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Usability Tools

5 years ago 5 min read

Mobile Testing, the Beginner’s Guide

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Usability Tools

Usability Tools

Mobile testing is very “in” right now. In one of our latest posts we described some mobile testing challenges and solutions on how to overcome them. To test or not to test is not the question anymore. What to test is now a problem. From a beginner’s point of view, there are some obvious things that need to be addressed so here is a shortlist of things you shouldn’t forget.

Usability testing

That’s the first thing that comes to mind. Mobile usability runs on the same principle as web usability: mobile has to be accessible, easy to use and leave users happy about using your product. What needs to be in the back of our minds is what Raluca Budiu of Nielsen Norman Group shared:

Testing phones, tablets, or other mobile devices with real users is similar to studies with regular computers but requires special consideration for recording equipment, room setup and even the test participants.

No matter whether you decide to be in the same room with the participants upon mobile usability testing or if you go with remote usability testing, there are a few things that needs to be covered:

  • Can you download the app / see the website easily?
  • Does anything look off or out of place?
  • Is it easy to navigate around?
  • Can users perform a specific task without any trouble?
  • What does it look like when you change the language?

Backend testing

Just as in the case of website testing, mobile testing shouldn’t neglect the technical part of the puzzle.

  • Does the app / website load quickly on mobile?
  • How fast you can send / download users’ data? If you use the same account on different devices, is the upload and update instant?
  • How will the API or server handle many user requests? Does it crash and display error messages or just simply display never-ending-loading?
  • How will your product look if the Internet connection is not great? Are some of the parts not displaying, is everything visible?
  • Is the data secure? For example, if you force close the app, is the user still logged in or is login required?

Compatibility testing

Just as in the case of different desktop apps or operating systems, compatibility of mobile apps or websites viewed on mobile is crucial for good user experience.

  • How does your product work on different screen sizes?
  • Is your website adjusting to mobile Is it built with responsive web design in mind?
  • How will it be seen by users on different devices from different manufacturers?
  • Does your product support older versions of most popular operating systems?
  • Does any part of a device’s operating system or other app makes yours crash or slow down?

Mobile testing – Practical tips

It’s all about the touch

This sentence couldn’t be more true. In the mobile world, fingers and touch replace mouse and clicks. And when you think about how many different devices you have available, you learn that this simple method of navigation may be a blessing in case of some of the handsets and an absolute burden in case of the others.

  • Check if the touch area is large enough to work for people with bigfingers
  • Make sure your menus and sidebars are easily accessible
  • Check if it’s possible to go back if you tap on anything by mistake For Andorid apps there is a special back button that doesn’t exist in iOS – don’t make users force close your app because there is no way to go back
  • Make sure that entire input fields and dropdowns are touchable, not just parts of them as this may cause poor user experience
  • Check if it’s easy to use radio buttons and checkboxes – it’s easy to miss them, better replace them with bigger touchable fields
  • If your app enables typing, check if it’s easy to minimize keyboard and read text that the user puts in


Don’t waste space

Since apps need to accommodate screens of all sizes, you have no space to waste with long descriptive texts of any parts of the navigation. If you add icons and descriptions they may be so small that users will have problems to decipher it. And even if you manage to fit the right size in one language, if you localize your apps to a few more language options, this may be a problem with other languages.

  • Check if icons you use are widely recognizable and east to understand across different cultures
  • Check if users understand how to navigate and the design itself is not causing them any trouble
  • Check if users understand the consistency behind your design. For example, whether they know that the red trash icon makes you cancel writing or delete a new picture if it’s used in different parts of the app
  • Test whether the app is easily understood if users have limited time to do certain tasks such as, for example, whether it’s easy to find a bus schedule in under two minutes – they use apps on the go and it’s crucial to process information as quickly as possible.

If you liked the list above and you want to get more tips, head over to appqualityalliance.org and check out their latest report on The Essentials of Mobile App Testing.

Testing subjects described above show exactly that some of them address mobile analytics and some of them address features and basic accessibility issues of a mobile app itself. If you’re a beginner in the mobile testing world, bear in mind that there are different tools and methods to measure both. Stay tuned for our next article where we will go through some of the popular tools for moderated mobile testing and mobile analytics. Until next time!

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Usability Tools

Usability Tools

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