Usability testing offers a variety of benefits for both future users of a product as well as the company or developers creating that product. We should be designing for the end-user, not for ourselves as designers or for what the client thinks the user wants. This mistake is often made by many due to a lack of research, budget, or time. We unpack mobile app usability testing and the reasons to invest in it to ensure your mobile app success.
Usability tests for mobile apps are designed to observe test-subject users while they use your app. The purpose of testing is to measure the app’s user-friendliness, operation and learn about how it can better support your brand’s key marketing objectives. This can be conducted with other stakeholders not necessarily part of the app development and where applicable a small subset of potential users.
A developer might think they have addressed every flaw in a design, but until you get user feedback, you won’t know how people use and perceive what you’ve created. TED.com‘s UX Architect Michael McWatters puts it best by saying, “You could be spending time and money developing features that are broken, rather than doing early-stage testing to identify flaws and revise your design before such revisions are overly costly.” Your users are the whole reason your app exists. The more say they have, the better your final product is. That means their input can be helpful at every stage of the mobile app design and development process
A recent study shows that phone users in the US spend 86% of their mobile usage time solely on apps. An article on proto.io adds “In the crowded field of mobile app design, competition is intense, users are fickle, and testing is more crucial than ever”. “Even when you bring in users, there’s no guarantee they’ll stick around. On average, only about 1 in 5 users will retain your app for more than 90 days, and many users only ever open the app once”. This intense competition simply means you cannot risk having a bad UX (User Experience) for the end-user and this is why usability testing is imperative early and at all stages of mobile app development.
Investing in usability testing early on will save your business time and money. Making changes to your app after development is expensive and time-consuming. Finding and fixing errors and potential issues are invaluable early on in the development process.
Getting feedback from your users will help you make research-backed, user-centred design decisions. Armed with user insights, you can avoid expensive development errors and proactively address your customer’s problems. And an estimated 50% of engineering time is spent doing rework that could have been avoided. These are problems you might not uncover through QA testing alone. For example:
One of the biggest benefits of user testing is that you can see where your users encounter problems and get stuck. While the UX journey and user flow may seem apparent and obvious to the developer, a second eye helps find other kinks in usability
Users can give useful information on what they like about the app, and what they find frustrating, whether the user flow is as intuitive as you think it is, and how it compares with competitor offerings and whether your new ‘ killer feature’ adds value or just clutters the interface
Stakeholders need to have co-ownership of the project’s design ideas and decisions. E.g. Developers might have a particular design idea but the concept might be hard to take to market. The Sales department, Operations, Upper management, Product managers, Marketing, Developers, Designers, Stakeholders, and Clients will help examine problems in greater detail from several perspectives and backgrounds
Depending on the type of tests, and the product you are developing, your mobile app prototype needs to show different test-ready features. The minimum is scenario simulation. The simulate button should allow you to work the prototype directly on the device, which lets one test remotely or in-person. On top of that, realistic interaction, test-on-device capabilities and data table simulation are also vital if you want users to experience your end-product.
Mobile app prototyping offers a host of merits that can be used iteratively with usability testing. A few mobile app development companies as SovTech, offer this service as a stand-alone service for clients. Jamie Chenells, SovTech’s Blueprint department adds in,
“Our designers able to build out a functional blueprint or prototype of your app in 30 days. That is faster and better than anyone else in the market. While we value the speed of delivery, we are invested in the long term successes of our clients and work with them iteratively to iron out functional details early on in the project, thereby helping them refine their product and go-to-market approach before launching their app”
Mobile prototyping tools aren’t just an asset for ironing out the bugs and visualizing your end product – they can also help companies do things that otherwise wouldn’t be practical.
User testing plays an increasingly important role as you move into the mobile app design process. You may want to structure your process to involve some degree of user feedback at each phase of the project.
Users can also help you evaluate a lot of real-world concerns that are hard to test for in the comfort of your office. You can arrange for users to try your app out for the first time while walking around town or multi-tasking, to make sure it’s intuitive in real-world conditions.
Usability testing takes time to conduct but can be very beneficial in the long run. Instead of going through various iterations trying to improve the user experience while the product is in production, consider performing a usability test before product shipments. That will lead to happier users, better conversion rates, and fewer headaches for the development and design teams.
SovTech is a custom software development company providing a complete software design and development service. We design, build, deploy and maintain innovative custom software that gives our clients the opportunity to start, run and grow world-class businesses. We believe technology will be at the core of businesses of the future. We aim to connect businesses across all industries to innovative software, technological development, solutions and services, in a manner that’s faster, easier and better than ever before. To date, we are operating across continents and have offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town, London and Dubai.