Wow, I don’t need to look at the national forecast to know that there’s hardly any bad weather going on today…. I know just because of the lack of emails, comments, or debug data on the app. Downloads of the free app have dropped off today too.
And it feels like all the air has gone out of my tires. I just sat kind of blankly staring at the screen for a while last night trying to figure out what to do next. I’ve been very much in emergency-fixit mode the last few days, so to suddenly have a lull was a bit surprising.
I *think* the app is better now. I made some changes to how the timer is reset, and to how the alerts list is queried. It’s a little more brute force, not as elegant, but at this point I’m going for “it works”.
So what are the major lessons learned here?
- I should have put out the free version and worked out the bugs before putting the pro version out, or have put out a *beta* version first. The fact that it didn’t work when people needed it to caused my rating to get hammered. I tested this app for weeks…but my test environment, emulator or not, is simply no match for being tested simultaneously by 5k people in a real-world environment (duh). I should have fully instrumented the app and given people a “send data” button when things went wrong.
- People don’t like the in-your-face “buy the pro instead” part of the simple app. When there were limitations (couldn’t add a new location, couldn’t see all alerts) it would say to buy the Pro app instead. It is perfectly fine to have limitations in a free app, but they probably shouldn’t be so blatant.
- People don’t like multiple updates a day. This was definitely my fault, and related to the buginess above. But one particular update, I KNEW I had a bug in the code, but before I got back to my PC I had forgotten about it and published the update. DUMB! I had to do an “emergency” update and beg people to fix it so they could get notifications again. My previous experience with writing code for individuals usually involved like 5-10 people, so zipping out a new, fixed version was no big deal. When you’re talking this many, you really need to control what and how you put stuff out.
- People REALLY don’t expect to hear back from the app developers. The first emails I got, when I replied to them, they were honestly shocked that I did, and how fast I did. Well, I’m “lucky” to have the time right now to sit here and wait for emails (while adding to the app) so that’s why I’m so responsive. But I LOVE getting emails about the app and responding with people. In the future (I hope) I won’t be able to respond so quickly, but I certainly still will respond. In the future future, I hope sitting here respond to emails about my apps is ALL I do!
I don’t regret the experience at all so far, I’d just say I was pretty naive. But then, that’s kind of expected when embarking on a completely new experience.