Is Your Half-Baked App Going to Fail?

Probably. Don’t take this the wrong way—I don’t want to discourage any aspiring app developers—but the launch of an app will have a heavy impact on its future success… or complete and utter failure. This doesn’t just mean an app’s functionality, but also its design, marketing, branding, etc. Don’t launch until you and your app are ready.

I’ve just come across Browserling, a new web app for cross-browser testing, a promising idea for an app but, in this case, a poorly executed launch that may lead to its early demise. Here’s why.

Browserling’s Promising Idea

Cross-browser website testing within a browser is certainly not a new idea, but it has a significant number of ways it could be improved and taken much further to provide a more complete solution. Browserling wants to do just that, offering more than just screenshots of your site within different browsers.

Browserling

Browserling

You’d be able to interact with the site you’re testing and quickly switch between different browsers or browser versions. So, the idea is promising and there are few other apps offering this so it has potential to succeed.

Premature Launch

Launching an app before it’s entirely ready is done pretty frequently, especially on the web. It’s commonly referred to as a beta release, which often times will be restricted to a select group or limited number of users. However, there’s a big difference between a beta release and one that’s half-baked.

For starters, the app needs to, at least, at its basic level. In the several times I tried Browserling, the app did not once successfully perform its most basic task.

Browser Test

Browser Test

Next, if you include something the website about your app, you should actually have content there. For example, Browserling mentions “upgrading to a paid plan” in several places but doesn’t actually offer any paid plans. The app is entirely free at the moment. Pricing shouldn’t be mentioned at all until you’re actually ready to offer paid plans or include information about your future pricing plans.

Pricing

Pricing

Aside from app functionality and missing or misleading content, the appearance and marketing of the app should be carefully handled. If you put only a small portion of your energy into getting a site put together and creating some fun YouTube videos for your app, you’ll leave a bad taste in people’s mouths and they won’t care to come back to your site again.

In Browserling’s case, the overall design, while fun and creative, was not whole heartedly created. The overall design of both the site and the app just gives visitors the indication that the developers rushed out the app to share their excitement before things were actually ready—a mistake many have made before.

Often times the quality of design of the website presenting the app will be a good indication of the quality of the app itself. If you spend the time to create a great app that functions well, you’re most likely going to do the same for the materials used to present the app to the public.

Learn From The Pros

While the excitement of your app can be nearly unbearable and you’ll want to share your new baby with the world right away, you’ll need to restrain yourself or, at the very least, release it in an appropriate manner that really lets people know the app is still in its early concept stages.

Tons of web apps are released every day, although we don’t hear about many of them because their developers aren’t pushing their release for attention from the masses. Once the app has reached an appropriate level of maturity, the developers might focus their energies on a well designed public website and marketing materials for the app.

Google Labs

Google Labs

Take a look at a few big web app organizations like Google. Evaluate how they go about releasing apps and app features (Google Labs).

Final Thoughts

I’m sure the developers of Browserling are very excited about their project and wanted to share it with others right away. I hope, however, that the app’s premature release doesn’t bring it to an early demise. I was pretty disappointed to see how the app launch was executed though and I can’t imagine how many other people won’t return to the site in turn.

So before rushing your app to the eyeballs of the public, evaluate your launch plan and make sure both you and your app are ready.


Responses

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  • I am currently looking to launch a web app with my co-founder so good to know that the decisions we have made about launching (some you have mentioned) are in the right direction.

    When launching a web app I think its very much important to consider the user experience from the outset even if it’s beta! Releasing a poor beta will only push potential user’s and early adopters away with a negative opinion of the app which they may hold onto for the life cycle of the app.

  • Good Article… kinda depressing to face reality, but it’s important to realize that success isn’t easy.

  • I can tell you are not a developer. From a technology perspective the dudes running browserling are doing some exciting things. It might not come across in their beta launch but the kinks will be worked out soon enough and dismissing them like this reflects more on you than the guys running browserling.

    • Absolutely correct, I’m not a developer. However, from the perspective of someone who evaluates web apps for a living, the way their app was launched will turn away potential users that may never come back. The stage of launch the app is in can hardly be considered beta, maybe more of an alpha release and should’ve been made clearer that it’s a very early release, not necessarily an app ready for full-on public testing.

      That being said, I don’t feel I dismissed them as much as pointing out the mistakes they made in their app launch. I have high hopes for the Browserling developers and the apps they’re creating.

    • David, all your comment did is serve to reinforce his original point that developers can often be clueless when it comes to considering potential users.

      You missed the point entirely and in a very ironic way. The fact that he’s not a developer makes him MORE qualified to evaluate web apps from a user perspective not less. The whole point of the article was about a users perspective, which is ultimately what determines the success of software.

      This is what separates code monkeys from Software Engineers. I can “tell” that you are one of the former.

  • Great article. I tried the site before reading this article and could not agree more. Way too early to be showing off an unfinished product.