The Business of Mobile App Testing

mobile-cashWhen it comes to mobile app development, many developers find it difficult to strike a balance between visual appeal and practical functionality. The app must capture their interest, but it also has to serve a business purpose. Sometimes, an app does both. Sometimes, neither.

So how can brands, their developers and testers strike this perfect balance? For that we turn to App Developer Magazine, who highlighted a few such challenges and solutions in a recent post. Let’s take a look at a few in particular (paraphrased):

Deciding on the Placement of Mobile Advertisements

While mobile apps are created for consumer enjoyment, they’re also created to generate a profit. Thus, deciding upon the placement of advertisements within the mobile app is very crucial and sensitive. These advertisements need to be made as least intrusive as possible so that the users still enjoy the mobile app experience.

“When thinking of a monetization strategy such as advertising, developers must also cater to user experience first. When deciding where to place ads in the mobile app, developers must consider components such as screen size, screen orientation and ad relevance. The goal should be to place relevant ads in areas that are less intrusive to the overall user-experience, yet noticeable and enticing enough to engage the user.”

At first glance, this might not seem like the domain of a mobile app tester, but as we’re starting to see, ad placement is becoming a key focus area in terms of usability testing. Few things frustrate a user more than unwanted (and poorly placed) advertisements, so make sure you’re embedding them where it makes the most sense (and dollars).

Creating a Business Plan to Succeed

Developers and testers tend to think of app development from a purely technical perspective. Big mistake. In order to succeed in an increasing competitive app landscape, you’ll need to develop an actual business plan for your app. So what should mobile app developers focus on with said plan? Here are a few items mentioned by the author:

  • Both a descriptive name and description for the mobile app
  • Attention to visuals
  • List your mobile app in multiple mobile app stores
  • Broaden the target audience for the mobile app
  • Create a web page so that your mobile app has a “home base” your audience may visit
  • Engage your target audience on multiple social media channels
  • Potential consideration for cross promoting your mobile app

Again, while these areas are not specific to testers, they can certainly be applied towards the test scripts and scenarios that will later be covered.

Putting Users Privacy Fears to Rest There was a time when users blindly trusted the apps they downloaded to keep their personal information private. Those days are pretty much gone. Today, users want assurance that their sensitive information is not going to end up in the wrong hands, and will not be shared without their consent and knowledge.

A simple rule of thumb is to be honest and upfront with the user and share all privacy policy information including that from third parties. In addition, users often expect that Personally Identifiable should not be shared without consent. Developers must be explicit on what data is collected and shared, and why.

Additionally, in the current app ecosystem, different mobile ad networks operate on different parameters. Android operates on an open source platform, which allows flexibility and experimentation. This has enabled both developers and ad networks to come up with inventive ways of delivering marketing messages, including ads in push notifications, device browser resets and icon drops. As a best practice, if changes or installations are made to a user’s phone, make sure all changes and updates are accepted before implementing on the device. In general, the opt-in method will resonate better with users.

You might have the greatest app in terms of functionality and design, but if it exposes personal data to risk or shares it without their approval, it’s going to cost you users and revenue. Testers are the first (and last) line of defense in ensuring user safety.

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What other ways can testers contribute to the business of mobile apps? Be sure to share in the comments section below.

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