At this writing it’s currently Wimbledon time in professional tennis, with all of the drama, heartbreak and athletic passion that can possibly be wrung out of a 78’x36′ court and a little green ball. The big achilles’ heel for pro tennis players is their propensity to make unforced errors: slapping an easy ball into the net, rocketing a simple ball way outside of the lines of the court, or (in rare cases) swinging at and missing the ball entirely (OK, I haven’t actually seen this happen outside of my own game).
For mobile app product owners and engineers, there’s also an entire class of unforced errors that are quite hard to spot, but that are also almost entirely avoidable. See, we’ve done a pretty solid job as a mobile app community on focusing on crashes within apps; hence the ongoing popularity of Crashlytics and Apteligent, two of the most popular SDKs on the planet. Yet most mobile app product owners don’t know what their own app’s error rate is, nor how that rate varies on mobile networks around the world.
Here’s what is captured in a mobile app’s error rate:
- Timeouts – when an app’s responses “freeze”, forcing the user to refresh or navigate elsewhere
- Images that don’t load (here’s how even a single missing image affects a mobile commerce app)
- Uploads that don’t complete
- Blank spaces where content should be
- Deep links that never open
The impact of mobile networks on these apps are the very definition of “unforced”. When a development team engineers an app to run smoothly and beautifully on 4G or Wi-Fi networks, they’re conveniently forgetting that 53% of mobile app users worldwide are actually accessing those apps from a 2G or 3G connection.
Even within countries in which 4G/LTE is dominant, huge pockets of any given country – such as in rural areas in the United States – aren’t running on the more advanced networks. These users encounter timeouts and missing images at rates of 3-12%, and suffice it to say, they don’t like it. 79% of consumers say they’ll only try an app 1-2 more times if it doesn’t work the first time.
Take a look at these two charts for some information on how to normalize your app’s error rate, and to bring it to a point in which any errors in your app are easily-correctable “bugs”, rather than unforced errors. The first step is to figure out what you app’s error rate actually is in various countries.
We can help with this – just let us know what your app’s challenges are here, and we’ll get you a free, no-obligation report on your app’s load times, speeds and error rates.