From day one, our philosophy has always been to focus on making something Nandocas will love. To achieve that, we’re committed to launching early and often to learn how people use the app, and then make changes to meet their needs. This allows us to iterate and improve quickly, but it also means the app won’t be 100% perfect and bug-free, at least initially.
To communicate this to our users, we use the terms ‘Prototype’, ‘Alpha’, ‘Beta’, and ‘Live’ to describe where we are on the development journey. These terms are useful shorthand to help us communicate what Nandocas can expect when using the app without resorting to using confusing and (from a user’s point of view) arbitrary version numbers like “v0.4.1”.
Building the Nandoca app is part of a conversation with Nandocas. Being clear about what stage the app is in helps give context to that conversation and set expectations.
A version of the app that can be used day to day, but requires a lot of manual human intervention behind the scenes to make it work.
For example, users can see their rota in the app but it requires a few humans to manually push some buttons to get it in there. This lets us simulate the user experience we want, even if all the software isn’t in place yet. This is important for the app team, as it helps us understand what features Nandocas need quickly, before we spend too much time building software.
A version of the app that has many features working without manual human intervention and is ready to release to a small, controlled group of Nandocas to see how it performs in the real world. At this point the app is pretty rough around the edges; Nandocas might see bugs or have problems, so we keep in close contact with them so we can learn from their problems and fix them.
A version of the app that has fully working features and is ready to release to a larger group of Nandocas to see how it performs under the pressure of many users. Though it’s more polished than the Alpha app, many of the same caveats still exist - we still anticipate some users will have problems, and we still need to collect feedback to learn and improve the app.
Once the Beta is stable and everything is working well, we declare the app ‘Live’, but that isn’t the end of the story - in fact it’s just the beginning. Analytics, user research, and feedback will reveal new needs and it’s the app team’s job to respond to them.
We'll continue working on new features to make the app more useful for Nandocas, and every major new feature will go through the same cycle of prototype, alpha, and beta releases. The whole process is built around collaborating with Nandocas to iterate, improve, and add new features so the app can keep getting better and better.