The Forgiving User

RingPack just underwent a major overhaul. With large amounts of code churn, it starts to become likely that new bugs will be introduced (especially Android’s fragmentation problem). This update was no exception — within 3 hours of pushing a live update, I saw a new crash, a few angry reviews, and one very upset email. Yikes!


There’s a powerful lesson here. Budget time to rapidly respond to user issues on a new release. Luckily, I did. The telemetry data from the Android Developer Dashboard and Google Analytics let me respond within hours.


The surprising thing is how quick users are to forgive once they realize you’re willing to work with them. Even something so impersonal as replying to their review does a lot to diffuse the situation. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on how critical your app is to the user’s life.


I was curious how quickly people would upgrade. The answer is — not very quickly.

This is 48 hours from the launch of version 8. The subsequent versions are minor bug fixes.

Roughly 700 users saw the update and gave it a try. Amazingly that’s only about 5% of the user base. I see that as both good and bad. On one hand, lazy updating means more users with a sub-par experience. On the other, it’s nice that only 5% hit the nasty crash in version 8.

In conclusion,

  • Budget time to rapidly iterate
  • Be responsive and respectful to all users (even the angry ones)
  • Love your telemetry

Following these rules can quickly reverse the damage done by a rocky launch.