Note: This is part two of a three-part series about ongoing support contracts. Each post can stand alone, but we recommend reading the first post before diving into this one.
It’s launch-day for your brand-new app! With all the excitement, anticipation, and stress, it’s unlikely that you’re thinking about future updates or how the next phone upgrade might affect your app’s functionality and aesthetic. That’s normal. When the buzz dies down, and the first few bugs and user experience (UX) issues pop up, you’ll really wish you had a plan to handle them, though, and the best strategy is to go with an ongoing support contract with your app developer.
Why is an Ongoing Support Contract Good for My App?
In short, ongoing support contracts — also known as support retainers — provide you with consistent, high-quality app maintenance after your app launches. By paying a set monthly (or annual) fee, you have access to an agreed-upon recurring number of hours for maintaining, upgrading, and modifying your app for as long as the contract lasts. It saves you time and money and builds a relationship between your business and your technology partner.
With a support retainer, your technology partner will resolve potential issues before they turn into something that detrimental. If you don’t have an app maintenance contract, you’d need to find the problems yourself (or more likely, your customers will find them for you) and then find someone to fix it for you. That will either require going back to the original developer, who may or may not have time, or finding someone new — which means spending precious resources getting them up to speed. Throughout this process, your customers will continue to suffer because of a glitchy app or bad user experience (UX).
For a more detailed look at why ongoing support contracts are your best option, check out part one in our support contract series.
Benefits of Support Retainers for App Maintenance
Nothing kills the UX faster than an app that doesn’t function properly. With the rate at which mobile technology changes, your app needs regular builds to keep it relevant in the app store(s) of your choice. Regular app builds also guarantee continued functionality across all relevant operating systems so your users won’t get left out in the cold after their next update.
App Store Optimization (ASO)
Most businesses are familiar with the concept of search engine optimization (SEO) — the method of making sure your content is easily found by the right people when they search for a relevant topic. App store optimization is nearly identical in concept: ASO ensures that your app shows up with someone searches for terms related to your brand. Without ASO, people will struggle to find your app, causing you to lose customers.
Bugs are annoying, whether they’re the kind that bite or the kind that make your app do something unexpected. An ongoing support contract means that you don’t have to worry about bugs because your app development team will resolve them as they appear. No stress, minimal delay, just happy users. You won’t get that by going it alone.
Crashlytics (or Other Crash Analytics)
You can’t fix something if you don’t know what the problem is. Good app developers use Crashlytics to determine when the app is crashing so they can dive deeper and find the root cause. Crashlytics lets the developer see everything that might be relevant to the crash — the user’s operating system, buttons pressed, device type, etc. Without access to this kind of on-going data, you’re left in the dark.
Improved User Experience (UX)
Remember apps on the first iPhone? At the time, they seemed modern and cutting edge. Now, if you stumble across one that hasn’t been updated, it looks cheap, clumsy, and it’s probably awkward to use. With all of the time and money you’ve spent making your app the best it can be on launch day, don’t let that slowly degrade due to neglect. Screen sizes change, user expectations change, user needs’ change. Ongoing support contracts tweak the design as it’s needed, instead of waiting to do a major (and expensive) overhaul.
Privacy & security concerns addressed quickly
One of the top concerns for mobile apps is privacy. Security breaches are a constant threat; don’t let them happen to you because of complacency. As rules and regulations change, your app needs to be kept up-to-date, so it isn’t penalized (e.g., reduced ranking in searches, security warnings when used, etc.). If you have an ongoing support contract, that will all happen on an as-needed basis.
Start with your MVP and grow from there
One of the things we often recommend for new clients is to start with their most valuable product — perhaps an iPhone app or a touchscreen app — and then see where to go from there. If you have a support retainer, your technology partner can help you perfect your product, give you analytics on how it’s performing, and decide what might be the best next step. At that point, it’s simple to negotiate a project contract for the next version: Everyone already knows what’s needed and what can be copied from the first app to future apps versions.
If you’re putting the time, money, and effort into building an app, you need to have an app maintenance plan beyond launch day. The best way to ensure all your needs — and the needs of your users — are met is through a support retainer. We offer support contracts for every app we develop, as do other good app development agencies. Ongoing support contracts will be tailored to you and your app, but they all cover app maintenance, bug and crash fixes, UX updates, and any emergency support needs.
Do you have a support retainer for your app? If so, what do love the most about it? If not, what kept you from signing up?