If you use Heroku or Appharbor to develop and deploy apps, you can easily send your data to our ELK stack for storage and analysis using our log drain capabilities. But what kind of data should you be storing and analysing as an app developer? Developing and deploying a successful app can clearly be quite different to running a conventional business, so it’s important for app developers to understand how they can use data storage and analysis in a way that’s relevant to them.
First of all, it’s advisable to gather data on the way people use your app. Whether your app is still being tested or has been fully launched, it’s important to understand how your customers behave when using the software so that you can improve it (either before releasing it or by using post-launch updates). If your app has multiple functions, you should consider gathering data on which function your customers use most often and which they ignore: the functions they focus on could benefit from expansion, while those they ignore may need refinement to make them easier to use or understand. This type of data is easy to gather: you can simply record the number of clicks each function on your app attracts. You may also wish to record the number of times individual users return to particular functions. Just remember that you should always be upfront with your customers about gathering data on how they use the app to improve their experience. Most users will be happy to let your app gather this kind of basic information if allows you to refine the app later.
If your customers have to pay to download or use your app, you should also experiment with different pricing models and gather data on how many people download or access it at different prices. If your app is priced too low, prospective customers may dismiss its potential, but if it’s priced too highly, they may consider it too much of an investment. It’s therefore important to find a price that’s right for your app. If your app is free (either because it’s part of a larger business model or because it’s supported by some other means), it’s still important to gather data on how many people download and access your app: you just don’t need to worry about how it correlates to pricing.
Finally, you will undoubtedly use different methods to market your app. It’s vital to record data on how many people find and access your app because of different forms of marketing. This is easy to do with online marketing campaigns (including banner headlines, back-links and promotional SEO-optimised web-pages), because all you have to do is measure how many people click through from each form of advertising. Analysing this data will allow you to see which forms of marketing work best for your app and focus your campaign accordingly.
Our ELK stack currently uses ElasticSearch 2, Logstash 2 and Kibana 4.2, so that you can store, organise and visually analyse data as efficiently and securely as possible. If you’re developing an app (either as part of a wider business or as a standalone venture), there’s never been a better time to unlock the power of your data!