Mobile app development is not as simple as having an idea, developing it, and then deploying it in app stores. Instead, the process is much more cutthroat.
The development process involves many steps before the app is ready for launch. One such stage is mobile app testing. It is when the QA team runs a quality test to ensure the app works as intended, has a straightforward interface, and offers excellent user experience.
That said, the testing phase is further divided by types of testing and the purpose of each test. Meaning, mobile app usability testing is one part of the process wherein quality analysts test if users can perform desired functions with the app.
Thus, it is an important stage of App development that determines whether your app is ready to hit the market.
If you're looking to improve your app quality, here's an insight into what is mobile app testing, usability testing, and how to write a usability test script for more accurate results.
What is Mobile App Testing?
Testing mobile applications is an essential step to determine app usability, functionality, glitches, and other bugs and errors.
The process can be divided into various types, including:
• Compatibility testing,
• System testing,
• Functional testing,
But we're here to discuss app usability testing. So, let's move onto the topic:
What is Mobile Usability Testing?
Mobile app usability testing is what allows developers to ensure the app performs its intended functions and users can achieve their goals. The process requires participants who represent your audience demographics. They use the prototype within a controlled environment to check for bugs and glitches in performance.
But like every aspect of design and development, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for mobile usability testing. So, how you conduct tests depends on the product and resources at hand. The idea behind the trial, on the other hand, is the same: to meet users' standards through experimentation and user feedback.
Furthermore, mobile usability testing differs between the web and the app slightly. While the process is relatively similar, the difference arises in how you implement the tasks and conduct tests. That said, let's dive into how to test mobile applications for usability.
How to Test Mobile Application? Tips to Write Usability Test Script from Scratch
A usability test script is what the quality analysts follow when testing mobile applications. It helps them use a systematic approach for testing app function, finding users' preferences, and uncovering ways to improve the app. A script helps:
• You cover your research objectives and find the answers needed to progress with the project.
• Maintain consistency between each testing session so that you ask the same questions from all participants. It helps maintain a controlled environment, robust methodology, and post-session analysis of application tests.
• Collaborate with others, particularly for review work.
• You manage time during sessions.
It means app usability testing without a script is not merely challenging, but impossible!
That said, if it's your first attempt at writing a script, here's what you must include:
Start the mobile usability testing script with an introduction! Introduce yourself and the participants, inform them of how the session will proceed and ensure that they consent for recording and sharing before you begin.
You can also leverage it to build a rapport with the attending team members. It can help make them more comfortable, which will ensure the session runs smoothly.
Conversely, it's also a must that you avoid presenting yourself as the designer of the prototype. It will help keep the participants' feedback as candid as possible, without emotion influencing their responses.
Warm-up questions break the ice between you and the participants and help obtain their relevant background details for future mobile app testing sessions, as well. Some questions you can ask them to include:
• Their current role.
• How long have they been in that role?
• Do they have experience with X?
• Have they ever used sites like GitLab? If so, then why?
Even if it's nothing significant, warm-up questions will help in building rapport and make your participants more comfortable. You can consider queries that will help judge the participant's mental standing and expectations before the session begins.
'Tasks' is the primary section of an app usability testing script. It is the most challenging as well as the longest to write, consisting of at least 3-4 tasks.
Here's a breakdown on how to write tasks in a usability script:
Start by reviewing your research goals, objectives, and hypotheses. A useful app usability testing script efficiently translates those goals into clear-cut user tasks.
For example, if you aim to find improvements, ask the participants to perform a task that would force them to go through the flow, looking for where they fail or hinder, instead of directly asking them to follow the steps and observe areas in need of improvements.
Structure your tasks:
If a task requires context or motivation for a participant, then structure it with a relevant scenario before assigning it. For example, the individual is working on a project and adjusted some new code. In that case, the task is for them to check the code for any security vulnerabilities.
You can further format the task with more specific questions, like:
• What do you see on the page?
• What information does the page offer?
• Is SAST operational right now?
• What next step would you take?
One way to improve your mobile usability testing script is to add a link for the prototype relevant to the task. It serves two purposes:
1) Your teammates reviewing the script will be able to assess the task details.
2) It will be convenient to find and resend the link to participants, should they need it.
Additionally, you can outline what you aim to achieve out of each task within the script. It will remind the moderator of all possible solutions to complete it. In turn, they can help the participants recover if they fail a mission, which is a prerequisite for the following tasks in an application's test.
Organize tasks in proper order:
The order of your tasks will determine how smooth mobile app testing is. Thus, here's what you can do to ensure that participants and the moderator understand what needs to be done and how:
• Order tasks in a way that reflects their flow. For example, if the first question asks them to navigate to a specific page, the other could ask for its review.
• Group tasks that relate to a particular topic or area of the project.
• Moderating usability testing sessions is no easy feat. Thus, while you get the hang of time management, start with tasks that are more substantial first.
Wrap Up Questions & Conclusion
In the end, all that's left is to get a candid review from the participants about the experience. Here's what you can ask them:
• Their thoughts on what they experienced?
• How does it fare against other similar app prototypes?
• Any other suggestions they have?
Lastly, thank the participants and mention when they'll receive their compensation.
Tips to Write Usability Test Script from Scratch:
Before you work on your mobile app testing, here are a few tips to keep in mind when writing a usability script from scratch:
Determine Scope & Subjects
Before beginning scriptwriting, identify the scope or goals you aim to achieve and enlist the participants. It will determine the flow of your usability script, what tasks you assign, and more.
Ask Consent to Record
All usability tests are recorded for analysis. Thus, inform and confirm with your participants if they consent to it.
Begin with Preliminary Check
Before diving into the core testing phase, be sure to get background information on the participants. It includes details like name, age, occupation, and other data relevant to the test.
Reassure the Subject They are not Being Tested
When you are being recorded, it is natural to feel as if you are under observation. So, reassure your participants that it's the prototype that is under testing, not them.
Encourage Them to Voice Their Thoughts
The usability test relies on the participants' honest review of the prototype. Plus, it isn't easy to read a person's expression to understand their thought process. Thus, encourage the team to talk aloud and voice their opinions without hesitance.
Allow Space for Questions
Allow the participants room to ask questions any time during application tests. It will help ensure that you are all on the same page before you assign tasks.
Avoid Biasness in Statements
As mentioned above, the phrasing of the questions affects the participants' responses. Thus, it's a must that the tasks are clear-cut and unbiased over the prototype.
Ensure Questions are Open-Ended
Instead of straightforward 'yes or no' questions, opt for statements that leave room for participants to voice their thoughts and opinions.
Write Your Script, Review, and Start Testing!
I hope the blog helped in understanding how to test mobile applications and how to write usability testing scripts.
Follow the guidelines above to write a draft script, then review to ensure it covers the test objectives and has a sensible timeline. Please take note that estimating usability testing time will get better with experience, but it takes 30-45 minutes, generally.
When you review the script yourself, get a second opinion on your draft before doing a practice run. It will help in working out the kinks and making edits as needed so that you are ready for the official test.
That said, are you ready to write your usability testing script?