Decathlon Outdoor develops top-rated apps for outdoor enthusiasts, bringing the best campsite maps, navigation tools, hiking trail guides, and more right to the users’ fingertips. Highly rated, user-oriented technology brings the natural world within reach to the modern adventurer.
The engineering and development team at Decathlon Outdoor had its own summit to conquer as leadership laid out lofty expectations for app performance, quality, and ratings. The team needed to improve the app’s user experience, reduce crash rates, and make the app one of the top-rated in France within a six-month timeframe.
Maxime Harter, Engineering Manager, shares how the Decathlon Outdoor team of developers integrated Instabug’s crash-reporting and application performance monitoring capabilities into its workflow to reach its performance goals.
Every app depends on user interactions to grow, but user contributions are especially paramount for the success of Decathlon Outdoor’s community-based apps. The eponymous app, called, “Decathlon Outdoor,” lists 25,000 hikes shared and evaluated by the community of hiking enthusiasts who have enjoyed those trails in France. The app’s users share tips, guides, points of interest, and more, meaning the user experience needed to be flawless to both build the audience and encourage further user contributions.
The users also leverage the app to collect information and accrue loyalty points valid at the Decathlon store (loyalty program of DECATHLON), If the app crashed during a session, users would lose valuable access to GPS functionality, points opportunities, and more. Not only could their users find themselves lost on their hiking adventure without critical GPS functions, but Decathlon Outdoor risks losing that user altogether if the app crashes.
The app development team had already mapped out some great ways to open the app to a wider audience: by making the app free and providing incentives for contributions and app use, it had set a course for high user engagement. But that course was proving fairly rocky as reviews started to roll in and users began complaining about crashes. The team worked to resolve those crashes, racing through each release cycle and hoping to avoid any new errors that might slip into the next update.
Their resources were strained, but the objective set out for Decathlon Outdoor was straightforward, according to Harter: “Our goal is to have the best quality apps.” A seemingly simple goal, but in such a competitive industry, achieving top ratings can be a tough and treacherous hill to climb.
To reach the performance objectives set by the executive team, developers would need to find a way to improve the app’s perception, App Store reviews and ratings, and overall Apdex score. The clear path to boosting all of these metrics, engaging more users, and increasing the app’s visibility was enhancing the app’s performance, but with such a short timeline, the team needed a robust strategy and agile toolkit to track performance improvement.
Initially, Decathlon Outdoor used another tool to track some key performance indicators. But the information it offered was falling short, leaving the team unable to pinpoint app issues and preventing fast fixes. Crashes were affecting the user experience, and users were making that clear in app reviews. It became evident to the mobile team that it lacked a full picture of the app’s performance; it was missing key elements of the user experience. The team needed a more detailed view of the performance challenges it was facing and how it was going to reach the target KPIs within the six-month timeline.
With only limited data available on app performance and no clear workflow, isolating the root cause of those crashes and assigning the bugs and crashes to the right team just wasn’t possible. While the app Decathlon Outdoor created was excellent for navigating all kinds of routes, the team didn’t have a GPS for its own workflow in place yet.
Harter explained the challenge his team faced: “There were two main points: we wanted to be able to send to one person, one specific crash, which we couldn’t do before, as well as the context of the crash. We had this crash, but why was it happening? What happened before the crash?”
Crashes of all types—app launch, foreground, and background crashes—drag down both performance and stability scores for any app. Decathlon Outdoor’s developers had numerous questions about their crashes.
Unfortunately, mobile app users are notoriously impatient when it comes to crashes. According to a study, 53 percent of mobile app users uninstalled or removed a mobile app with severe issues like crashes, freezes, or errors. With the app’s crash-free session rate well below the team’s targeted goal, they knew it would be an uphill battle without the right information and tools to improve the user experience.
When the team realized it needed more functionality and answers than its current data platform provided, Harter began searching for a new solution. Engineering leaders knew they wanted a more streamlined solution, with more in-depth data available to all teams.
“We wanted one place where the dev team could find the crash and bug reports, and the product team could find information on app quality. That was going to help us reach the best-quality app,” said Harter. “I made a benchmark with my colleagues, and we all chose Instabug.”
Team leadership turned to Instabug to empower the Decathlon Outdoor team with the data and tools it needed to better diagnose crashes and boost performance.
The team quickly centralized around Instabug’s Apdex score to track the app’s overall performance and improvement. Apdex scores divide app sessions into four buckets—satisfying sessions, tolerable sessions, frustrating sessions, and crashing sessions. The Apdex is calculated by dividing the satisfying and tolerable sessions by the total number of sessions, including crashed sessions. The more crashes that occur, the lower the score will be; an Apdex score of less than 0.7 usually points to performance issues that are negatively impacting user experience. This one metric allowed the team to understand at a glance how it was doing and track progress.
One of the most noticeable changes for Decathlon Outdoor was the organization that Instabug’s dashboard brought to their workflow. Harter noted that, “Before Instabug, we didn’t have a workflow.” With a single centralized location for app data, developers could now quickly assess which situations needed their attention most urgently and strategize best solutions faster.
Harter and his team began seeing changes in the pace of projects immediately. “The stacktrace is more precise than what we were using before, and the context of the crashes is better. [Instabug] has more information, and the more information you have, the quicker you can make a fix.”
With Instabug reports, logs, and comprehensive crash reports, developers could now recreate the environment that led to the crash. Using Repro Steps from Instabug, they could view details including:
- Understand the usage of metadata
- Date and time of crash occurrence in UTC
- App version
- OS version
- App view
- Device location
- Session duration
- Screen resolution
- Screen density
The team at Decathlon Outdoor could now customize its dashboard with the metrics most imperative to its goals and success. This allowed the team to view details as soon as it received an alert, then use Repro Steps to reproduce a bug by displaying the users' actions in each view of the app. With each view, a list of actions tells the team exactly what the user did in that environment, including UI interactions, lifecycle events, and any other pertinent details.
Decathlon Outdoor was determined to meet its performance goals to improve the user experience and continue building new features for its users to enjoy. Decathlon Outdoor set up automated reports so Instabug sends real-time crash alerts to the appropriate teams, providing details developers didn’t have before to identify and address the root cause of an issue.
“Now we have all of the information about the device and the network requests we had before the crash—everything to understand why we crashed,” said Harter.
Instabug now reports to Decathlon Outdoor’s team exactly which line of code caused a crash, expediting the resolution process by aggregating crashes based on severity and frequency. Developers can then focus on issues Instabug assigns them through customized alerting, reducing the noise that could otherwise disrupt an efficient workflow. Leadership can quickly and easily assess and prioritize projects, whether there needs to be a focus on crash fixes or there’s room for feature expansion.
Observing how app performance changes over time can provide meaningful direction and strategy insights for the entire team, all the way from developers to leadership. By understanding the app’s data, analyzing its overall performance, and reducing the mean time to resolution, the goal of becoming a top-performing app became much more tangible for Decathlon Outdoor.
Using measurable KPIs, such as the percentage of crash-free sessions and Apdex score, Decathlon Outdoor began seeing trackable performance improvements immediately; those positive results are showing up in user reviews almost as quickly as the real-time data shows up in the app dashboard. With users now touting the app’s improved stability, the path toward Decathlon Outdoor’s top-rated goal is much clearer.
Tracking the Apdex score and other performance indicators on the dashboard has allowed teams to adjust priorities more rapidly. As the Apdex score continues to improve, the mobile team has been able to focus on building out new features and expanding capabilities, allowing Decathlon Outdoor to reach unprecedented heights in performance and audience scope.