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October 21, 2021

How to test a mobile application, in 4 steps

Update: 21.10.2021
When a company develops a mobile application, it usually has 3 objectives: generate downloads, build user loyalty and get good reviews on the stores. To achieve this, it is imperative to conduct UX tests at several stages of its design. In this article, we explain how to test a mobile application and exploit user feedback.

1. Conducting an Agile development and testing the mobile application regularly

When developing a mobile application, the project team may decide to test it during or after development. However, at Ferpection, we have a clear-cut opinion: we are clearly on the “testing during development” side. Why?

Because conducting user tests during the various deliveries will allow you to continuously improve the application even before launch. Thus, when your app is available on the store, it will already have a satisfactory UX. On the other hand, developing an application and testing it when it is finished will force you to go through development again to correct it later.

As you can see, performing UX tests on an application during its development is a huge time saver. These studies will make it possible to verify several elements:

  • the proper functioning of the application (with as few bugs as possible);
  • the cohesion of the user interface, in relation to what is expected (concerning design, ergonomics);
  • performance (does the technology support the application?).

The marketing team is often the driving force behind this testing phase.

2. Acceptance testing, a technical inspection of your mobile application

When the development is completed (and in Agile mode, after each “delivery”), it is essential to conduct a thorough acceptance test. This consists of defining scenarios corresponding to the behavior of future online users, and describing what should happen at each stage of a scenario. This is known as a test plan, or acceptance report. The tester’s job is to reproduce these scenarios and to ensure that everything conforms to the specifications.

These tests have 2 main objectives:

  • to detect malfunctions, errors
  • to detect possible inconsistencies in the client’s experience
They can be done manually or by using automation tools. In the case of an application, here are 10 points to be vigilant about: 
  1. Installation/uninstallation: application launch;
  2. Performance: speed and battery consumption;
  3. Connection: network impacts on the application;
  4. Interruption: behavior in case of call, notification;
  5. Interface: design adaptation;
  6. Language: adapted translations and good use of formats, currencies;
  7. Memory: management of the application’s memory usage;
  8. Stability: ensuring there are no crashes;
  9. Submission: compliance with the stores’ rules.

Once these 9 points have been checked, you should be ready to start user testing!

3. User testing: our specialty!

The usefulness of user testing

A user test serves to understand the mobile user, to learn more about how they perceive the application, their mobility, and how they use it.

What we test

As for the user tests mentioned above, we make sure that the application is up-to-date on the functional, technical, performance and interface (UI) side.

The importance of having testers from outside the project and the company

Because the project team knows the company’s objectives and has been working on the application since the beginning, its members lack the necessary perspective to use the application as a “real” user. It is therefore important to carefully select your testers.

Setting up user testing

Once the team knows all this, they can start setting up the test. This requires defining several things:

  • What do you want to test? What are the paths that the testers will have to take?
  • How many mobile users do you want to test?
  • What is the target audience? Who will you test? To do this, we can define “personas”: create fictitious users and put ourselves in their shoes.
  • What method do you use: one-on-one interviews, soft launch with a survey, composition of a group of beta testers, remote testing - moderated or not, this should be done according to the sample objective and the budget.
  • How will the testers be able to access the application?

But once you have answered these questions, the work is still far from over. You now have to list the tasks that will be proposed to the tester, and make sure that their formulation is as neutral and precise as possible.

For example: if we are testing an online appointment booking application, we will tell the tester that they have to make an appointment with Dr Pargamin on October 6th at 10:30 AM and not “to make an appointment with the doctor”.

This correct wording is essential: the smooth running of the tests and the testers’ feedback quality depends on it.

We then move on to the recruitment of testers, the importance of which we have seen above, and to the follow-up of the testing phase. If needed, you can ask us to recruit your panel of testers.

4. Mobile application testing: exploiting user feedback

Once the data has been obtained, it is time to analyze it in order to exploit it as efficiently as possible! The objective is to identify 5 to 10 optimizations that will improve the application. The exercise requires being both rigorous and objective. To do this, you must:

  • read all the feedback from the testers;
  • identify each problem reported, and count the number of times it is mentioned;
  • read between the lines: an element that the user does not “see” on the page may be too small, poorly placed, or not relevant. Nothing should be overlooked.

Finally, here are some tips for prioritizing the changes to be made:

  • problems that come up frequently;
  • “quick wins” – changes that can be implemented in a matter of minutes;
  • critical problems – bugs that disrupt the application’s proper functioning.

In order to constantly improve the mobile application, frequent tests can be performed. As time goes by, the evolutions noted will be minor and will enable you to create a tool that fulfills the users’ expectations as much as possible.

Do not hesitate, test, re-test your mobile applications and respect the 10 rules of user testing!

Want to know more? Visit the Mobile Marketing Association France website to download the white paper on mobile application testing best practices.

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Thibault Geenen

Thibault Geenen

Thibault is fascinated by the power of UX, especially user research and nowadays the UX for Good principles. As an entrepreneur, he's a huge fan of liberated company principles, where teammates give the best through creativity without constraints. A science-fiction lover, he remains the only human being believing that Andy Weir's 'The Martian' is a how-to guide for entrepreneurs.

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