10 Reasons Why Mobile App Maintenance Is Important
Milo Mobile helps mid-size companies and mobile developers of all skill levels navigate the tech “Sea of Knowledge” through mentorship, education, and custom mobile-focused solutions.
Billions of users turn to apps on their phones daily, and audiences in the United States use them for over five hours daily. While building a popular app and having tens of thousands or even millions of people download it is a great step forward for your app, that's only the start of an uphill battle. The average user has 60-90 apps installed on their phone, but they only use about 25 different apps each month. That means approximately two-thirds of apps aren't getting used at all, let alone frequently.
While circumstances like user needs, seasonality, and marketing affect how often your audience remembers and opens your app, mobile app maintenance is an often neglected but significant factor. Your app needs to be a fast, error-free, valuable and easy-to-use mobile solution, or it will fall to the bottom of users' preferred apps.
Does your company currently incorporate regular app maintenance in its mobile strategy as a standard practice? If the answer is no, you're not alone—of the 4.6 million apps on the Apple store in 2022, 3.3 million hadn't been updated in over six months. That low update rate is just one of the many reasons why your organization must start prioritizing better app maintenance. In this master list, we've compiled ten reasons why mobile app maintenance will be essential throughout 2023 and beyond.
What Does Mobile App Maintenance Look Like in 2023?
There are many different types of mobile app maintenance. One of the most commonly used is 'emergency maintenance' — the rushed maintenance hours and solutions you throw at an app when it suddenly goes down, or there's a ransomware issue. But companies do best when they break down their app maintenance into different categories—preventive, perfective, adaptive, and corrective, for example—and assess their app through each lens. Doing this allows you to tackle urgent problems and important changes as methodically as possible.
Reserving 20%+ of Your Budget for App Maintenance
Every app project has a budget, whether it's an app for drawing in ad revenue, facilitating services, or bridging the gap between online and in-store shopping experiences. The mistake many organizations make is allocating all that budget to the initial design, marketing the app release, and paying hosting charges through the app’s lifecycle. Instead, businesses should reserve approximately 20% of the app's budget for maintenance. Budgeting appropriately gives you plenty of margin for resolving:
- Unexpected downtime (a sure way to get uninstalled)
- Bugs and glitches that cause delays
- Changes in navigation and use norms
- Changes in users' preferences for new features
These maintenance tasks are essential, but they take time and money. When you set part of your budget aside, you can address problems as they come instead of having to prioritize the most essential solutions and risk jeopardizing user experience along the way.
Related: United Airlines Case Study
10 Reasons to Prioritize Mobile App Maintenance
You know mobile app maintenance is important. As an app user and a stakeholder in an app project, you know how frustrating and stressful poorly performing apps can be. This makes it all the more important for your business to invest in building and maintaining a good app. In fact, failing to do so could have significant negative consequences for your business. This list of ten reasons highlights why mobile app maintenance is not only important but also urgent.
1. Operating System Releases and Patches
Phones regularly update their operating systems and release new versions. Apple releases a new iOS every year, just ahead of new iPhones, and the company tends to support old operating systems for only five or so years. Your app should also update to match the needs and capabilities of your users' new operating systems.
Not only does this prevent lag and potential security problems, but it also allows users to enjoy the full gamut of new capabilities through a new OS. A professional developer can help you upgrade and update your app over time. The last thing you want is loyal users switching to an app that makes better use of the newest iOS or Android release.
2. User Preferences Require Constant Refinement
With the right software running in your app's background, your team will have clear insights into which pages are used and ignored. They can also evaluate what pathways users prefer and the features that make the most significant difference to UX. With these insights, you can adjust defaults to better align with known user preferences and either enhance or remove features based on what the data shows. This constant refinement should fall under the umbrella of 'maintenance' as you constantly fine-tune your app to meet shifting needs.
3. WCAG 2.2 Is Being Released (And Will Be Updated in the Future)
Accessibility is essential. Not only should your organization do its best to comply with ADA recommendations, but an honest effort toward staying accessible and WCAG-compliant makes a big difference to your audience. Your team or maintenance partner can easily use the new success criteria under WCAG 2.2 to ensure visuals, navigation, and other app functions are built so everyone can use them.
WCAG 2.2 is not the first iteration of accessibility standards and won't be the last. Building your processes for maintaining high accessibility practices now can go a long way to ensuring the success of your app over time.
4. Competitors Are Building Better Apps All the Time
Not only does each of your app users have many apps on their phone, but thousands of new apps are hitting the market every day. The Apple App Store released over 36,000 apps on the Apple App Store in October 2022. Attention-getting game apps make up a substantial percentage of app store downloads, and users can quickly find a more engaging substitute for old favorites. News apps, deal finder apps, productivity apps—every genre has dozens of competitors.
The government is also considering policy action regarding how major app stores operate, looking for ways to introduce more competition into the marketplace. While this can be an excellent move for apps and companies seemingly locked out of top ten lists, it also means every app will be under fire. Without ongoing maintenance and new updates, your app might drop out of sight.
5. Decreased Performance, One-Star Ratings, and Poor Reviews
Regardless of your industry or type of app, most negative reviews come down to poor performance, lag time, difficult navigation, or glitches that kick the user out of the app. When customers can't easily reach support (or aren't inclined to go through the effort), they leave one-star ratings and reviews that spotlight their negative experiences. This feedback can, in turn, make your app less prominent in app stores and discourage prospective users who refuse to download any app with low star ratings.
6. The Mobile App Maintenance Red Flag
It's not enough for your organization to value app maintenance—your ideal app developer should value it, too. In fact, you can use this as a gauge to measure the value of potential mobile app developers: if you're considering a handful of different developers, ask them about maintenance. Do they offer maintenance and related support? Will they be there for emergency, preventive, and adaptive maintenance over the years? Or do they assure you that well-constructed apps don't need maintenance?
Run away from the latter. Developers touting maintenance-free apps offer an app with short-term shine. But app developers with a clear and transparent plan for ongoing maintenance are more likely to have your best interests at heart. The right developer will demystify development and maintenance, discuss long-term considerations for your app, and focus on how an app can really help your customers.
Related: How We Work and Why We Choose Agile
7. Keeping Your Cashflow Predictable
Emergency maintenance for mobile apps—just as with any other emergency maintenance—is often the most expensive. Calling in a team all of a sudden—in-house or through a third-party service—for a rushed troubleshooting and repair session is costly, and even worse, it's likely not accounted for in your operational budget.
That's why revenue directors and CFOs should also be on board with robust maintenance plans for your native apps and online assets. Predictable maintenance fees that shore up security, prevent sudden breakdowns and downtime, and don't require sudden after-hour expenses are better for business.
8. Minimize Downtime
Speaking of downtime, one of the most critical aspects of a good maintenance program is ensuring that your app can manage the required up-time in your service level agreements (SLA) and promises. While hiring a developer you can trust is key to minimizing downtime from the outset, a strong start isn't enough.
Depending on the nature of your app, the downtime costs will vary. For service apps with enterprise-level clients, you may be penalized for any downtime that exceeds your agreement with them. For other types of apps and clients, you'll lose the revenue you would have earned if your app was humming along.
9. Without Updates, the Apple Store Might Get Rid of You
Last year, Apple announced that it would clean out its app store by removing apps that haven't been updated recently enough. No matter which app stores your users frequent, the last thing you want is to disappear from the storefront because you haven't released an update in a timely fashion. Create a proactive maintenance schedule that ensures you can regularly release new versions that keep your app in good standing.
10. Standing Out in a Crowded Marketplace
Continuous improvements and ongoing maintenance keep your app fresh, easy to use, and engaging. Remember: there are millions of apps on the major app stores, and you're fighting for attention in a very crowded space. If your app page:
- Is built with a long history of updates
- Receives plenty of high ratings, with minimal user frustration
- Implements regular changes that take advantage of updates in operating systems and analytical insights
your app will simply be better than others in your space. Don't think of maintenance as a process for maintaining the status quo—it's a process for staying multiple steps ahead of the competition.
Don't Just Build Your App and Walk Away — Invest in Mobile App Maintenance
App maintenance is integral to building an app that your customers will use and love. Your app project budget should take into account:
- emergency maintenance in the event of a sudden problem
- adaptive maintenance so you can fine-tune it with incremental and continuous adjustments
- preventive maintenance that catches potential performance problems before they cause more significant issues
Effectively maintaining your mobile app can be accomplished with your in-house team, an outside team of development experts, or both. Evaluate which of your team members have the necessary skills and expertise to manage your app's maintenance, including identifying and implementing changes needed over time.
If your in-house team has limited abilities, find experts who can work with them (or take on the whole job if needed), bringing in fresh ideas and more specialized skills. They should align with your company's goals and use their experience to recognize what your audience needs, transparently walking you through the process to make a successful app an ongoing reality.
Ready to get started with app maintenance services built around your business needs? Book a 30-minute consultation with Milo Mobile to see how we can help.