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Apps are necessary for any web-based company that wants end-users to get the most value out of its product. It is estimated that there will be 1.4 mobile devices for every person on this planet by 2016. This means that most people currently have access to app downloads, and they have access to the multitude of ways in which apps can improve their lives: beer helpers, a pocket sized travel agent, or the same way to clock in and out of work. There are a few classic errors that diminish the chances of an app’s success: from high end user expectations, to poorly handled beta testing crashes, and of course, the end product fail whales. Here are a few examples of what to avoid and how to fix those touchy transgressions.

User Error

User errors are the easiest errors to fix, and are the most common ones that happen. There are usually mistakes made by both parties involved that contribute to user issues; maybe Google Maps says out loud to go down a road, but on screen it is shown that this road is seasonally closed (Mormon Emigrant Trail, just three hours outside of Google HQ, has led to some lost travelers trying to get to Kirkwood in mid-winter). It’s easy to blame the user for not knowing that the road was closed, but it’s just as easy to blame the app for not being better. This is one of the many examples of users who are not able to use an app to its full potential due to a small disconnect. If your goal is to make yourself the authoritative resource for your niche, guiding your user through your product, and encouraging them to install updates and regular maintenance will give you additional authority. Leading your user through your app via intro tutorials and easy directions results in less lost users. It might seem obvious for someone to insert their password in the required field, but guiding them through the basic steps can transform even the most basic user into a pro, and that means that they’ll be more likely to use your app, and more likely to tell their friends that they are.

Beta Testing

Certain things are unavoidable when releasing your app on the market for beta testing. There might be a few small glitches, and probably some small crashes. These might be unavoidable but handling them well will change the outcome of your app’s future.

The touches of inconsistency of IOS 6’s mapping services led to a general abandonment for iPhone users trying to get from point A to point B. Since that incident caused by map errors went online, users have leaned back towards the Google Maps app, which has its own small oversights (as stated above). One way you can attract users back to your product after turbulent beta testing is with a new or exciting addition. Snapchat had a ton of problems in its early days, but after its new filters got added, people soon forgot about the glitchy spots.

Fail Whale: Agreeing to the terms and conditions

My favorite fail whale was apopular flashlight app selling the private information of its users. The security it requested was a bit high, and other apps can be doing the same thing. Selling the information of private users has caused a public backlash from cautious users who will avoid downloading an app if it requests super-user access. Avoiding excessive access requests can get your app on more phones of cautious users, and avoid isolating users. Making a great app is about helping people with their life, and showing them the new way to live. If you can do that, you have made a great app. Superb products are the first part of helping the world via technology. Taking users through your app, ensuring they can (and want to) use it, poses the next step of problems. Solving them isn’t hard, just being aware of what problems lie ahead, and proactively working to combat them offers most of the solution.

About the author

Mary Grace lives in the beautiful Boise, Idaho. She loves hiking, adventure, and loves talking about human interactions! Tweet her @marmygrace, or email  her back at marmgrace@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns.



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