When products or software change, many people get upset. They want it back “the old way”. Most of the time, they get over it. After a week, you get used to the changes and the world moves forward with a better product and happy customers that realize that the change is for the best.
This was NOT the case with a recent update for my iPhone app ShakeItPhoto.
The Big Update
Version 1.3 was a big, much needed update for ShakeItPhoto. The graphics had to be redone for the Retina Display, we added the ability to process larger photos due the the iPhone 4’s five megapixel camera, and we added sharing features so you can send your photos directly to facebook and email though the app. In the excitement, I decided to also update the look a bit to make it look more like a real instant photo. I’ve always liked the look of ShakeItPhoto, but I felt it was time to update it a bit. It was a subtle change, but one I was excited about.
Well, when version 1.3 finally came out, the customers let us know very quickly that they did not like the new look. At first I thought this may be a good time to relax and give people a week to get used to the new look. I was wrong. After a lot of feedback and questions, I realized that our customers were actually saying that the new look isn’t bad, it’s just not the ShakeItPhoto they know and love. Sure, some people loved the new look. New customers had never seen the “Old Look” and were happy with it. But the overwhelming majority were not happy and they let us know though e-mails, reviews and one star App Store ratings. Our best customers had books, daily photo sites and huge projects all being made with ShakeItPhoto. We changed the core functionality of their favorite app and they were not happy.
Completely Changed the processing style that made ShakeItPhoto a great app without warning in the update notes. Photos now look washed out and low contrast with no option for original processing. Huge Letdown. – ScotScott
Lesson learned – Don’t change the formula of something that people love. We had a “New Coke” moment, and it needed to be changed back.
But this is My app, Not Yours
Here is the hardest part. I build apps that I love to use and want to use. I really enjoyed the new updated look and assumed everyone else would too. This was MY app, MY vision! I’m not gonna let a couple of loud complainers change my app, right? Besides, people can find any excuse to complain about a any new update. Making a decision like this was tough for me. Was the customer really right this time? Thinking though it all, I decided they were. I made a selfish decision that effected most of our most loyal customers and it needed to be changed.
I quickly decided to go ahead and change it back to what we now refer to as “ShakeItPhoto Classic” in version 1.4. I responded with a video over the weekend to let everyone know our decision and to explain our thoughts about why we did what we did. Video is a great way to show people that it’s just me in a room trying to make the best decisions I can to make great applications. Sometimes for customers, it’s easy to think that a company is a soulless corporation just out to make a buck. By talking candidly on video, without a script, I can really talk directly to your customers in a really cool way that isn’t possible though text.
A Passionate Community
The most valuable part of this entire process was the feedback we got from our community. We listened to the problem, quickly made a decision. and It worked. Did we make everyone happy? Definitely not. But we showed that we are listening and the community responded with great feedback, reviews, articles and tons of praise on how we handled the situation even if they did like the new look.
Having customers act this passionately about our products, even with negative feedback, is the most valuable thing we have as a company. Apps live off of word of mouth. The worst thing that could have happened would be if nobody said a thing.