Gartner estimates that $26 billion dollars in revenue were generated from 102 billion mobile app downloads in 2013, and we may be seeing over 268 billion downloads per year by 2017 (or around $68 billion dollars in revenue). The amount of potential payoff that mobile apps can generate for businesses is very high and thus mandates the need for effective mobile app testing and optimization. Moreover, the consumers are no more satisfied with simple apps. They are looking for feature-rich and intuitive apps that perform well. This can only be made possible through efficient testing of the apps.
What? Mobile application testing can be defined as the process that is used to test application software developed for mobile devices. The testing is carried out to evaluate the applications for their functionality, usability, and consistency.
Why? Mobile app testing is carried out to ensure that consumers have a positive experience when they download and use the applications. In a rapidly growing mobile market, this endeavor is well worth the effort. If the required app testing is not carried out effectively, consumer experience can be severely hampered. And because consumers today have low-tolerance levels and do not have the time to escalate app related issues; there is a good chance of consumers heading for the exit door when they have to deal with mobile apps that are riddled with inconsistencies.
Mobile apps must enable functionality, efficiency, and collaboration. However, mobile app testing is time-consuming, expensive and brings with it a load of technical complications (compatible platforms, software versions, and multiple device types) making it hard to test everything before going live. But if you want to avoid losing customers, garner positive reviews, and want the whole app experience to be pleasant for your consumer, then you should consider mob app testing seriously.
Here are the different elements of an effective mobile testing strategy that will help overcome the above challenges:
Leveraging the utility of a device emulator
One of the advantages of using a device emulator is that it is economical, fairly quick, efficient, and can be used for basic application functionality testing. If you are thinking of features like network bypass, simulated environments, test scripting languages, etc., then a mobile device emulator is an excellent option. It would be helpful to ascertain if your emulated device has:
- A high-level scripting solution which gives you the option of rerunning test cases several times
- The flexibility of changing device profiles quickly.
The versatility of cloud computing
Multiple scenarios and combinations can be managed with a cloud-based mobile application testing model. A cloud computing environment offers a web-based mobile testing environment for various applications to be tested and managed. It also allows you to maintain a wide-ranging test bed infrastructure without that extra expense. Some of the benefits of a cloud-computing environment:
- Eliminates the investment of having to set up an on- premise test condition that is time-consuming and costly
- Offers a secure environment for applications to be tested
- Supports complex applications and a variety of programming languages and scripts
- Teams can access tools and results from anywhere with remote accessibility
- Offers real-time results so that defects can be fixed while tests are being run.
Almost all applications are dependent on the strength of network connectivity. Considering that network connectivity or the lack of it affects mobile applications, testing mobile apps in actual network environments is essential to authenticate an application’s functionality. A network simulation tool is an inexpensive option to test mobile apps against network speed, bandwidth options (2G, 3G, and 4G), connectivity issues, and bandwidth variations. On-location testing can be used for specialized applications that are dependent on carrier features – free usage allowance, two-way SMS, and such. A successful and functional mobile app must be able to deliver high levels of performance across various network environments.
Manual vs. automated testing
There is no one answer here – both are required. Automation is the option when you are looking for a mechanism to consistently repeat a test procedure and authenticate application results. It can be effective for regression testing but requires a substantial investment and the ROI is only accomplished when the same automated testing script is executed several times. Having said that, manual testing is also a good option that should be explored when tests have to be run only a few times and when you want to carry out exploratory testing. UI testing is best done manually, and so software’s UX can only be tested by humans. Automated and manual testing, both are required to create a successful app. It is a matter of exercising diligence and weighing options to make the right decision.
Mobile app optimization
Till now we discussed testing the features and functionality of a mobile app. The next stage is to test how the consumers are behaving on the app and how their experience can be optimized in order to increase conversions. Conducting A/B or Multivariate testing is essential to find out ways to plug the gaps in the conversion funnel. Mobile apps must be tested rigorously to identify the path users follow, which aspects do they find problematic, where do they drop off, which areas have most engagement, and so on. These will throw light on how the applications can be optimized for better results and enhanced customer experiences.
A comprehensive mobile testing strategy, which factors in device set-up, network infrastructure, target devices, and a balanced combination of manual and automated testing tools that takes care of functional and non-functional testing, is essential for developing effective mobile applications.