(Every week, Rocksauce Studios CEO Q Manning will answer your questions about app design, app development and the mobile industry.)
What bad habits do you think app developers need to kick?
The most consistent bad habit I’ve seen from other development companies is that, in order to get business through the door, they’ll over-promise what they can do for the price tag. That can leave a client in a really bad place, as they won’t get the product they were promised or it leaves the developer in an bad place, as they can’t get the project done on the budget they’ve accepted. It’s very important for a developer to look at a project realistically and be able to go back to the client and work with them to make the app work on their budget.
Have you seen a great app become a poor app through unnecessary updates?
Definitely. The classic example, for me, is a speed trap app that rose to popularity by being incredibly simple. Its initial and sole purpose was to alert drivers to speed traps in their area, but through various updates, they added feature after feature after feature and it became so convoluted that its much simpler competitors stole the market share and left it in the cold. You don’t fix what isn’t broken and you don’t add fat to a lean machine.
Here’s the inspiration for this week’s column: Where do you draw the line at push notifications?
In general, app makers tend to think push notifications are more important than they actually are. I, as a user, get annoyed by them and usually turn them off. If an app asks me if it can send my push notifications, I tend to say no! For that reason, Rocksauce tends to avoid incorporating push notifications into our work. If a client suggests it, we try to talk to them about why that may not be beneficial. If your app is going to have push notifications, it needs to have an important reason, like if the app has a messaging system. Even then, it is preferable to modify the app icon itself with a symbol than send a push. Generally, app companies use these because they want to make sure their app stays on a user’s mind so that they are continually reminded to use it. The problem is that when a user starts to get too many push notifications, they just start to ignore all of them. App developers should be very careful if they use these and should talk about this with their clients: if you push for everything in the app, no one will pay attention. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. When an important push notification comes along, no one will be paying attention.