durable and appealing.

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