So. You’ve just invested a few months and at least five figures in developing your new app. And it looks SO good. You researched your mobile use case and found a rock star mobile designer to create a thing of beauty – an app worthy of an exclusive and coveted position on your user’s home screen.
Now it’s time to head to market…or is it? One in every four apps downloaded are only opened once, according to a Localytics study. The study also showed nearly three out of four apps are vanquished by their user after 10 or less opens. Those stats don’t foretell a rosy future for your mobile labour of love and/or the cornerstone of your mobile strategy.
Many apps fail in the hands of users because of poor QA practices. This is true of both B2B and B2C deployments. A recent survey conducted by Cap Gemini, Sogeti and HP shows that only 31 percent of organizations test their mobile applications. While your app’s success and stickiness are not determined purely by good QA, little to no testing will most certainly result in bad outcomes.
There are many different aspects to test that you should consider. In addition to the functional testing you are already doing, we’ve put together a handy checklist of the top five steps you can take to improve your mobile QA and ensure your app is launch ready.
1. User experience – You are not your market. How to use and navigate your app may seem perfectly logical to you, but will it be intuitive for your target user?
To ensure your app reflects your mobile use case and is easy to use, consider consulting with a usability expert. There are two types to consider:
Running a usability study can have a profound impact on your app, and even your company’s success, as it did for Vancouver-based Xomo.
2. Cross platform testing – 52% of companies surveyed in the Cap Gemini study said they weren’t doing mobile testing because they didn’t have the necessary devices readily available. These companies haven’t done their homework. Given the number of devices and platforms supported across carrier networks, purchasing devices is simply too expensive for many companies today. There are physical device libraries, as well as emulators and cloud-based mobile testing that leverage these libraries and connect to a large number of global operators, enabling you to optimize your testing time and resources.
3. Performance – How does your app perform on WiFi versus the carrier’s network? How does it differ across networks, such as WiFi, 2G, 3G, 3G+ and 4G LTE? Every manufacturer and mobile device has its own specs, including operating system, processing power and memory screen size.
Mobile users have little tolerance for long load times or an app that leaves them stranded with a dead battery. Pre-launch performance testing for battery consumption, application size, response times and resource utilization will save you from a world of unhappy surprises post launch. Have a look at Mobify’s post on mobile web performance – information that is also relevant for hybrid apps accessing web services.
4. Regional differences – In addition to testing your app’s performance across different network scenarios, you should also test for geographical load. Most mobile test suites will enable you to simulate large user loads from various geographies around the world, and test how your application responds.
5. Screen resolution matters – What are the most important activities that users perform with your app? Do they see this clearly when the app loads? Or are they only seeing your logo and the first half of the lovely app that you’ve created? Has this initial view pushed too many high-res images and they’ve given up waiting long before they even reach your initial screen?
There are many screen sizes, resolutions and orientations. Understanding the common platforms and scenarios under which your app will be used and how your application will respond is important to gaining and keeping your target users. Utilizing handset libraries and test platforms enable you to automate your testing across all of these variations.
Cap Gemini identified the top challenges companies face in implementing mobile test practices as:
As mentioned above, there are a variety of physical and cloud based resources available to address each of these challenges and ensure that your mobile application is launch ready.
The good news for small businesses is that many of these tools are available in a ‘pay as you go’ model. Building out your usability and test plan can be flexible and affordable.
Need to learn more? Wavefront is always happy to point you in the right direction.