Hey, Shopify App Developers, Get Your Apps Off My Live Site (At Least For Now)

By Rumen Dimitrov • 4 min read

What do you think when you get the message “buy this product now” 4 times from your store’s live chat app? First I thought the person sending it was nuts. Then I realized they expected the chat to have a bot-assistan.

Reviewing the chat messages from the past year for my client, I realized more than 50% of the requests were made in the hopes of reaching a chatbot. The other 25% could be easily answered with an automatic response.

It was time to graduate from the current chat app and upgrade it to something more intelligent. Seeing how many options were out there, I limited my research just to the Shopify App Store.

Ten minutes later I got 3 apps shortlisted. Now it is time to test them!

If possible, I’d like to compare the apps on the site of my client, evaluate which one fits the needs of his visitors the best and not break the functionality of the existing app that currently working ok.

Replacing an app makes me twitch

Installing a new chat app just showed a new chat widget next to the old one. On all themes. Published and unpublished. And there is no way to turn that off so that I don’t confuse the people on the site right now.

Now that’s annoying!

Why Store Owners Feel Unease With New Apps?

My job is to understand merchants and their customers. Having an app drop on your live store directly is unacceptable from both sides—as a store owner you wouldn’t put a half-baked, unconfigured solution live in front of your traffic, especially when you have an alternative one running. As a site visitor you would be confused the least. When your message gets lost you’ll be annoyed.

High–trafficked stores always have people live and browsing. On such a store you don’t play with the published theme—that’s insane and it is costing you money. Coincidentally, high-trafficked stores could easily justify paying for an app, compared to small stores where the stakes of working on the live theme are less.

Yet, the initial experience of most apps is designed for stores with low to non-existing traffic.

Implementing changes should be done on a staging theme, away from visitors’ eyes until you are ready to publish the feature.

If I were a store owner, I wouldn’t want visitors to see a broken store with two chat apps at the same time! I don’t want to have to put the site into “maintenance mode” just so I can test a new app.

What happens if a visitor uses one of the two chat apps while I’m playing with its settings and end up uninstalling it in desperation 10 minutes later? The message will be lost. The sale will be lost. The customer will be gone. There—the app is costing me money before it makes me any.

The Store’s Brand is Everything

That’s one thing I would be extra careful about. Broken store functionality hurts the perception of my brand. An app may change the store and make it look broken even if it isn’t—just by showing up at the wrong time.

Now that’s annoying.

Having A Free Trial Is Not Enough – I Need A Preview Mode That Isn’t Live

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could not only test-drive an app but restrict it to unpublished themes only? Have the time and attention to look at app settings in context, set them up to our liking and then deploy on the live site?

Shopify Admin Panel Themes’ section does it right – you can customize and preview themes before you publish. Why can’t we have this with apps, too?

Shopify App Developers—I believe in you!

As an app developer myself, I know it is possible. I know you can do it. Don’t blame it on the Shopify platform, please!

Building an on/off switch in your app is faster than waiting for Shopify to implement this globally.

Harder than doing nothing, I know.

Lower in priority than adding a new shiny feature to the app, I know.

But this would help more people safely test, compare and fall in love with your app. Especially merchants with big stores.

So, please, just let me hide your app for a while (at least from the live theme)! Is that too much to ask?

If you’ve read this far, you’ll like my guide to discovering missed revenue opportunities on your Shopify store!

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    Rumen Dimitrov