As someone who deals regularly in apps, I’ve seen quite a few in my day.
I’ve dealt with my share of crappy apps.
That were buggy and jankalicious.
Jankalicious: the condition of being inferior or dilapidated.
Chock full of unnecessary features and functions.
Or just downright useless.
On the flip side, I’ve beheld loads of well designed apps.
That seamlessly blend form with function.
Buttons and navigation built with adult humans in mind.
And not wee-fingered halflings.
And don’t require a PhD or savant to figure out how to use them.
But both good and bad apps have something in common.
Every once in a while, they require a fix.
Or an update to improve speed or performance.
Or a tweak to make them more compatible with an updated OS.
I’m sure you’ve noticed the counter in the top right corner of the App Store icon on your iPhone.
Alerting you to updates available for the apps you’re rocking.
If you’re like me, you ‘Update All’ without thinking about it.
The behavior is so rote by now, that most of us don’t read the ‘What’s New’ copy accompanying any of these releases.
We take it for granted that we need whatever the update is.
So we download it.
We’re not going to spend the precious few seconds required to read what the update is actually for.
Before my Jailbreak, I’d ‘update all’ without a moment’s hesitation.
I typically ignored the ‘What’s New’ text, which (should have) spelled out what was bundled in the update.
Usually, it was some generic ‘Bug fixes’ language that gave no further info about the nature and extent of the fix.
But since it was a fix…
Today, though, I broke with tradition and read the ‘What’s New’ section.
I wanted to see what tinkering was taking place under the hood.
I was curious to see which of these brands used their update to provide comprehensive information about how their app was being improved or what exactly it was they had fixed.
And who was just faking the funk.
HopStop was, by far, the most informative.
Not only did they tell me exactly what was new, but also that I’d need to upgrade to iOS 6+ in order to take advantage of the new features.
Basecamp was the next most informative.
Their ‘What’s New’ update informed me about support for Basecamp Classic (it’s about time!), and had a few quick blurbs about the specific bug fixes included in the version.
Square the least informative.
Their’s was the bland ‘various bug fixes.’
Nothing more. Nothing less.
Square, you make me sick.
Most brands are like Square and completely miss the opportunity to truly inform their users about what’s going on.
Their’s is usually a cut-and-paste job of some developer’s uninsightful version-controlled update republished to their users.
Now, when I see ‘Bug fixes’ as an update, I automatically think ‘lazy brand’.
Best practices dictates that when there’s an update to your app, you provide the salient details of that update to your users.
‘Bug fixes’ is simply too generic to be useful.
If a user was experiencing a bug with your app and got that update, there would be no way for them to determine whether your ‘Bug fix’ was the one they’d observed or something entirely different.
More importantly, it completely flubs the chance to connect with the user and turn them into informed brand evangelists.
So <brand who uses ‘Various bug fixes’ to describe updates to your app> know that you’re doing yourself a grave disservice by not providing more substantive updates.
Don’t your users deserve more?
Note: I’ve got to give credit to one of my pseudonymous colleagues, Mr. Kate Moss, who urged me to write this point to address something we routinely observe.