While some companies update their OTT apps more frequently than others, the questions around how often OTT apps should be updated or rebuilt remain at the forefront of logistical and budgeting decisions for companies of all sizes.
User experience and churn also come into play, as the predicted 60 million households that may use your streaming service are going to have a lot of options to choose from. In short, if your app doesn't keep up, it will fail to meet user expectations.
So, how often does your OTT app need updates? When should you replace it entirely?
This article will guide you through how to rebuild your app and meet the user experience expectations of your most discerning users.
Signs Your OTT App Needs A Rebuild
With every technology comes the need for updates, and with any app, there reaches a point where these updates, patches and bug fixes have become so abundant that a full rebuild is necessary.
For example, a study by Instabug found that the top 100 grossing mobile apps averaged updates once every two weeks, which equates to at least 182 updates within a given year. Here are signs you’re ready for a rebuild, rather than another update:
1. Too Many Root Changes
Certain updates are necessary for product maintenance. However, if you find yourself or your team constantly fixing mistakes or improving within the source code, you might be better off replacing the app completely.
2. Poor Product Quality
Poor quality OTT apps don't stand a chance in the growing OTT market. If your users aren't happy with your app, they'll find a competitor that offers a better experience.
Check the quality of your app. How's the user experience? Collect in-app feedback and look at metrics. Netflix, for example, takes their viewer feedback and makes real-time adjustments based on their recommendations.
If your feedback concludes that your app could benefit from a rebuild, do it now. Do it fast.
3. Obsolete Technology
The variety of technology available will change as the tech industry changes. Your app needs to keep up.
If your OTT app is built using outdated technology, consider scrapping it and rebuilding it. Your team will have more of a headache trying to figure out how to adapt older frameworks to newer technology, which will happen with every tech update.
Here are six things your viewers want in your app’s technology:
- Ease of use
- A straightforward search function
- Availability across devices
- Ad-free experience
- Content available for download
- Menu recommendations
If you’re missing these highly demanded features, cut your losses and rebuild.
Rebuilding Your OTT App: What To Consider In Terms Of UX/UI?
Your product will be used across multiple platforms and devices and on different operating systems. It must be a reliable cross-platform and deliver a consistent user experience for optimal app performance.
The Three C's
These are the three key components--the three C's--that help you to achieve a more reliable user experience on your OTT app:
Composition is how appropriately the design of your OTT app suits each platform and device. For example, your OTT app design for a TV should consider a larger screen than it would for a mobile phone. The OTT experiences for the two devices are considerably different, and the design of your app needs to account for that.
Continuity is whether users can go from one device to another and pick up their viewing where they left off.
Consistency is how your user interface and design carry cross-platform.
Check out this blog article to learn more about achieving reliable user experience design cross-platform for your app.
Improving UX/UI on Your App
So, what actionable steps can you take to improve your app's UX?
The first step is simple: listen.
Scope Out And Research
UX stands for user experience, and you can't improve that without first listening.
What are your users saying about your app in their reviews? Identify their pain points and introduce solutions in your app updates.
If your users aren't leaving reviews, you can conduct surveys and user research to find out where you can improve your app's UX. For example, the web app, Canva, uses an unobtrusive popup to prompt feedback and note any issues. This allows the users to continue using the app like normal, but they have a quick and easy way to report any problems.
User research is one of the most critical phases in the product development cycle. This is where you score on your app's UX.
The second step is to simplify.
Your OTT app is as good as its user interface or UI. In other words, how easy is it to navigate your app?
If a user’s review mentions they didn't know where to find something in the app, this is your clue. You have a poor UI.
You need to make your app design more accessible and more intuitive to keep users engaged. This may include more straightforward on-page navigation (like anchored toolbars), shortcuts that accelerate viewers through their selection journey (like one-click ordering), or floating chatbots to increase support touchpoints.
Rebuild With UX
If you're serious about creating an OTT product that caters to your users and increases user retention, check out this guide to the future of app UX.
Better UX means happy users, and happy users return.
How Long Will It Take To Rebuild?
The amount of time it takes to rebuild your OTT app depends on a few factors. The most important ones include your chosen app build (Native or Hybrid) for cross-platforms, the expertise of your development team, and whether you stay in-house or outsource for app development.
It generally takes anywhere from 24-40 weeks (6-10 months) to build a complex app from the ground up. With the research portion already complete, rebuilding your OTT app will take just slightly less than that.
Some of the steps to consider when timing your rebuild are:
- Project briefs
- Idea research
- Design sprints
- Updates and improvements
- Post app-launch support
App Build Factors
Your OTT app will be used across multiple platforms, devices, and operating systems.
A native app build will provide the most optimal functionality. This ensures that each build is appropriate for the chosen platform or operating system. However, this process generally takes longer and costs more money.
A hybrid app build, using React Native, reuses code cross-platform. This is the "code once, deploy everywhere" approach, which requires less work to build and, thus, less time to complete. However, the hybrid app build compromises functionality for speed.
To learn more about which app build is right for you, check out our article on OTT cross-platform frameworks.
Your choice in your app development team dramatically influences how long it will take to rebuild it.
A shorter rebuild time coupled with a good development team can shorten your app's overall launch time.
You can choose to stay in-house for your app rebuild and development. However, outsourcing the work to a trusted OTT app development company is generally cheaper and faster for your product launch.
Rebuilding Apps In-house or via Outsourcing
The goal of rebuilding your OTT app is to produce a better product than your existing one. You want to achieve product quality while reducing the overall project cost and launch timeline as much as possible.
In-House App Builds Pros and Cons
It's not that going in-house is a bad idea. Working in-house allows for faster communications amongst your employees, who would probably embrace your OTT app more closely than a third party.
However, the process of recruiting and onboarding the right team members for an app rebuild project can be long and arduous. In addition, maintaining an in-house team requires keeping full-time employees on payroll (with benefits) for the duration of the app rebuild process. This is costly.
Outsourcing App Builds Pros and Cons
Outsourcing your OTT app work to a trusted app development company is a smart move for three reasons:
- Huge cost reduction
- Faster time-to-market
- Less oversight and management
Because you only pay for your OTT app rebuild project work, you pay for expertise only for the duration that you need it.
Instead of paying and managing an entire in-house team, you can hand off work to experts that don't require you to stand over their shoulders. Their performance and quality of work are measured upon product delivery, which is still faster than with an in-house team.
Hybrid In-house and Outsourced App Builds
Another option for app rebuilds is the hybrid approach which combines in-house teams with select outsourced teams or individuals. Select partners, like Zemoga, provide this type of service. With the hybrid model, you can, for example, augment your team with one developer who excels at Roku if your internal team has shortcomings.
Or, you can outsource an entire cross-platform project while your internal team focuses on innovation and monetization strategies.
With all the fragmentation in the connected app space, sometimes it is just easier to combine the strategies to deliver the best possible product to consumers.
How Often Should You Update OTT Apps?
Now that you've rebuilt your app, you must keep on top of app updates.
Regular app updates help with:
- User retention
- Product maintenance
Continuous improvement to the app’s UX makes users happy, maintains your product's competitiveness, and keeps your product relevant.
So, how often should you do it?
Instabug, an app-performance monitoring software, encourages newer apps to update more frequently to retain and engage users. More established apps can update less frequently.
Update anywhere from once every week to once every month, at the very least.
Instabug also found that higher-ranked apps tended to have a lower number of days in between updates.
Use that information how you will and update accordingly.
Ready To Knock Your Competitors Out Of The Park?
Whether you need to improve your existing OTT app or rebuild it entirely, Zemoga has the resources to support you.
We help develop OTT apps on the most widely used devices and platforms using robust technologies and intuitive design.
Our proven workflow processes have helped us succeed in our collaborations with some of the top brands in the industry, including SONY, Hulu, Spotify, and ROKU.
If you already have a partial team for your app rebuild and just need a few more experts behind you, look no further. We will provide you with the industry's top digital talent.
If you need an entirely new development team to help rebuild your OTT app, we can put together a winning team for you. Our experts are here to help you launch the best OTT app in the market.
If you're ready to optimize your app for the broadest possible reach, contact us today!
Let's get started.