Mobile app quality testing is an essential part of the mobile app development process, yet we find many clients are largely unaware of what it is and why it matters.
Quality Assurance (QA) testing is the process where a person or team validates an app’s design and verifies its functionality. Simply put, it means the app development company takes the time to make sure that the app is easy and intuitive to use, and that it actually works the way it was intended — without the app crashing or acting weird.
Mobile app quality testing has a significant impact on the success of an app because app performance is directly related to user retention. We spoke previously on our blog about the top app performance metrics to monitor, and user retention is one critical measure of success. Retention is driven both by the value proposition of the app and the experience a person has while using it. Effective QA testing helps to ensure that the experience is positive. Few users return to an app that doesn’t perform well.
In addition to the impact mobile app quality testing has on user experience, it can also affect the bottom line. The later problems are discovered, the harder they are to fix — costing both time and money. Further, if problems are not caught prior to app release, they can also cause damage to a brand’s reputation. One relatively recent example of the impact of insufficient QA testing is the Hive heating control app from British Gas. Two different issues in the app, a lack of data encryption and a temperature control glitch, could have led to significant problems for the company. Thankfully, both were noticed early on by consumers and the company did well by addressing them quickly. However, these issues could have been caught even earlier by appropriate QA testing, sparing the company cost and negative press.
Mobile App Quality Testing Methods
While finding and fixing “bugs” is an important part of mobile app quality testing, there is much more involved than just trying to make sure the app doesn’t crash. QA testing starts with a test plan designed to evaluate all the key functionality of the app. Once the developers and QA team have the requirements for the first release of a product, QA creates test cases to ensure it will work as the client and users expect it to.
There are a number of mobile app quality testing methods that are required, in order to help vet all aspects of an app’s performance. Here are the most common:
Unit Testing or Smoke Testing: A unit is the smallest testable part of any software — for example, a code module. This testing is typically handled by the development team and is often done on simulators. Developers write scripts to test the most basic elements of an app, validating each individual unit functions correctly in isolation before integrating it with others.
Functional or Manual: This is done on actual devices in a test environment. Testers ensure that if a functionality is there, it works. For example, a login page should allow you to log in with valid credentials and not allow you access without them. If a button is visible, it should work when tapped. Above all, the app should not crash (stop functioning) in any scenario.
Performance Testing: A step beyond functional, performance testing tells us how well each component works under realistic situations, from heavy workloads to low batteries to different data carriers. Users are entitled to an app that responds quickly to their requests, in any of a variety of scenarios.
Usability Testing: Usability testing goes beyond technical performance; tests are run with the mindset of the individuals who would use the app. Testers evaluate various “use case scenarios” that have been defined for the particular app. The goal is to ensure the design is intuitive, and that end users can enjoy the app without confusion or frustration.
Security (or Vulnerability) Testing: This testing is done to ensure there are no vulnerabilities or holes that could be exploited by hackers. Evaluating security risks is most important for apps that capture user data or other sensitive information.
Device and OS Testing: There are thousands of different mobile device models in existence, as well as numerous operating systems (OS) active at any given time. Device testing seeks to ensure that the app is going to look good and perform well across as many of them as possible.
Regression Testing: Adding new buttons, screens, or other components can break previous functionality. As a result, the app must be retested from the beginning after updates like these are added — and before an app is released to the store. Test planning and documentation are vital, since developers need to know what software version something worked in and when it stopped working.
In summary, mobile app quality testing is an essential investment to ensure the success of your app. There are many methodologies app developers employ to verify that the app will meet user expectations and function as flawlessly as possible. Reach out to us today if you want to learn more about mobile app quality assurance.