Mobile app usability testing: what it is and why it’s important
Have you ever spent a considerable amount of time and effort on a specific task and created something that you feel attached to it? I think we can safely admit that it has happened to all of us quite a few times in our professional and personal lives.
Whether it’s an article (like the one I’m typing), a paper, a study, a piece of homework, a drawing, or even a delicious dessert — if you spend time and effort into making it, chances are that you want to see it is received in a positive manner; that others will acknowledge its value, its taste, its beauty, and all its benefits. If that doesn’t happen we feel gutted, disappointed, and even hopeless (depending on the effort invested).
But in the process of creating this thing, we have become too attached to it, we are not the objective judges that we should be and if someone comes and “blemishes” our creation we can’t easily accept it. Well, the fact that we’re so close to our creation is not always good, especially when it comes to business, products, and services.
We can’t be the sole judges of our work results. Having spent too much time on a specific product or service doesn’t allow us to see things with a clear mind and that’s why we need a third, unbiased judge to evaluate our product/service proposition, put it to the test and flag any potential issues or problems it may have. It’s the only way to identify those problems and fix them before it’s too late.
And if you thought we’ve gone off-topic, we haven’t – that’s what the essence of usability testing is and why you need it to properly assess your new mobile app (or any digital or physical product for that matter).
What is mobile app usability testing?
Simply put, usability testing is a way to assess and evaluate how well your app does what it was designed to do by your target userbase in a controlled environment.
But let’s break down this statement to make it easier to understand. So, first of all, every app is designed to achieve a specific task, or different tasks in different scenarios. Secondly, every app is designed to target a specific segment of the population. Rarely does an app target everyone. When that’s the case, the users are segmented into different groups that enjoy different user experiences and those are in turn broken down into more scenarios.
Finally, this testing has to be performed in a controlled environment, otherwise, the results are moot as they can’t be used to draw meaningful comparisons.
When is usability testing performed?
Usability testing is performed at various stages of the app’s development cycle. From its early development stage and every iteration thereafter, when new features are about to be added, when there are major UI and UX changes, when features are removed, and pretty much every time something new is introduced or something that exists changes or gets removed.
Usability testing comes in to ensure that any changes made will not be disruptive to the user’s journey during their interaction with your app. Essentially, as long as you keep developing and improving your app, usability testing will be needed.
What are the benefits of usability testing?
So, why do you need usability testing for your app? Well you need usability testing to ensure that your app is adding genuine value to your business, that the expecations of the final users are achieved, and that the user experience is problem-free, hassle-free, streamlined, efficient and all in all as positive as possible for the user.
- Accurate evaluation of the app’s user experience: as we mentioned earlier, you need someone experienced to provide an unbiased, accurate and fair evaluation of the app and the available user journeys. These testers are emotionally detached from the design of the app so they can provide unburdened insights.
- Identify issues before the product launch: what’s worse than launching a new app or an update to your app only to encounter problems and bugs that diminish the user experience, alienate your users and cause damage to your brand? Usability testing helps you identify potential problems that may arise and fix them before your app goes live
- Improve user satisfaction: usability testing is not always just about finding problems. There may we use cases and user scenarios that aren’t perfectly optimised, delivering a less than perfect user experience. By finding opportunities where you can enhance the user experience, you ensure that your mobile app will deliver exceptional quality
- Gives you a competitive advantage: you can always perform usability testing on competitors’ apps and find out where they are lagging, what’s the main issues with using the app, and make sure that you design a superior product that the users will prefer over one of your competitors giving you the competitive advantage
- Helps create a more efficient product: usability testing also ensures that your app is better optimised and has a better product market fit
- Helps inform future feature introduction: usability testing will unearth tons of opportunities and gaps that your app have which can help inform future feature additions, further enriching and improving your app
What makes a top rated app?
With all the benefits of usability testing in mind, let’s explore what exacty makes an app successful and what you need to look out for when building your, first or not, app.
Intuitiveness (ease of use)
The attention span of an average person these days has sunken to crazy low levels due to the bombardment of audiovisual stimuli 24/7. Whether you’re on your mobile, on your laptop, commuting, out and about, there’s a myriad of incoming messages that you need to deal with which has resulted in developing defence mechanisms, one of which is reducing our attention span.
Young people will decide within 3 seconds if an app (or pretty much any other digital medium) is worth their time. That’s all you get, 3 seconds — that’s why your app needs to be intuitive. It needs to be super user friendly and not need a manual in order to interact with it. Intuitiveness is what most users value even if they don’t know how to define mobile app intuitiveness, they know what to look for.
First impressions are crucial. If your new mobile app is a performance dud then your users will abandon it and never come back. Slow loading apps, bugs and lag are just a few of the most common issues users report as things they hate when on their phones. Performance is the cornerstone of your mobile app’s quality and you need to invest in the proper QA and usability testing to ensure your app meets today’s performance requirements.
Usability testing summed up
Your end goal is for your prospective users to love engaging with your app, give it positive reviews and continue spreading it through word of mouth. That can never happen with an app that’s full of bugs, it’s not adequately optimized, is not tested and doesn’t stand out from the other thousands of app on the market.
Mobile app testing might seem a bit unecssary at first, especially for business owners who are planning on launching their first app and they can’t yet recognize the value of it. App testing is a crucial last step before pushing your app live. It’s the gatekeeper to you app’s success. It can help ensure a successful mobile app launch and a promising future for your app.
If you would like to enquire about our mobile app development services please feel free to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to provide a fully custom tailored plan just for you.