Vazer Rahmani

@vazer

Releasing An Update for Temporary Email App (Case Study)

If your app rating is less than 4.0, you have to listen to the users, they’ll guide you to the light at the end of the tunnel. — Vazer R.

In my case 2.9 on the Play Store, on January 13th, 2016, I developed an app to solve a single problem “Spam”, that’s why I created “Temp Email”, an app for creating a disposable email address.

The Facts

Since the release of the app, I haven’t done any kind of advertising, I’ve just made sure the store listing has a proper icon, images, description, keywords (ASO) App Store Optimizations.

I wanted the app to be helpful to the few people who needed it.

The Problem

6 months after the release, the app lost connection to the servers and the API in general. Then users started to complain and review angrily.

40 Reviews Above 4.0 out of 72

Simply, It’s not that I didn’t care about releasing a quick update, I didn’t have time to work on it. I was working harder on some other big projects of mine. Now that I have spare time, I want to release a full update, and by full update I mean to start building the app from scratch so I can improve the user experience, I want it to be simple, fast, light and easy to use.

The Motivation

The app has a total of 8,147 installs, 575 installs on active devices, the drop on installs is clearly because of the problems the users faced on the app since the reviews clarify everything.

At first, I wanted to remove the app from the Play Store, but when I saw the User Acquisition Report as of December 2016 showed that more than 4,400 users visited the app page on the Play Store and only 1,611 users installed the app. That leaves an acquisition rate of 36.5%, not bad for an app that has a rating of 2.9.

That what made me think of releasing a better update because I felt like the app could be more than helpful to some people.

Challenges

After a serious drop in installs, rating and users confidence, I have to gain the trust of users back, some users even made a review that the app was a fake, some even flagged the app as inappropriate, others said that the ads are way too much for an app like this. I agree with them because after all, it’s the truth, the app wasn’t working at all and the ads were annoying, the User Interface (UI) isn’t user-friendly or usable.

What needs to be done:

  • Radical changes in the User Interface (UI) and the User Experience (UX).
  • Creating a system where I can remotely control when ads are shown.
  • Fixing the back-end connection with the app.
  • New Logo, Images, Changes in the description for App Store Optimization (ASO).
  • Responding to the reviews with an apologize.
  • Adding more domains.
  • Fixing the ads with a remote trigger.
  • Adding analytics.

UI/UX Design

Let’s start or journey with the UI/UX Design, as you can see below we have the old app interface, which is a little bit outdated and not very professional.

Old App User Interface

What I wanted to achieve is a clear, simple, easy to use app, that’s why I’ve chosen a mix of 3 main colors (Blue, White, Dark Grey), the Blue is used for the layouts, White for background and Dark Grey’s for Text.

All this resulted in a clear user interface as you can see below.

Main Layout of Temp Email
Innovative Menu

There are 2 buttons in the header, the menu and the refresh button, the app automatically refreshes itself every 2 minutes, but like I said: “the user has the full authority to do anything”.

I didn’t want the menu to be as usual (swiping from the left to the right), I’ve designed the menu so it leaves plenty of space for the user to do other things such as viewing emails or scrolling.

The info shown when the menu is drawn is the user profile such as Full Name, and the temporary email address.

When the user wants to change the temporary email address or the full name he’ll click anywhere on the bar, the menu then will convert to the settings panel as seen below.

Temporary Email Settings Panel

The user has the ability to customize everything, the full name, custom email suffix and the domain name (from up to 20+ domain).

Another thing that came to my mind is the randomization technique, I have added a button so the user can generate random names from the dictionary.

Email Viewer

I’ve made sure that the user will be able to view the email comfortably by giving enough space to the email viewer and ensuring a quick transition in order to come back to the main layout.

The only info shown in the email viewer is the subject and the content, when the user wants to know more info about the email he’ll expand the subject bar by clicking the expand button.

Finding an impossible solution

As I said above, one of the main reasons behind the bad reviews are the ads shown in the app, I want to run ads but the users are complaining about them, so what should I do then?.

I found the perfect solution for satisfying the both parts (me and the users), I built a technique (function) and I called it “Remote Trigger”.

The Remote Ads Trigger’s concept is to provide the ability to control when the ads are shown according to 2 different factors, the first one is by how many emails clicks or views, the second one is with time. So I can set a number of clicks to count before showing the ads or by setting a time. As well as I have the ability to turn them ON/OFF.

The Key Store Disaster

After completing the app development it is now time to upload the app to the play store as an update.

When I tried to upload the APK, Google Play required the app to be built with the old key store of the version 1.0, I looked everywhere trying to find the old key to be able to re-build again, but I was disappointed as I didn’t find it.

What I did after I surrendered was to drop the old version and unpublish it. I built the app with a new key store and uploaded a new app with a new package name and now I started from zero.

The point from this: if you are a developer and you have published an app on the play store, keep the key store in somewhere safe in order to use it for updating your app in the future.

Conclusion

As a developer, I feel like I failed these people by not updating the app and because of my action of losing the key store, I wanted to update the app in the first place because I saw that so many people were trying to use it, but anyways I lost the users but I didn’t lose the vision of helping the people in need of a temporary email address and fighting spam.

Temp Email is now available on the Play Store!

Google Play

If you like the experience, please recommend and follow me for more articles of my adventures.

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