Upcoming Webinar: Mobile Usability & What You Need to Know

Update: If you missed the webinar, no worries, watch the recording anytime. Or download our free Mobile Usability eBook.

Are you a mobile app designer or developer who’s confused about usability? Or maybe you just wish you knew more. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. In fact, mobile usability is still a great mystery for the vast majority of developers and testers today. Both the processes and tools are immature, and there are few best practices and guidelines.

uTest wants to help, and we’re joining forces with usability expert Inge De Bleecker for a free webinar that will show you some of the best practices for mobile usability. Join us this Thursday June 28th at 2:00 PM ET, and you’ll learn:

  • The right things to consider when building mobile apps and mobile websites
  • Future trends that could change how you think about mobile development and usability
  • Tips and tools for usability testing your mobile apps and websites

At the conclusion of the webinar, we will also send you a free copy of our newest eBook about mobile usability. Be one of the first to receive this eBook with great tips and advice for your mobile projects.

Interested? Register here >>

Testing Lessons From Google Wallet

By now you’ve probably heard all about Google Wallet, the app that “makes your phone your wallet.” What you might not have heard is the fascinating testing story behind it’s evolution, involving none other than credit card giant MasterCard. Here’s an interesting example of how listening to your users can make all the difference.

What MasterCard Learned From Testing Google’s ‘Google Wallet’ App

Early users also found the technology awkward at first. Some tended to rub their phones directly on the readers even though the app works via the short-range wireless technology Near Field Communication (NFC). Some people also presented the wrong (meaning inactive) side of the phone to the readers.

Those quirks resolved themselves quickly, generally within the second or third use of the app, according to McLaughlin. “People adapt fast,” he added. “Once they did it a few times, they didn’t go back.”

A few aspects of Google Wallet confused users more. Testers said they wanted a clearer way to find places they could use the new app. That led MasterCard to place more emphasis on what it calls its locator service. The PayPass locator is part of the overall Google Wallet app and displays PayPass locations on Google Maps.

Another change MasterCard made based on user feedback was to add a sound that verifies the Google Wallet app has been successfully deployed. In surveys, testers indicated they wanted that type of audible confirmation, said McLaughlin.

Read the rest >>>

Guidelines for Mobile App Usability

Mobile usability (or lack thereof) is a frequent topic of conversation on this blog, as any healthy regiment of mobile app testing should include usability. To save you the work of making such changes after extensive development efforts, we present you with a nice set of mobile usability guidelines courtesy of smashingmagazine.com. Here’s the intro:

A positive first impression is essential to relationships. People look for trust and integrity, and they expect subsequent encounters to reflect and reinforce their first impression. The same principles apply to brands and their products. Design plays an important role in building lasting relationships with end users and, thus, in supporting the brand’s promise.

Users expect mobile services to be relevant and user-friendly and to perform well. The limitations of the medium, however, impose significant challenges to designing products that meet all of those expectations. While often underestimated, performance is a crucial contributor to a trustworthy mobile user experience. Therefore, it should be considered a key driver in the design process.

In this article, we’ll discuss performance in relation to design and present seven guidelines that can help shape design decisions related to performance while accounting for the needs of end users and businesses. These guidelines are based on the experiences of our teams in designing native mobile apps for a broad product portfolio and on multiple mobile platforms.

Read the seven guidelines here >>>

All Your Mobile Search Are Belong To Us (Google)

Meet the mobile search boss, same as the web search boss:

So what makes Google such an unstoppable force in mobile search? It likely comes down to mobile website performance: According to the Yankee Group’s third annual mobile site survey, Google beats all rivals across a host of usability metrics including page loading speeds, the volume of data downloaded, access reliability and the frequency and types of mobile ads served. Google scored 81 points in the Yankee Group mobile website trial, followed by Bing at 70 points and AOL at 69–Google owes its top ranking to factors like support for location-based services, reduced advertising and voice-enabled search functionality as well as its user-friendly interface and speedy response times. (from FierceMobileContent.com)

There you have it. Google performs best where it matters most, and it shows up across the board. You’ll notice that the criteria employed by the Yankee Group is also the criteria used by companies when testing their mobile applications.

Update: Before the grammar police arrest me over the title of the post, I would like to point out that it is a spoof of this famous incident.

How to Design a Mobile Site

Step One: Copy these six mobile sites highlighted by Mashable. Here’s a preview of the article:

It’s true: the mobile web is taking over the world, and by 2015, many predict it will be larger than desktop Internet use. It’s no wonder everybody’s racing to build mobile versions of their websites.

Some are simply better than others, though. While many companies just build stripped-down versions of their current sites with a few links and maybe an image, others have taken the time and energy to really think about the advantages of mobile and truly become destinations that can be accessed on any platform. These well-designed mobile sites provide a glimpse into what we can expect in the future.

For now though, here are six examples of brilliantly designed mobile sites, chosen from six different verticals. We couldn’t cover them all, so we encourage you to add your own favorites in the comments below.

1. CBS.com

It took about 10 seconds for me to go from loading the homepage to watching a full episode of MacGuyver on CBS.com.

CBS is amazing to behold on a smartphone. It presents you with exactly what you want: TV shows. On both Android (Android) and the iPhone, it took only two clicks to play clips from hot shows such as NCIS or stream full episodes of classic shows such as Star Trek. There’s no way around it: it makes you want to keep coming back.

While NBC doesn’t boast full TV episodes, its video library is also easy to access via mobile.

Find out what other mobile sites made their list.

Apple vs. Flash: What It Means For Mobile App Testing

“The future is bright for Flash,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “I hope it sticks around for decades to come. I really respect those guys over at Adobe.”

Kidding, kidding. According to this recent Wired story, what he really said was that Flash will KILL the mobile web if left to its own devices (no pun intended).

(UPDATE: Apple Facing Antitrust Inquiry Over Flash-to-iPhone Complier Ban?)

We’ve covered this before, and Stanton Champion wrote an excellent contrarian piece on this subject titled 5 Reasons Flash Is Here To Stay, but these latest developments highlight a new level of animosity that we just couldn’t resist. That, plus it has some major mobile testing implications. Here’s a telling excerpt from the Wired piece:

But the new public remarks echo some he made in private at a recent Apple Town Hall meeting where he disparaged Adobe as “lazy.” Now the Apple CEO says he has many technical and philosophical problems with Flash — six, to be precise — which would appear to make their differences irreconcilable.

“Flash was created during the PC era — for PCs and mice,” Jobs writes. “Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low-power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.”

Here is Steve Job’s entire blog post, where he discusses mobile usability, video formatting, mobile security and other topics near and dear to today’s mobile testers.

Read more…

BlackBerry OS 6.0 Leaked (well, sort of)

It wasn’t left behind in a bar, but BoyGeniusReport.com has obtained some pretty cool screenshots and details about the new BlackBerry OS. So do they like what they see? You bet. Below are a few excerpts, but you should go read the article.

Usability
“RIM has finally implemented system-wide kinetic scrolling with rubberbanding. This makes the experience a bit more fluid when scrolling through lists, web pages, emails, and the like. There is also multitouch system-wide, from the web browser to the photos application, and yes, pinch to zoom is in there.”

Email Inbox
“Things look a bit cleaner, and a bit more modern, but it’s obviously not a huge departure from what we have now, just another evolutionary upgrade which is par for the course with RIM. But, we definitely do like the look of the new inbox. It also features larger thumbnails to the left of each message to identify the type of message (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and we even saw RSS feeds built right in which looked great. We can’t describe this part… but the new inbox feels right. It’s not all work and dry, and it’s not over the top with cheesy graphics or animations, rather a nice compromise of the two.”

Read more…