Testing Usability for Mobile Applications

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Summary:

Mobile usability goes a long way in enhancing end-user app acceptance. But usability starts with the user, and users differ in terms of knowledge, interests, goals, and so on. This article discusses some core usability characteristics that matter to customers, and how test engineers can understand and achieve them.

Smartphone applications have been booming since the advent of iPhones. In October 2015, there were nearly two million apps available for download in the iTunes App Store. If we combine this with Android and Windows Phone submissions, the numbers are even more mind-boggling.

While a few apps go viral and get downloaded thousands of times, many do not generate even a few users. Apps can flop because the content is not interesting, but there’s another prevalent (and avoidable) reason for failure: because they are too difficult to be used on a mobile device.

Usability starts with the user, and users differ in terms of knowledge, interests, goals, and so on. As test engineers, we must ask questions about the app users, their mobile tasks, the environments they work in, the types of devices they use, and how tech-savvy they are.

Compuware conducted a survey in October 2012 about how customers react to poor mobile app experiences. 48 percent reported they would be less likely to use the mobile app, 34 percent said they would switch to a competitor’s app, 31 percent would tell others about their poor experience, and another 31 percent said they would be less likely to purchase from the app company.

Clearly, usability is an important attribute to account for. This article discusses some core usability characteristics that matter to customers, and how test engineers can understand and achieve them.

Overall app simplicity: The Indian railways mobile app IRCTC is widely used, and one thing to applaud is how simple its user interface is. All its elements are projected well for users of varied skill levels. Its main page, pictured below, is straightforward and easy to navigate.

Indian railways mobile app

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User Comments

7 comments
Jon Hagar's picture

Good start.   I know space is limited, but I like to use Usablity checklists, shoot for ubiquitous configuration ability, and keep the UI/GUI “fun”.

 

November 4, 2015 - 9:01am
Ranjit Shankar's picture

Good article @Mukesh.. Yes, customer-centric mobile usability testing measures the user’s ease of handling and experiencing the product/portal.. Thanks for sharing!

April 20, 2016 - 2:04pm
Pratik Patel's picture

Nice article related to testing usability of mobile apps. As we see the drastic growth in the daily development of different mobile apps, which can be related to Android or iOS, mobile app testing through automation is in great demand. Mobile test automation provides various test solutions, which help you to verify and validate the overall functioning of the mobile apps. Some of the most preferred tools used for testing usability of mobile apps are Appium, TestingWhiz, Robotium, etc.

March 7, 2017 - 5:21am

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