Posted on 06/29/2012 in Mobile App Testing
by Jamie Saine
Whether you’re using a mobile site or a native app, if it doesn’t make sense to you, if it isn’t intuitive, if the flow just feels awkward and wrong, odds are you’ll abandon it and just find a new app. But what’s right or intuitive or “makes sense” can be so subjective how in the world do you go about testing it?
Well, since we do a fair bit of usability testing at uTest, we thought we’d put all the clever tips, tricks and insights we’ve learned into one convenient place. The Keys to Mobile Usability is a free eBook that covers:
- Common challenges for both native apps and mobile web
- A special look at hybrid apps
- The pros and cons of moderated versus unmoderated and survey versus recoded testing
- What the mobile usability matrix looks like
- How in-the-wild testing can help make sure your application is usable by your actual end users
But, if you don’t feel like reading, we also have a recorded webinar featuring UX Expert (with more than 10 years of experience) Inge De Bleecker and uTest Product Marketing Manager Stanton Champion giving a great run-down of mobile usability.
If you’re concerned your app is losing users check out the eBook or webinar, because it just might be that your application isn’t that usable. Remember, if your customers can’t use it, then it doesn’t work.
Download The Keys to Mobile Usability now >>>
Posted on 04/20/2012 in App Development
, Mobile App Testing
by Jamie Saine
The debate has been raging for awhile: Which will win out? Mobile websites or native apps?
There have been solid arguments for both and even hybrid compromises (like native app icons that take you to a mobile site). But another melding of the two forms has just appeared in the form on CNET’s new mobile site.
In an article published yesterday CNET details how the design aesthetics of a native app influenced the redesign of their mobile site. The thought they put into their site is thorough and interesting and might just give mobile site designers a few ideas to think about and build on. Here’s what CNET did:
We know that there’s nothing as frustrating as a hard-to-navigate mobile Web site. There’s so little space on a phone screen that every pixel has to earn its keep. So when we redesigned our m.cnet.com site from the ground up, we took cues from something everyone knows and loves: mobile apps.
First, we simplified the layout of our mobile site and made its navigation familiar to anyone who uses Facebook, Path, or any other common mobile app. …
Just because m.cnet.com looks like an app doesn’t mean that is an app, though. Anytime you click a link that takes you to a CNET page on your phone’s browser, you’ll get this experience whether you’ve installed a CNET app or not. We’ve made our article pages clean and easy to read, with standard sharing navigation at the upper right.
Get more details at CNET >>>
Has anyone used the new CNET mobile site? What do you think of it? Is it intuitive and easy to navigate or did CNET miss their mark? Is the concept of “native app design for mobile web” something you think will or should catch on?
There’s a few major battles waging in the world of mobile: Android v. Apple; app market v. app market (v. app market … etc.); native app v. mobile web. In this post we’ll take a look at some recent stats concerning native apps and mobile websites.
Earlier this month Nielsen released a study that tracked mobile retail for four months. The report looked at 5,000 US-based Android and iOS phones leading up to, during and following the recent holiday season. Here are a few key points, gleaned from articles in TechCrunch and Gigaom:
- Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart and eBay were the top retailers
- 60% of smartphone users visited a retail mobile site or app
- Mobile sites comprised 51% of visits while native apps scored 28%
- Men are more likely than women to use a native app
- Native apps attracted half as many people as mobile sites each month of the study
- Target’s and Walmart’s mobile site attracted mostly women
- Best Buy attracted more male visitors
- eBay and Amazon saw a fairly even split
- Amazon’s mobile site reached far more visitors than the other retailers’ sites
- Visitors spend more time on an app than on a mobile site
For more information read the articles at TechCrunch and Gigaom.
Posted on 06/07/2011 in Mobile App Testing
by Mike Brown
We’ve covered (at great length) the difference between native apps and the mobile web from a testing perspective, but never from an overall business perspective. For that, here’s a nice infographic from the zabisco.com blog:
Posted on 05/12/2011 in Mobile App Media
, Mobile App Testing
by Mike Brown
You know what needs to be done. Yes, you’ve worked hard to develop, test and optimize your mobile site (or native app). But guess what? It’s time to blow it all up and start over. Sound unreasonable? Take a look at what Twitter recently did:
Twitter has redesigned its mobile website using HTML5,turning it into a Web app, which allows the social network’s mobile site to look and act more like the native Twitter apps available on smartphones.
Penner said in a blog post about the update that Twitter scrapped its old mobile site and built the new version ”from the ground up for smartphones and tablets, which have more advanced browsers that support the latest Web technologies, including HTML5.”
The same functions found in Twitter’s smartphone apps are there in the HTML5 mobile site, including the ability to quickly scroll through a user’s timeline, move between tabs to see @mentions and direct messages, search and view trending topics and lists, and of course, write Tweets, she said.
But the HTML5 verison of the mobile site can’t yet be viewed on every smartphone on the market, Penner said.
Read the rest of the article >>
Posted on 05/11/2011 in Mobile App Testing
by Mike Brown
We’ve spent a great deal of time on this blog discussing the testing implications of native apps vs. the mobile web. While the mobile web has continually been written off as “dying” , “obsolete” and “inferior” by many of the experts, everyday mobile users tell a different story….
TechCrunch recently analyzed a report by mobile advertising firm Jumptap, which found that 58% of mobile users get their content via the mobile web and NOT from native apps. Here’s a few selected quotes from the article:
An explanation for the discrepancy was not given, but I suspect this has something to do with there simply existing more websites than there are apps, and that jumping from one app to the next to consume content isn’t as good a user experience as simply opening a new page or tab within your mobile browser of choice.
Additionally, a lot of major Internet services (Gmail, Bing, Google search etc.) tend to function as good or even better through the mobile browser than via native apps.
To put together the report, freshly funded Jumptap analyzed 10 billion ad requests on its mobile advertising network, made by 83 million unique users. The company not only looked at content consumption from mobile handsets, but also at how well users respond to mobile advertising, finding that ad engagement trends upwards with age and income.
With users still essentially split between native apps and the mobile web, testers will need to continue refining their skills in both areas until a clear winner emerges.
Posted on 05/06/2011 in Mobile App Testing
by Mike Brown
Your mobile testing objectives will depend heavily on the overall strategy you choose to employ. Here, the main choice is between developing a native app or a mobile website. Are you looking for one common platform with a consistent look and feel, or are you looking for lights out usability at the expense of expense or alienating entire device families? It’s not an easy choice and it is ultimately dependent on your business model.
That said, let’s take a look the benefits and drawbacks of both approaches:
- Single platform (the web)
- One app to build, launch and maintain
- All that’s needed for some companies
- Less controlled user experience
- Slower user experience
- No app store distribution
- Lack of standards across mobile browsers
- Rich media functionality
- Controlled user experience
- Faster experience for users
- App store distribution
- Must build, test and maintain multiple apps
- Not necessary for some companies
Here’s usability guru’s Jakob Nielsen’s take on the matter:
I just posted a Testing the Limits interview with Jakob Nielsen – aka the King of Usability – over on the uTest Blog. The subject matter will of great interest to readers of this blog, as we had an in-depth discussion on the past, present and future of mobile applications. Here are a few clips where he discusses native apps vs. the mobile web, tablet usability issues and his take on the iPhone vs. Android situation.
On native apps vs. the mobile web:
JN: Apps are superior for 3 reasons:
- Empirically, users perform better with apps than with mobile sites in user testing.
- Apps are much better at supporting disconnected use and poor connectivity, both of which will continue to be important use cases for years to come. When I’m in London and don’t feel like being robbed by “roaming” fees, any native mapping app will beat Google Maps at getting me to the British Museum.
- Apps can be optimized for the specific hardware on each device. This will become more important in the future, as we get a broader range of devices.
Apps have the obvious downside of requiring more development resources, especially to be truly optimized for each device. If a company doesn’t have enough resources to do this right, it’s better to have a nice mobile site than a lame app.
A second downside of apps is that users have to install them. Our testing shows poor findability and usability in Apple’s Application Store, and many users won’t even bother downloading something at all for intermittent use. So ask yourself whether you’re really offering something within the hardcore mobile center of need: time-sensitive and/or location dependent, and whether your offer is truly compelling in this crowded space. Most companies are never going to make it big in mobile. In some cases all they need is to make their main website somewhat mobile-friendly. Many others should deliver a dedicated mobile site but not bother with apps.
On usability problems with tablets:
Posted on 02/28/2011 in iOS App Testing
, uTest Stuff
by Mike Brown
The following post was written by mobile app tester Dom Wolf as part of uTest’s “Crash Courses” series. You can read similar posts in the uTest Forums (membership required).
Background: The release of the iPhone in 2007 introduced not only a new product, but also a new dichotomy to the world of software testing. The iPhone was the first mainstream phone to feature a touchscreen coupled with a 3G/Wi-Fi enabled web browser; two things that caused web developers to consider not only how their sites would appear, but also how they would be interacted with in such a different way.
Approximately one year after the launch of the iPhone, the iPhone SDK and App Store were introduced. The popularity of the iPhone at this point spurred many developers to submit applications at an unprecedented rate. Some apps were simple utilities, easily to develop and easy to test. Some, on the other hand, made use of many frameworks built within the newly introduced iOS and were incredibly complex. As the store’s popularity grew, Apple found itself on the receiving end of criticism over the content, and reliability of applications being submitted. The latter point is where we come in.
So there are two deliverables that are typically evaluated through uTest – native applications and mobile sites (this includes so-called web-apps, which are basically extensions to a mobile or web site). For the most part, the same test procedures can be applied to both types of deliverable, and this is what will be covered in this Crash Course. There may be some forms of testing which are deemed out of scope for a particular project you’re working on.
It’s paramount that you check the scope before you start testing and raising bugs. Not doing so could lead to having bugs rejected, which may affect your eligibility to take part in future releases. So, assuming that nothing is considered ‘out of scope’, we could include testing of the following:
Posted on 07/08/2010 in Mobile App Testing
by Mike Brown
Though it was written with developers and designers in mind, Mashable’s “5 Things to Consider When Designing Your Mobile App” reads more like a how-to guide for mobile application testers – covering the basics of native apps vs. mobile web, screen size, user location, UI intuitiveness and other common design issues.
Of course, when these issues are not dealt with properly on the developer/designer side, they eventually become the problem of mobile test engineers. So with that in mind, let’s take a quick look at their five things to consider:
1. Weigh the Options — Mobile App or Mobile Website?
“Do you need a mobile application, a mobile website, or both? Before even starting the design process, you need to figure out what format or formats are best suited for your goals. Sometimes this can be really easy. For example, if you want to build a utility or game, you may be better served building a native application rather than worrying about how different mobile browsers will interpret your content.”
2. Consider Where Your App Will Be Used
“Once you’ve decided to make a native mobile app, you’ll want to consider where your application is most likely going to be used. This is important because where and how an application is used can directly impact how it can be designed.
For instance, if you have an application that is going to be used while walking around — a geo-location app or an app that takes advantage of a device’s GPS — making sure that core app functions are easy to see and access is very important.”