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Variables to consider in mobile app design and testing

A Picture of Belen Cabeza
September 22, 2014 | Topic: Mobile   Software Product Development   Software Testing  
Variables to consider in mobile app design and testing

Mobile app design and testing

¿Why the mobile market is booming?

In the last few years we’ve been experiencing accelerated changes in the mobile market. The three biggest advantages of the mobile world are the core reasons why users are migrating to these technologies:

  • Accessibility: with mobile devices, you can carry the web everywhere. This means you can use and enjoy anywhere your e-mail, social networks, games, videos, news, actions, sports and shopping, among others. The possibility of being connected 24/7 is the main motive why mobile devices and apps are not showing (nor will in the near future) signs of deceleration in their growth.
  • Adaptability: Some people might consider that mobile applications are focused on a very young market, but this couldn’t be further away from reality. In fact, business professionals were the first ones to adapt this technology to their needs, and they currently represent a huge portion of the total number of users. This shows on the big popularity of business applications and productivity of CRM, EM, documents, presentations, emails, and messages tools. And, of course, you can also play Doodle Jump even when you’re a CEO.
  • Efficiency: mobile applications (and mobile web in a smallest rate) have considerably improved the efficiency of our daily activities on line. The premise of a mobile app is to reduce each of its functions to a minimum component. For example, users who want to see the last updates in the currency market download an app focused on that. It’s unlikely they’ll browse and open 5 different pages to get that information when you can obtain it all from just one simple app. That’s what mobile apps offer: direct access to all the data and utilities you need.

Context of use of mobile phones

At the moment to design an app interface there are two main things that should be in focus: the context where a device will be used and the characteristics of the device itself.

When we apply this to a mobile device, we have to keep in mind that its context is changeable and dynamic. The user can be sit or eating, distracted or in a hurry; for this reason, navigation structure needs to be simple and avoid unnecessary steps. Some people, for example, buy cinema tickets from their mobile phones when they see the queue in the box office is too long. Also,  it’s frequent  to query you bank account before buying something. In most cases, the user is in a public place and needs the task done ASAP.

You need to consider also that almost any task can be interrupted by internet loss, an incoming call or a simple distraction like pushing the home button. Therefore, the design should allow recovering the data or process or the user would loathe using the app.

The scope of testing

Mobile world is extremely diverse. Are you aware of all the variables that should be considered in the design of a testing plan? Let’s see a short list of points to consider:

  • A version of the app for OS: We must contemplate a device for each platform the app supports and each one should be tested. It’s important to have a device with the latest operative system and one or two more with the previous one to ensure the user won’t find any error when installing new updates. NOTE: Once you’ve updated your iOS, you can´t go back to an older version. Be careful.
  • User configuration: characteristics like geolocalization or push notifications. Besides, the user might not have an email account configured on the device, or the phone might be in silence mode.
  • Interruptions: mobiles phones are all multitasking; when using an app it doesn’t matter if you receive an incoming call, a SMS or a low battery alert, it shouldn’t interrupt its processes.
  • App features: the test environment needs to support this level of customization. if your application supports both layouts orientations (portrait and landscape) adapting the interface or supports multilingual or local configuration,
  • Localization: languages with long words or special characters are most likely to generate errors in the visual presentation.
  • Real connection: We must contemplate that the smartphone might be used in locations with a slow internet connection (like 2G, 3G, EDGE, GPRS, e.g.). Don’t forget to add variables like Plane mode or changing the connection from WIFI to 3G.
  • Actual use: Get real, test the app simulating a genuine use of the device in different times and circumstances.
  • Multiple devices: testing cases must support the multiple changes an app might encounter when is used in different top notch platforms.
  • Optimum performance tests: it should work with real traffic from native applications that mimic the traffic of real applications.
  • Simulate the real mobile bandwidth.
  • Battery drain: verify that the application doesn’t drain too much battery or the user will uninstall it immediately.
  • Install and uninstall the application: the application has to be capable of being installed using a WIFI connection, Bluetooth or USB, and uninstalled without any error.
  • Screen Orientation: Rotate the device from landscape to portrait in every screen of the application. Don’t forget to do it too when the user is entering data while the screen is changing orientation!

I hope you’ve find useful these basic tips when it comes to testing and designing mobile apps. Of course there are many more, you just have to imagine all the possible scenarios users might encounter and the variety of actions they’ll want to perform, making sure they will be able to complete them all with no inconvenient.

Here at Belatrix we offer expertise in automated testing coupled with manual testing to align with agile in multiple operating platforms. For more information, visit our webpage!



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