User Experience

Why Usability Testing for Mobile Apps is Necessary

Usability testing is important, but don’t forget about mobile apps. It can be one of the most important key factors for your business' success.

Photo courtesy of Chad Madden

When you’re at the dentist, a coffee shop, or even in the office, look around and what do you see? You may see some people working on a crossword puzzle, reading, or writing in their notebook… but how often do you see someone on their phone? The usage of phones outweighs the use of other things like books or crossword puzzles. The reason could be that all these activities are available to us on our phones. 

According to Exploding Trends, around 90% of cell phones are smartphones. Over 6.5 billion people are using smartphones right now, this is a 10.8% growth from 2021. It’s fair to say that many people across the globe are using smartphones and with those smartphones, they’re more likely to use applications. Many web designers not only have to know how to create the perfect website, but also need to be able to make it compatible with mobile apps. 

There have been many times personally when I go to download an app and delete it a few minutes later after I find out that it’s hard to use. This goes for websites on a smartphone as well—it’s an immediate turn-off. How exactly can you ensure that your website or app is easily accessible on a smartphone? In this article, we will be discussing the importance of mobile usability testing and how it can make or break your business. 

What exactly is usability testing? 

Usability testing is a way to make your website easy to use and essentially create a more user-friendly interface. This step is essential and needs to be done in order for your website to be the best out there. There are two main types of usability testing: 

  1. User testing
  2. Expert testing 

User testing involves and uses real users to see how they might interact with a product or interface. This type of testing can be done in person or online. Expert testing involves experts in the field testing out products and interfaces.

The benefits of usability testing

Usability testing for mobile apps is mainly tested by the users. This is an important way to record data. It’s essential to your business to understand the way your audience uses your website. Usability testing doesn’t take away from your business but rather adds to it. It actually saves time and money for your company, granted you use the data correctly. 

Let’s break down the importance of user testing:

  1. Understanding how your site works for you and your users
  2. Your product meets the standards and expectations of your users
  3. Removes flaws and fixes bugs
  4. Enjoyable experiences for users 
  5. Useful for feedback 

The seven steps of mobile usability testing

If we’re going to discuss usability testing for mobile apps, there has to be a guide on how to do it, right? Good thing you’ve found this article. We will be going over seven steps that are key to running a successful usability test for your mobile app. 

What’s your pet peeve when it comes to a usable mobile app? Photo courtesy of Jonas Leupe.
  1. What are your objectives?

The first step in many processes is to be sure of your objectives or goals. What comes to mind when you think of the most important objectives? To give you an outline to work off of, there are six things you should be aware of. 

  • Useful
  • Useable
  • Desirable 
  • Accessible
  • Credible
  • Findable 

Once you can identify most of these, it’s easier for you to begin to draft up your goals and objectives. You will continually be looking back at these goals so it’s important to have a solid foundation so that you can start working on the testing right away. 

  1. Design the tasks 

Once you decide on your objectives and goals, it’s time to start developing your tasks. These tasks are what your users will be doing in order for you to test your product. This is why it’s so important to have your objectives solid and stable. It will make things easier for you in the long run. It’s important to keep these tasks short and clear. A few examples of this are:

  • Create an account
  • Change your profile settings
  • Change your privacy settings

These tests are used as scenarios, and you shouldn’t provide any further instructions other than the examples of the phrases above. 

  1. What testing method will you use? 

As mentioned above there are two types of user testing: user testing and expert testing. This should be an easy choice because of the objectives you have set in the first step. Not every business fits inside of the cookie cutter, so it’s important to use whatever you believe is right for your app. Of course, there are pros and cons to each type of testing, so this might be a good time to do some research on the subject. 

Identifying participants requires some research on your user demographics. Photo courtesy of Maxim Ilyahov.
  1. Identify and recruit participants

Once you have chosen the type of testing you want to conduct, you must choose the perfect participants. Based on your projected demographics, choosing participants will make the test much more significant and important, and you’ll be able to really take advantage of their feedback. According to QA Lead, your participants should: 

  • Be representative of the target audience
  • Own a mobile device with the operating system that the mobile app is designed to operate on 
  • Be available at the scheduled time and place (when performing lab-based usability)
  • Be prepared to sign a permission form to participate in a usability test.

  1. Organize and analyze 

Once you have run and finished the tests, you must collect data and then analyze it. Written or video-recorded feedback will be important when you’re looking at your objectives to see whether or not you met them or not. Don’t be discouraged if your reports come back with a lot of complaints and criticisms, this just means you have more to work with. These will be essential to creating changes to your interface that will benefit your users. 

  1. Improve your app

Once you have all the information you need and the steps to fix the issues your users were experiencing, it’s time to start working on your app. This is where your team will come in handy, but because of the testing you have done, it’ll be easier for everyone to be on the same page. Taking detailed notes is important in this stage because it’ll help you with the next step. 

  1. Start planning your next session

You have worked really hard to improve the usability of your app and it’s time to put it to the test once again. One pro of user testing is  you can keep doing it until you and your customers are satisfied. 

Now that you have done your first test, the next ones will become easier. In fact, it should happen quite often, especially if you want a lot of traffic on your app. Every test run will get you closer to your goals and eventually you will have a smooth-running app that all of your users will be happy with.

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