About 12 hours after I wrote this TestFlight [updated their blog] with an apology and information about the downtime, so a plus there. On the other hand, it pays to keep users in the loop even whilst downtime is occurring. In the future maybe TestFlight could consider some sort of status page a la Twitter et al.
How not to communicate with your customers
TestFlight went down today. TestFlight is a development tool used by iOS developers to ease the pain of distributing beta versions of apps. Because (I assume) the company is US based, and because the downtime seemed to occur at about 12AM PST, it went unfixed for a good eight hours or so.
Now, TestFlight is free, for now. A free service going offline for a few hours is nothing to write home about. On Twitter some people were getting quite indignant, but the old adage holds true - “you get what you pay for”.
However, TestFlight also isn’t a charity. They need users to make money, whether it’s through selling premium packages in the future or through some other business model. Users don’t like unreliable sites - so you’d expect TestFlight to be fairly up-front with their users about what exactly went on.
No such luck: TestFlight’s twitter account and blog are resolutely silent on the matter - no mention of any downtime at all. They’re in complete denial. Some users are understandably frustrated, and many are looking at alternatives:
Anyone have experience w/HockeyApp over TestFlight? Really unhappy with TF and want something more reliable.Hesitant because of big move— Mel Gray (@melgray) April 23, 2012
Again, I don’t think people inherently expect a free product to be flawless. But they do expect some communication: some acknowledgement that there’s actually a problem, and what will be done to prevent it from happening in the future. Hopefully in the future TestFlight will think about how best to leverage their corporate communications to help, rather than frustrate, their users.