Is fragile software harming your user retention?

The importance of resilient software in relation to user experience and retention

Tue Jul 18 2023

When it comes to keeping users engaged and coming back for more, nothing beats a software system that can handle the heat and deliver a consistently delightful experience. So, let's strap in and explore why resilient software is a game-changer for user retention.

Expectations of a smooth software experience

People have grown accustomed to software that just works. Your users don’t even notice that your software is working as they expect a seamless experience, where everything works like a well-oiled machine. However, when things don't work as expected frustration creeps in, leaving a lasting impression and potentially driving users away. Consistent uptime is a key factor in retaining users' loyalty and preventing them from seeking alternatives. All businesses have competitors and therefore users have options. If your software system experiences regular downtime, users won't think twice about abandoning ship and seeking greener pastures. By investing in resilient software, you're investing in the user experience, making it a top priority to keep your users happy and engaged.

Tip of the iceberg

You're using a software application, and suddenly it goes down. Annoying, right? Well, inconvenience is just the tip of the iceberg. A system failure can have serious consequences, potentially impacting revenue streams and even compromising user health in certain contexts. Whether it's an e-commerce site, a healthcare application, a bank, or anything in between, downtime is never a good thing. It’s sometimes critical, and always at least a buzzkill that can lead to frustrated users jumping ship.

WTF is going on?

Imagine navigating a software system where information seems to change its mind more often than a chameleon changes colour. Inconsistent data is a recipe for user confusion and frustration. Users rely on accurate and up-to-date information to make informed decisions and trust the system they're using. By providing a consistent and reliable flow of information, resilient software ensures users can rely on the data they interact with, maintaining trust and engagement.

Not all software systems require immediate consistency though. For certain scenarios, eventual consistency can be a viable approach and is often preferred from a technical point of view in a distributed system. By carefully considering the level and timing of consistency required, you can strike a balance that aligns with your users' expectations. It's crucial to communicate transparently about the degree of consistency provided, aiming to make it as seamless as possible and also ensuring users understand and accept any potential delays or discrepancies.

Frustrated software user

How to keep your users’ trust

Graceful error handling

I’m not saying things never go wrong. Errors are an inevitable part of any software system, but how you handle them makes all the difference. Instead of presenting users with cryptic error messages or leaving them in the dark, resilient software takes the high road. Sometimes you can handle errors silently and recover from issues without the user ever knowing. Otherwise, display meaningful and useful error messages, guiding users through issues and offering solutions or alternatives. By gracefully handling errors, you can better manage expectations, empower users to overcome obstacles and maintain their trust in your software.

Modularisation can minimise breakages

One small breakage shouldn't bring down the entire show. By breaking features into modules within your software you can ensure that a glitch in one area doesn't cascade and cause a catastrophic failure. Modularised code makes it far easier to maintain, particularly in big teams and large software systems. This approach allows you to isolate issues, fix them swiftly, and minimise the impact on the overall user experience. Having well organised code can even prevent creating bugs on the first place.

Observability, Monitoring, and Alerting

As with any complex system, maintaining a watchful eye is essential. Observability, monitoring, and alerting mechanisms play a vital role in discovering and resolving issues promptly. By proactively monitoring your software's performance, you can identify bottlenecks, anomalies, and potential failures before they wreak havoc on the user experience. Swift issue resolution leads to happier users, improved retention rates, and a reputation for reliability.


Building and maintaining resilient software is not only crucial for a good user experience but also a powerful driver for user retention. From minimising downtime and inconsistencies to gracefully handling errors, every aspect of resilient software contributes to keeping users happy and engaged. By investing in the robustness and reliability of your software, you can build a loyal user base that sticks around.