Lots of blogs and articles discuss the latest and greatest mobile Apps but not many talk about the story behind the development.

We at Organise Ltd developed JobFinder, a free iPhone App, back in March 2009. The App was the result of a decision to expand our knowledge of the mobile software arena by looking at commercial applications. As our first foray into the iTunes world we didn’t know what to expect. The App was approved by Apple within two weeks of submission. Not long, but it felt like an agonising wait. On release we were surprised and delighted when the first few downloads began. We began to determine if friends and family owned an iPhone or iPod touch, so we could ‘encourage’ them to download it, (hey, its free anyway!). Sadly not many of them are that tech savvy or inclined towards expensive phones.

As the weeks and then months rolled by we found the number of downloads and reviews increased. Without any action by us, users were taking and utilising our software. It gives you a great buzz to know people like what you have produced. However the ability to view the stats provided through the Itunes App store brings its own issues. As well as the great worded reviews we also had one star ratings and thats were the crunch starts.

Questions get raised regarding that 1 star rating; “Didn’t they find any jobs?”, “Didn’t they like the layout or colour scheme?”. Even “Are they from a rival developer?”. The way the App store is configured teases you with a hint of information but not enough to enable you to refine your product. There is no opportunity to enter into a dialogue with the users to establish improvements or determine their issues. As a developer you just have to continue to add the features and functionality you believe are necessary and sit back and await the results.

With the introduction of JobFinder into the USA market recently the situation is now increased two-fold. “Does the American market have different needs and desires to the UK market?”. “Do the American people like to see different functionality or prefer a different layout?” and that real crux point ” Why does nobody write a review or contact us to tell us what they think?”. Is this common or are we unique?

The lastest version of JobFinder (v1.1) now contains analytics. This can at least give us some help in determining the usage of the App, but it still doesn’t allow for any critiques to be answered. In a world where people can tweet about your company or product, and you can pen a response in seconds, it seems strange that such a popular environment as the App store doesn’t allow the developers the same luxury. Where is Apple’s mini forum for developers and customers to enter into dialogue?

The stats can’t be ignored. They pull you in like an email ping, willing you to look. But we shouldn’t get hung up on the 1 stars and should just continue to strive to make our App the best we believe it can be.

If any other developers out there are thinking of creating their first App be warned. The monitoring of stats can become addictive, but don’t take it personal, and a great pride can be gained from your labours, if not great profit.

Footnote: JobFinder is currently at number 4 in the UK top 10 free business Apps and number 42 in the USA.