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These metrics are fundamentally important; without them, you are navigating in deeper darkness than back in 2008.

When my team at EQATEC took the first steps toward what would eventually become our application analytics solution back in 2008—five years before Telerik acquired the company—we simply thought it would be fun to see how often an application we developed was used. We followed the number of app downloads from our web page for some time, and, aside from the few emails we received in support and the number of licenses we sold, we didn’t really have any clue about what happened with our application after it was downloaded.

Once we started to receive live data from our applications, we became addicted to refreshing the web page, which displayed embarrassingly little information. It was tremendously inspiring to everyone to aim a small torchlight into the darkness that had previously surrounded our “application usage,” and now clearly see hidden facts in the spotlight. This was a complete game changer for us.

We started wondering how you could actually run a business without such data? Who would want to navigate in almost complete darkness? Why even get up in the morning? This kind of

“Analytics for applications” would be meaningful to any web, mobile or desktop application.

This had to be something the future would embrace!

All these thoughts and dreams fuelled our efforts to build a general solution to be widely used in any software project, to collect the data and present it for easy interpretation. These goals still drive our team, and we have come a very long way.

What Metrics Should You Analyze?

If I had to start all over again and build an application analytics solution from scratch based on my current experience, I would collect the exact same metrics we started with. These metrics are fundamentally important; without them, you are navigating in deeper darkness than back in 2008. A majority of your competitors are collecting them, plus a ton of other metrics, and they know what is going on with their apps.

So what are the fundamental metrics?

  1. Usage: Software that’s never used is basically a complete waste of all the time, money and effort that went into planning, developing, testing and deploying it. What’s software that is running constantly on more and more devices? Unless it’s a nasty virus, most people will consider it a success. Measuring the number of times your software is launched (we call this the number of sessions) is a fundamental gauge of your app’s success. To understand your level of success, you can take a deeper look at the sessions. How many of these come from the same physical devices? This number gives you an indication of how many unique users you have. You can also count how many unique users you have daily, weekly and monthly, and determine how many users continue to use your app over longer periods. With this information, you can build marketing campaigns to influence usage.
  2. Errors: If software crashes or malfunctions, the only way users will continue to use it is if it satisfies a unique need in the market. More likely, you’ll see the number of recurring users will be very low. Many may try your app, but then abandon it out of frustration. Collecting information about errors that occur when your app is running outside of development is a fundamental metric. Unhandled exceptions should be collected including stack traces. Programmers have pretty good control over what happens when the app is executing, but most developers will be surprised by the number of unhandled exceptions that occur. Until you start tracking exceptions, you’ll be able to fix issues that could be detrimental to your app’s success.
  3. Environment: Does your app adapt to the physical devices that are used to run the app? Maybe your users are trying to run your app on low-end mobile devices with low screen resolution and slow CPUs? Maybe the majority use tablets? Maybe your users tend to run on older OS versions?

If your mobile app is hybrid, it can run on a huge number of different physical devices. So can your web or desktop app. An app might execute quite well on devices used during testing, but in the real world, you never know what environment your users will use.

Having data about the user’s environment can help you immensely when you plan and develop your apps. Furthermore, the same information can help you to analyze unhandled exceptions. The majority of those exceptions may be occurring on specific device types.

Analytics Support in Telerik Platform

Each of the categories of metrics discussed here can be refined, enabling detailed insights for better decision making during development. Without such data, you’d only have your gut feelings to rely on—a risky, imprecise method.

Telerik Platform includes Telerik Analytics, which enables you to monitor all these metrics plus many, many more. If you develop a mobile app with Telerik Platform, simply include the Telerik Analytics plugin in your project, and your application will automatically report metrics to shine a very strong headlight into the darkness of your app usage. Whether you develop for mobile, web or desktop applications, Telerik Analytics presents the data in a completely uniform fashion.

You can try Telerik Analytics and monitor any mobile, web or desktop app now. Simply create a Telerik Platform trial account, then create a “blank app” and “add  analytics.” Here's the documentation.

Please leave comments, questions or suggestions below. We’d love to help!


About the Author

Eigil Rosager Poulsen

Eigil Rosager Poulsen is the Product Manager for Telerik Analytics. Having founded the application analytics company EQATEC, which was acquired by Telerik in 2013, he is passionate about helping application developers collect the data needed for better decision making. Eigil lives in Copenhagen with his three daughters.

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