How to successfully relaunch an app

So you want to impress the world with major changes in your application. Or give another try to the product which didn’t meet the high expectations. It can be hit or miss. What steps do you need to take before deploying it, not to repeat the same old mistakes, lose money and really shine among the competitors? Here are 10 tips for making an app’s relaunch a success.

This list follows a more or less chronological order as some tasks have to be performed simultaneously. However, to be absolutely honest with you, it is not complete. And I don’t think it ever will, as the relaunch processes vary individually. Product specifics, company size and previous experience - they all do matter. On the other hand, this is a list of good practices, which, if paid attention to, will definitely pay off.

1. Target the downsides of your application

It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? If you do care about your application so much that you want to give it another run, you simply have to see what went wrong. Make an inventory. Non-intuitive user interface? Unattractive design? Lack of cool functionalities? Or simply bad UX, since it’s too slow? Yes, being your own biggest critic can do a lot of harm. But on the other hand, it can save your idea from drowning. And you from sinking a hell of a stake. This might possibly be this case.

2. Investigate competition

Check reviews of similar, competitive services. In fact, use some of them to learn the overall experience. How many are they? How many users does it have? What do they like about it, and what do they hate? What keywords are being used to market it? In what ways does your app differ from them and how can you leverage that? And last but not the least - how is it called? The more conclusions you get, the more it helps you adjust your product to people’s expectations.

3. Define goals and audience

Know the “WHY?” of the application. What is it supposed to do? Who is going to use it? How will you reach out to potential users? Remember: no matter how much in love you are with your idea, it’s neither only you, nor your UX team who will be using it, but other people. Hundreds of them. Or thousands. Or hundreds of thousands. Know your product’s audience. Know what are the users’ pains. Scroll internet forums. Then make user personas which will help you define the audience of your app.

4. Prioritize features

Does your application really need all the functionalities it used to have in its first run? Prioritizing features includes the following:

  • Naming the core functionality of your application. This is this very single functionality which makes it what it is. If it’s a hotel booking application, you’d probably need the list of available hotels in a particular area and, maybe, a rating mechanism.
  • Leaving the unnecessary functionalities aside.
  • Maybe it’s time to get back to the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) concept? Yes, the one of building just enough of a product to be deployed. A minimum set of features that tells you if it makes any sense to invest more… and possibly prevents you from losing loads of money. Features must bring benefits to their users. And to their inventors, too.

5. Thorough code review

Before you start your app’s relaunch, it is necessary to know what’s behind the scenes. Code review is the process that will help you estimate how much work has to be put to improve things or if it makes sense to fix this product at all. It reveals the actual condition of the code, points its strengths and weaknesses and may be this very moment to decide if you are giving it a go. A thorough code review is must in every project that we, at Prograils, take on. Does the code have an API layer? How is the code organized? Then comes the code refactoring. In some cases, you may end up extracting an entire portion of the code into a separate entity and - who knows - maybe your next big thing?

6. Review the application environment

This might seem as the logical continuation of the former point. Is the app running on an older version of a framework or language? Make sure it’s new, better version will be up to date with the latest ones. Dependencies on external data sources? What gems have been used so far? How is the app built and deployed?

7. Test, test, test

Ask your audience to beta test your app. Testing gives you a better understanding of how the app really works. For your own convenience, you should write tests before even making any changes in the code, but with the changes in mind. These tests let you know the user behavior, their most important workflows as well as give you an insight into what edge cases the app might be facing. Draw conclusions and make recommendations to direct the future of your software development.

Still have difficulties finding beta testers for your product? Use TestFlight, a platform that will help you reach them.

8. Rename

Are you bringing your app, yet with modified set of functionalities, improved user experience and a hell of a better code? Maybe its name wasn’t cool enough to attract the audience you expected? So how about giving it a new one? Of course, it’s no easy process but… do some research for frequently searched terms which correspond with your app’s goal. Then incorporate them into the new name or place it besides the brand.

Get inspired by literally anything. Steve Jobs came up with "Apple" while on an apple farm. He thought that the name was "fun, spirited and not intimidating". See the link between an ordinary fruit and top-notch technology products? Me neither. But it works!

9. Invest in new design

It’s also the perfect time to tempt your users with a refreshed design. What emotions would you like to evoke and what connotations you would like your product to have? If up till now you have been using stock pictures to illustrate your product’s benefits on landing page, press kits and social media, stop using them and hire an illustrator for custom illustrations that will add character to the way your app is perceived. Use custom graphics not only to highlight your app’s key features, but to complement the copy and enhance your marketing language.

Need inspiration? Check: Dribbble.com, Awwwards or Interfaces.pro.

10. Content is king

That’s what Bill Gates said in 1996. It’s the content you publish that draws people to your product. It’s what and how you tell about it. It’s up to this if your app’s relaunch will be a success:

  • Optimize the content to the requirements of the app store - search for keywords that describe your product most accurately, and make the app’s description as intriguing and compelling as possible,
  • Choose the internet channels to market your app,
  • Create high-quality preview content such as pictures and videos,
  • If you haven’t started yet, consider writing a blog about development stages of the product.

And last but not least: make sure your content writer knows literally everything about your application.

Wrap up

An app’s relaunch is a complex and multi-staged process in which several activities have to be performed at the same time. Software development must go hand in hand with efficient marketing activities to successfully inform the potential audience of your products availability and assets. The process must be accompanied by beta tests, which will tell you what your users like and what are their pain point regarding your product. Find ways to connect with the audience and gather their feedback even after the deployment to make your product really shine!

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Photo by Solal Ohayon on Unsplash.com