Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Update wisely-and be loved(Part 1)

Users all over the world tend to see iambic as an ill-mannered company. Documents To Go 7-an uproar about why this product wasn't called v6.012. GravityBall-german users unhappy because of too many, daily updates.
-different reports and quotes from german boards and the vienniese PUG

All the cases above represent unhappy users-users unhappy with updates of the software they once bought cheerfully. An unhappy user generates fuzz-more than 100 happy users. And many unhappy users get you a place on this blog-as counterexample. To prevent you from beeing the next example, you will now find a short description of why each of the three products mentioned above failed and a few other hints too. It is not my intent to point fingers at anyone-I just want to save other developers from making the same mistakes.
1)Over-updating kills your user base (GravityBall)
Young developers-usually-are eager. They like to code and enjoy supplying their fellow users with the latest features and levels straight from the compiler. Not every release works well though. Thus a bugfix follows each release, usually followed by another release with even more features as an apology to users. Alas, a circulum vituosum starts off... While fast update cycles are ok in a CVS, they tend to annoy users. Keep in mind that the user has to visit his portal or launch his email app, download the program,... .
Many game developers think that they help their users by releasing a new level once a day. However, think of a game with 100 levels. When the developer updates once a day, game value increases by approx. 1% each time. Nobody will really feel that. When the developer updates once a week though, thats 7%. And that will be felt, beleive me! So, don't update too often-users will not feel the improvements that much and will get annoyed in the process.
Tune in on friday for the rest-look forward to the following dont's:
  • Force users to update-they will love you for it
  • Increase version numbers fast and keep your updates expensive

Until then, feel free to discuss your software updating processes.

10 Comments:

Blogger Steven Fisher said...

I believe that the critical mistake many developers make is releasing fixes only with new features. Except in rare cases, fixes should be applied not only to the new source code but back-ported to the previous major version.

Having a 1.0.2 come out after a 2.0 can be confusing at first, but it easy to explain: "If you do not want to update to 2.0 yet, upgrade to 1.0.2. If you are already using 2.0, that release already includes all these fixes." In this way, users can stick with the version they're comfortable with for a little longer.

I'm not suggesting back-porting fixes several versions. If you have 3.0 released, there's no need to release a 1.0.3. But where possible, you should give users the chance to trail the leading edge and stick with the version they've proved to themselves does what they want.

1:47 AM  
Blogger Tam Hanna said...

Hi,
you are right here-never ever update a buggy program without releasing a free fix(even if it is the next version).
Thanks for the comment(sorry for ther delay)
All Best
Tam Hanna

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