How awesome is your iPhone app, really?
As programmers, we get so wrapped up in seeing an app evolve from a vague idea into into a real game that we often miss a critical element of the process — user feedback. It’s essential for you to get your app into the hands of people as early as possible (even earlier than you think!) to get feedback from them. It’s been said that “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” — and while our end user/test subject certainly isn’t the enemy, it’s pretty likely that they’re not going to use the app the same way that we would. The longer you’ve worked on something, the more it becomes second nature — just like years of Photoshop use builds a strong and fast proficiency with Photoshop, all the time you’ve spent working on your app will often blind you to basics or things you missed (like the word “test” in the text field for the user to enter some data — oops).
How do we get the feedback?
Spend time watching them play your game or use your app — chances are very good that they won’t use the app they way you built it to be used or intended it to be used. Telling them what to do and how to do it is cheating — resist the temptation! Don’t just watch the app and what they’re doing — spend time watching them, looking at their facial expressions, body language, etc. If they get stuck, of course, help them out, but if most people are having trouble with one issue in the app, regardless of how well you think that feature works, you probably need to revisit it. They’re the customer, not you.
If you don’t ask, you won’t know
You need to be specific with your questions, like:
- What was confusing?
- What was enjoyable?
- What else would they like the app to do?
- Was there any part that they really didn’t like?
These are hard questions to ask, and even harder to objectively listen to the answers, but it’s critical that we do this. The more you do this before your app is released, the better off you, your app and your customers will be. If you’re the only one who ever has hands on the app before it goes out, I guarantee that it will not be nearly as intuitive to your customers as you think it will be.
Who do you ask for feedback?
The best feedback comes from people that may not even own iPhones or play games. I had some great suggestions from people who don’t normally play games (by their admission) about my Sparky the Road Clown game. I also had some great suggestions from some hardcore gamers and some pretty casual ones as well. Try to get a variety of people to give you input. The more, the better.