App Analytics: A quick dive into Fabric Answers

Fabric homepage

There is a multitude of app analytics platforms out there. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and can often be the difference between an app succeeding and failing. One of my favourites has got to be Fabric Answers which was created by Twitter’s Fabric team. This team has since been merged in with Google’s Firebase team — but both products continue to run and in many ways, Fabric’s tools are still a lot better than Firebase.

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Why I love Fabric

In short, it’s a pleasure to use. It’s beautiful, its simple and it really helps users to understand quickly if their app is doing well or not. The UI is also incredible — its so beautiful that you forget you are using an analytics platform. The UI pulses and moves along with the data that its receiving in real time so your analytics actually feels alive. ( Much like the product that you are tracking)

A tour around my Fabric Answers Sandbox

Whenever I try out a new analytics platform, I always try and build a sandbox so I have an area to try out new things. For Answers, I integrated it into one of the Mac OS apps that I built.

This app is called Speedy for Jira, and I use it to download all the Jira Tickets that are assigned to me — and I can also log my time to each ticket all within one interface.

I restricted the data to show just a few of the users and one of my buddies so we can get some real-time data into the dashboard. I also updated the app version a few times so you can see how it tracks across multiple versions.

Here is what the default resulting dashboard looks like after a few days of fake data. Pretty impressive. ( and why are analytics dashboards always blue?? Are they trying to make Analysts into depressives?)

As you can see above it is really proactive at showing you what the key overall indicators are — and also lets you see the main things that make sure the app is operating effectively.

Also note that it differs a lot from a regular website dashboard as it contains things like:

  • Number of crashes
  • Adoption of new Versions
  • Stability of different version numbers.

Retentions Reports

Unlike the web, where you can keep tapping up the endless fountain of users, in apps world, you have to be a bit more cautious. Users who have downloaded your apps are already pretty engaged or are looking to be, so you have to make sure you do your best to keep them onboard with you. For most utility apps you want to make sure that users are using your app regularly. If they aren’t… perhaps you should be asking if you have the right features for your app. That’s why I find myself living in the retention reports. If that starts dropping it should start setting off 🚨🚨alarm bells🚨🚨.

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Retention report for 20 users

As you can see above, Answers breaks the main audiences into the various key cohorts for you automatically. In my fake app data above — I only have one user who is in the green zone and has used my app every day for the past week. 3 people (in Red) just took one look at the app — and said yuck — and didn’t come back again. It looks like I should definitely be looking at the UI — and how easy it is to use as part of my future app plans.

But I noticed that the biggest drop off was that users, who were installing the app, were not continuing to use it a few days later. Looks like I need to dig into our engagement reports to find out why. Luckily Answers Analytics can help with this too.

Engagement Reports

Unlike Firebase Analytics which is really focused on funnels to manage your interactions, Answers focuses on optimizing towards events. It also comes with a great set of events out of the box. If you are running a game — you have a couple of key events set up for you.

The rule of thumb for most app analytics platforms ( and even Google Analytics Enhanced E-commerce for that matter) — is that you should try and match your events to the built-in events to get the maximum benefit for the analytics platform and save yourself a lot of heavy lifting.

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Answers Standard Events

For my app — I should really do a bit of work to think about what a conversion is for them. I have decided that since the app is quite new — I should focus on early-stage app metrics to validate.

  • Are people getting on-boarded correctly?
  • Are people using the features that I have built for my MVP?
  • Are there any errors that will frustrate users?
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Engagement Metrics

Even if I don’t implement any of the events, I can still get a wealth of data to understand what impact my app is having and whether I should look to trying to build features to grow my audience or find something more lucrative to do.