App Development

Testing the usability of mobile apps – A quick-starter guide on mobile UX testing

A tremendous increase in the number of smartphone users in the global market creates a huge demand for developing more mobile apps as people are spending more time on their phones. Hence, making flawless applications have become a major challenge for the makers to survive among the competitors. The primary reason for the success achieved by a mobile app is its usability offered by the application. In fact, one of the most important things that we have to consider in making a mobile application is its Usability.

Let’s explore more about Usability testing.

Usability Testing is a non-functional testing technique to measure the level of how a user is comfortable in using a particular application. It is the best way to understand how a real-time user experiences the application ie whether it is flexible in handling controls and checking its ability to meet its goals.

Main Goals of Usability Testing

The diagram shows the main goals of usability testing for mobile apps.

As a user experience designer, you have to create Usable, Desirable, Findable, Accessible and Credible applications. During the development, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Is my task quick and easy to learn?
  2. Is my task efficient to use?
  3. Does my task allow for rapid recovery from errors?
  4. Is my task easy to remember?

Answers to these questions can be found only by performing frequent usability testing on every new projects and application.

Usability testing accomplished in different phases. It is a process consist of the following steps:

Let us discuss these processes in detail.

Planning and Preparation

The testing setup for conducting Usability testing has to is designed in such a way that it should focus on how people are going to interact with the mobile application. It is necessary to think about the functional scenarios that the user might want to perform while we design the steps to execute the usability testing. It would be useful and effective if you plan and create the Test tasks that should be similar as possible to the tasks that users are likely to be trying to do with their mobile device.

Designing a Test plan is a critical stage because you can create a better framework for your testing process. So you have to care and consider the following things while structuring a test plan:

  1. Firstly, you have to identify the critical functionalities and the prime objectives of the system.
  2. Create a list of tasks or questions that a typical user should be able to complete in an hour.
  3. Determine the Usability Testing method you are going to accomplish.
  4. Define the number of participants/ testers needed to perform the test.
  5. Determine number and demographics of usability testers.
  6. Assign tasks to your testers/ participants.

One important thing you have to give thought in planning a task is “Try to keep it short and simple.” How long the test takes to carry out, more, it becomes complicated and users will be less likely to stay focused and interested. Also, the task should not be too simple or too complicated.

Add Testers/ Participants

A challenging aspect of usability testing is finding suitable participants. You have to recruit the desired number of testers as per your usability test plan. It is always better to execute testing with people outside the team who are not associated with your project. Finding testers who match your demographics and professional profile may take time. So after recruiting, check out your test plan with participants, those have an acceptable degree of mobile user experience.

Conduct Usability Testing

In this phase where Usability tests executed. You can distribute the tasks to different participants by providing them with short scenarios. Check in the application which is navigated through single-handed operations. Most users prefer to have single-handed operations because the usage of the mobile device in the real world is usually of a short session length. People typically do not do eye-tracking analysis in real-life. Therefore you should always make sure that the participants are not testing the application by eye tracking method and make them testing the scenarios completely in all usability aspects.

Another good way of executing usability testing is conducting a session. Conduct a session which includes a set of users. Introduce yourself and explain the whole process to the users. Let the users to ask questions and to perform a set of defined tasks. Make sure you won’t disclose how many steps or how long each task takes to complete it. Make the user comfortable to make comments and suggestions. It makes a huge difference if you join the design teams and developers while the users are working on the application. It gives them a clear picture of how the app was used by users and can filter out what unwanted things which have to discard from the app. You can take down notes during the session while they make comments, ask questions and suggestions. Try to include all kind of personal observations.

Analyze Test results

After completing all the tasks, collect all the Test results. Gather all kind of information as possible about the overall effectiveness of the application with the goals of each task. All these information from the usability tests is thoroughly analyzed to capture meaningful inferences and give possible recommendations to improve the overall usability of your product. And finally, you can ask the participants and the users about what they remember about the app structure and the functionality of the application. If they could able to have a clear recollection, you can confirm the app structure and functions are structured logically. The user can remember whole functions if the UI, UX, and Usability of the app is clear and perfect.

All findings of the usability test will provide basically a raw data. With that, you can create a summary report which should include all the test results and feedback from the users and participants. These reports are shared with all concerned stakeholders who can include designers, developers, client, and directors.

Apply Modifications

Gathered data will be analyzed thoroughly to come up with inference. The best suggestions and the change comments are translated into recommendations. These recommendations are further incorporated in the mobile application to improve its performance and user friendliness. Finally, the modified mobile application is retested and confirm the changes made are come into effect and not affected the real workflows.

There are many best practices to be followed while performing Usability testing.

The prime aim of Usability testing is to find fundamental usability problems before the product is launched. Here are few steps that have to be considered to make testing a successful one:

  1. Testing can be started during the early stage of design and development
  2. It’s been a good practice to check competitor’s successful product before you start development which helps to get aware of Usability Standards
  3. Include both technical and non-technical experts to do usability testing that helps to know different user experience
  4. Use a bandwidth shaper. For instance, your target audience has poor network connectivity, limit network bandwidth to say 56 Kbps for your usability testers.
  5. Testers need to focus more on the core and frequently used functional workflows within an application.
  6. Convery Designers and Developers that this testing outcome is not a sign of failure, but it’s a sign of Improvement

Usability testing can be accomplished through different ways during the project life-cycle. An app becomes successful only when it adds value to the business, and it meets all the user expectations. It plays an important part in making an application defectless. It can dramatically improve the app performance, and it can bring a lot of benefits such as:

  1. Increased consumer satisfaction
  2. Decreased training and support cost
  3. Increased productivity
  4. Reduced maintenance costs
  5. Increased sales and revenue

There are different tools available in the market for Usability Testing. UserTesting, Usabilla, and iPerceptions are some of the most commonly used tools for testing mobile apps.

We hope these guidelines help in your testing process. Please share your thoughts, suggestions, and feedback with us.