Tuesday, June 9, 2009
When it comes to releasing an updated version of your software application, it's not enough to just concentrate on fixing bugs - you've got to strive to continually add value to your product with each release. Depending on your application's audience, every day can bring several competing software packages from developers that have had the time to inspect your application, mimic its useful features, and add useful functionality that it doesn't offer.
In order to stay competitive and build customer loyalty and market share, you need to issue periodic updates to your software that address two areas. First, of course, you need to resolve any bugs that may have been discovered since the last release - nothing slows an application's momentum than bugs that continue to thrive even after the developer has been made aware of them. But, just as importantly, you must also deliver new features that build on the strength of your application and make it even better.
Your goal should be to generate as much positive buzz for your new version as your original application did when it was first released. Think about how Apple does this with its music players - even though the first generation of iPods can play music just as well as the new ones, there remains a rabid hunger for new iPod hardware because Apple is committed to continually improving its user experience.
Constant improvement doesn't necessarily mean 24 hour brainstorming sessions, although that wouldn't hurt. Sometimes, all it takes to develop a substantive, meaningful software update is the willingness to listen to feedback from your existing customer base and incorporate the most desired functionality into the next version update. You may even be surprised when your users suggest features that you hadn't even thought of before!
When you do release your next software version, encourage your users to comment on the new features. In fact, you may want to recruit a trusted group of users to beta-test your new version before it's released. Take the time to document the changes in your release notes, starting with the bugs that have been worked out, and continuing with the new features (making sure, of course, to include the most requested new functionality at the top of your list).
Posted by Nico Westerdale at 3:26 PM