In the rapidly changing technology market, keeping your app up-to-date is of huge importance. Instagram, Uber, Postmates, and other major players in the tech industry constantly update their apps to stay on top and make their services even more convenient and engaging.
You’ll never know exactly how your app works under conditions that you can’t predict. For instance, your app might not be able to handle 30,000 active users simultaneously since you predicted no more than 10,000 simultaneous users. So when you get 30,000 users, your app works slow and even crashes.
When this happens, you realize that you urgently need to do something so you don’t lose your users. To help our clients quickly make urgent changes to their products after they’re launched, we offer post-release support. In this article, we answer the most frequently asked questions about post-release support to explain the details of this service.
What is post-release support?
Post-release support is a separate service provided by Yalantis that enables you to enhance and upgrade your web or mobile app after its official release. By signing a separate contract for post-release support, you get a development team that constantly monitors your app’s performance, with the ability to immediately make changes to its functionality if necessary.
Why do I need post-release support?
This is the most common question about post-release support. There are several cases when post-release support is necessary:
New regulations or other legal changes
Your service may face new regulations or have to comply with new laws that have recently come into force. For instance, GDPR took effect in 2018, so owners of web and mobile apps serving the European market had to ensure that they fully complied with GDPR rules. This often involved making some changes to an app’s security and data storage. In cases like this, a quick response can help businesses avoid legal issues.
Changes to the platform or tools
There also can be changes to the platform you develop your product for or to tools that you use to build it. For instance, PayPal might update its API, so our developers need to make changes in your app’s source code to ensure that there will be no issues when processing transactions. Or there could be an update to either iOS or Android, and to make your app run on the newest operating system version you may need to fully upgrade it.
In one of our projects, Bro, we used Layer, a third-party tool to enable in-app messaging. After Bro was released, Apple unveiled iOS 11. This update to the operating system caused massive compatibility issues. The version of the Layer SDK we had used wasn’t compatible with the new version of iOS, so users with iOS 11 experienced serious problems with messaging in the app. Since messaging was one of the main features of Bro, we fixed this issue as fast as we could to prevent negative reviews and annoyed users.
[In-app chat is one of the main features of the Bro app]
Users come up with their own UX
It may also happen that your users come up with their own navigation flows and don’t use your app as you expected. In this case, you should rework your UX or add new features to prevent misuse of your app. For this, post-release support can come in handy.
Quick response to user feedback
You can start getting feedback from users with suggestions for improvements. For instance, users might start complaining about a complicated UI/UX design, in which case you should make simplifications as quickly as possible so you don’t lose users.
New ideas on how to enhance your app
You yourself might suddenly come up with an idea to enhance your app. There are no limits to perfection. Let’s say you think up a new feature that will make your app even better. In this case, we can define the scope of work and get down to development. Bear in mind that if the scope of work is large, we might offer to sign a separate development contract.
We once worked on Booth, a ready-to-use marketplace software platform for iOS. After signing a post-release support contract, our client came up with an idea to add a new delivery vendor and new payment methods. We also added deep linking that lets users share content such as photos, products, and profiles on other sites.
eCuris is another app we built that our developers continue to support. Since the initial release, we’ve added several improvements to eCuris:
1) We enhanced in-app chat. In the initial release, users were able to create a chat, send messages, and pin photos and files. We gave them more capabilities. Now, users can leave and delete channels, block and unblock users, and send several files in one message. We also added previews for links;
2) In eCuris, doctors regularly send questionnaires to patients about their general condition. After the release, we added an algorithm that automatically analyzes these responses and gives a summary of a patient’s physical and mental condition.
Post-release testing and bug fixing
Sometimes, our clients want to release an app on a particular date, so we have no time to fix all the bugs or we don’t fix them at our client’s request to cut development costs. In this case, these bugs are fixed after the release. That’s why closer to the release, we form a special bug backlog that consists of minor bugs to be solved a bit later.
Read also: Testing and Quality Assurance at Yalantis
In one case, we discussed with a client that we would develop their web app primarily for the Google Chrome and Safari browsers. As a result, we didn’t fix bugs that appeared in the Edge browser. Instead, we added them to the backlog. During the post-release support, we fixed these browser-specific bugs.
In addition, during post-release support we perform regression testing and bug fixing every time we make changes in the app.
What’s the team structure for post-release support?
Typically, a post-release support team consists of one project manager, one QA specialist, and one developer per platform. For instance, if we’ve developed an app for both mobile platforms, you’ll get one Android and one iOS developer.
At your request, a business analyst or a UI/UX designer can join the support team. To save money, we can offer to have a QA specialist, in addition to their other duties, serve as a business analyst. We recommend this solution only if the amount of work is small such that a dedicated BA isn’t needed.
[The team structure for post-release support]
When can I sign a post-release support contract?
We don’t want to leave you alone with possible problems. That’s why we offer to sign a post-release support contract before the release date. Typically, we offer it one month before the release. After signing a contract, we plan the scope in advance to avoid situations when developers have no tasks.
It’s also possible to sign a support contract shortly after the release. For instance, shortly after release you may realize that you need to add one more feature to your app. In this case we’ll make an estimate and, depending on the scope of work, suggest signing a post-release support contract or a separate development contract.
For how long can I sign the contract?
You choose the duration of support, but our post-release support package starts from two months. You can also choose whether your support team will work full-time (which comes out to 155 hours per month) or part-time (75 hours per month).
What does the development team do when there’s no need to make changes?
Let’s say that everything works well and there’s no need to make changes. Does that mean your developers do nothing? Even if you don’t need any urgent functionality changes right away, your support team can perform refactoring and ongoing code reviews, which allows for smoother project upgrades and scaling in future.
As a part of post-release support, code refactoring is the process of simplifying and clarifying the design and architecture of existing code without affecting its external behavior. This helps a lot in constantly improving the quality of your product. Our team reviews the code and thinks about how to make it more readable. After we’ve made changes, we test that nothing has changed in the app’s behavior. With the help of refactoring, we get more maintainable and scalable code, which means it will take less time to implement new features and make future changes.
Post-release support is ideal when you want to quickly add new minor features to your app after its release or alter it in response to the rapidly changing technology market.