Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know that mobile officially was anointed king in 2014 when the consumption of digital content on mobile outpaced that of the desktop. Meaning that today, to succeed at virtually any organizational endeavor – ecommerce, networking, communication, etc. – your company not only needs to be on mobile, it needs to do mobile right.
That last part is key and the rationale for this blog series.
In the same way businesses flooded the Web when it became clear consumers were flocking online, today another great consumer migration – this one to mobile – is once again forcing organizations to adapt or move. Today’s consumers not only are on mobile in record numbers, they expect error-free, dependable, useful, personally relevant mobile engagement regardless of device, location, or need.
That’s a tall order and brings us to precisely why mobile testing is so important. Going mobile is one thing; doing it right and ensuring that you’re organization’s mobile strategy is optimized for an outstanding end user experience is quite another.
You may have done an outstanding job in defining and architecting your mobile product. Its design may be impeccably modern and innovative. The developer may have done a superb job in building it. But until you’ve tested it to ensure that it works exactly as intended for your customers across a variety of circumstances, you won’t know if it will help – or hurt – your business.
Remember, your customers aren’t interested in testing your product. They want performance. If mobile is your storefront and their experience is a bad one, they’ll enter once and never return and you’ll be none the wiser. Or as one anonymous source sagely noted, “If you don’t like testing your product, most likely your customers won’t like testing it either.”
Peeking Under the Hood- Types of tests
In a nutshell, mobile testing is the process through which the core components tasked with delivering the mobile experience – e.g. the hardware and application software – are tested for functionality, usability, dependability, and consistency. Fail at even one of these standards and you’re apt to see a dramatic decline in customer engagement and organizational success.
Hardware Testing – Focuses on the quality of the processors, hardware, screen (size, resolution, etc.), memory, camera, speakers, Bluetooth, WIFI, and other core systems commonly included in a mobile device.
Software/Application Testing – Focuses on the specific application(s) software designed and developed for mobile, including:
- Native: Created and bundled into a mobile phone or tablet. These applications are designed for a single platform, require installation, are written in SDKs, are usually faster and often don’t require an Internet connection. Updates for native apps are delivered from an app or play store.
- Web: Server-side apps accessing the Web via browsers over mobile and WIFI networks. These apps are usually written in HTML, CSS, Java, PHP, etc., require centralized updates, require an Internet connection for usage, and are slower than their native counterparts.
- Hybrid: These apps are a less common combination of native and Web and are written using Web technology such as HTML5, CSS, etc.
For our purposes, we’re only going to focus on mobile application testing since that is the core of most organizational needs.
The Scope and Scale of Mobile Application Testing
So what are we looking for when we conduct a rigorous round of mobile application testing? What are we attempting to troubleshoot and, wherever necessary, improve?
When we consider the sheer number of devices, operating systems, connection types, and users involved, the scope, scale and complexity of mobile application testing becomes evident. To test, then, we first must consider what we are testing before we move on to how and with whom to test.
- Functionality – Does the application work per your organization’s mobile operating requirements?
- Usability – How easy is the app to use and does the end user have an enjoyable experience?
- Operational – How does the app perform after loss of battery or data loss during upgrade or update?
- Performance – Does the app perform under changing circumstances, such as a switch from WIFI to mobile, from 3G to 4G, and so on. How does battery life hold up, how fast do pages render?
- User Interface – Testing of buttons, screens, menu, navigation, settings, etc.
- Interoperability – How does the app fare across different devices, browser types, operating systems, screen sizes.
- Security – Do the app’s authentication, authorization, and data security protocols work as expected?
Now that we’ve determined what must be tested, in Part 2 of this series we’ll consider the proper strategy and execution of a mobile testing plan and in Part 3 we’ll look at testing vendors and how to pick the right testing partner.