As the world becomes more digitally connected, mobile devices are rapidly becoming the go-to tool for a wide range of activities, from shopping and banking to entertainment. In fact, mobile app downloads have increased from 140 billion in 2016 to 255 billion in2022. With the rising usage of mobile apps, it's become essential for developers to prioritize crafting seamless experiences tailored to mobile users.
Conducting usability testing for mobile apps is essential to ensure that your app meets user expectations and functions flawlessly. Because mobile apps have different touchpoints and usage patterns than websites, factors such as screen size, resolution, and input methods can significantly impact their performance. By identifying these issues through usability testing for mobile apps, you can make the necessary changes to optimize your app and deliver an exceptional user experience.
For example, take the case of TCS, a global information services company based in India which plans to launch its own mental health app that includes gamification elements.To ensure that the app is user-friendly and meets the expectations of its audience, they are prioritizing the app’s usability testing by conducting an internal beta test with 900 employees. Post this, they will roll out the app to hospitals, insurance companies and partner organizations for proof of concept studies and subsequent monetization.
How does mobile usability differ from web usability testing?
Considering the difference in user behavior and device capabilities between mobile and website experience, here are a few key aspects to keep in mind when you conduct usability testing on mobiles:
Screen size and device types
The biggest (and most obvious) difference between web and mobile usability testing is the sizes of the devices that are used.Websites can be used across a range of devices, but mobile apps are often designed to suit smaller screens with limited capabilities compared to laptop or desktop screens. Usability testing for mobile apps needs to take this difference into account by testing the ease of interacting with smaller screens, evaluating how the device interacts with different device orientations and testing how easy it is to read on smaller screens.
Navigation and interactions
Users on mobile devices often have unique navigation and interaction patterns. For example, apps use gestures such as swiping or tapping, while websites rely on clicking and scrolling. Therefore, usability testing for mobile apps should ensure that these interactions are intuitive and easy to use.
Designers and developers should also consider how users might interact with the interface in different situations and contexts.For example, considering how users might act when they are using the app in a busy environment with multiple distractions will ensure that the app is still usable and effective in all situations.
Connectivity and speed
Mobile apps are often used on devices that have limited internet connectivity or with slow processing speeds. Therefore, it is important to consider how quickly the app responds to user interactions and manages battery life and data usage while conducting usability testing.
Security and privacy
Mobile apps often require additional information from users, such as location data or camera access, for better functionality. All mobile apps should therefore keep security and privacy concerns in mind while being designed. This could include testing how the app handles user data and testing the accuracy of features such as passwords and biometric authentication.
It is important to consider the demographics of your user base when conducting usability testing. Since mobile users vary in age, it is important to provide an experience that meets the needs of your users. For example, older users might find it complex to navigate and use certain aspects of your interface such as operating small buttons or reading small text. Make sure to consider every user’s need while conducting usability testing to create an accessible interface for all.
How to conduct usability testing for mobile apps
Here’s how you can conduct a usability test on mobile devices:
Step 1: Define the scope of your testing
Before you start testing, define the scope of your testing. Decide the user journey you want to test and ensure your app is compatible with both iOS and Android. This will help you to test the product thoroughly and identify any compatibility issues that may exist.
Step 2: Create a mobile-specific test plan
Plan the specific flow of the test and the scenarios you would like to test with your users. When planning the tasks, ensure that they can be completed with different input methods such as touchscreens. Also, keep in mind the unique challenges of mobile usage, such as smaller screens and different interaction patterns.
Step 3: Find the right participants for your test
Use tight screening questions to ensure you get the right set of users for your test. Make sure you add specific filters to ensure you get users already familiar with a mobile interface so that they don’t face any issues while completing the tasks. Doing this can ensure you get genuine feedback from the right user base.
Step 4: Conduct the test
Get users to complete the tasks on their mobile devices and ask any follow-up questions if needed. Make sure to keep the tone of your questions neutral so that you don’t influence their opinions.
Step 5: Analyze the results
List down all the relevant points of action from your study and pass them on to the relevant teams. Consider highlighting mobile-specific factors such as accessibility when analyzing the results.
Mobile usability testing is an essential process to ensure your mobile app meets all your users’ needs seamlessly and fix issues at an early stage. With Affect UX, you can conduct usability testing for mobile apps at every stage of the development process to ensure that you get actionable, unbiased insights that can help you create a delightful mobile experience for your users.