Mobile

The mobile testing challenge: How to improve your UX and prepare for the future

Mobile Design

It’s one of the biggest headaches for mobile developers and organizations launching mobile initiatives, and one where the most capital can be wasted: mobile testing.

Since testing can amount to as much as 10 percent of a mobile development budget, this headache can quickly avalanche into a disaster without the right direction and tools.

So what options are available to help companies get through this frustrating period before launching a mobile application? It’s easiest if you consider the four types of testing — unit, functional, data, and user experience — as building blocks that can be put together to create more comprehensive testing.

Unit testing: the basics

Put simply, unit testing is about testing individual functions in isolation. By testing each part of an application on its own, developers can detect problems before they reach the tester and ensure that QA and uniformity are part of the process from the beginning.

Functional testing: going through the motions

As a mobile “tester” goes through each motion in a test case, functional testing monitors the behavior of the application by examining the inputs and returns from each action that was called by the user — every swipe, tap, input, and other gesture.

As any developer would tell you, a poorly written defect is frustrating, and understanding what a tester did to produce an error is important. Using a concept we call “restrospection,” you can visually track what testers do and record a complete history of their actions that include lifecycle events.

Data testing: validating and integrating

With data testing, a mobile developer is looking to ensure integration quality and to validate the data before it reaches the application. This is one of the more critical steps for developers, as it can be a major hold up for mobile applications if backend systems are live but not functioning as expected, using a different version of code, or are undergoing development or updates themselves.

There’s nothing like opening up 50 or 60 tickets from testers when a backend system isn’t working like it should. So the holy grail here is to validate the data before it reaches the application, regardless of whether backend systems are live.

UX testing: getting it right the first time

There are several approaches to user experience testing out there that focus on text overruns/the location of a specific object on the screen including image comparisons using screenshots; but in my opinion the best approach is to do a user interface (UI) testing layout that focuses on the how items are aligned on a page.

When combined with a powerful mobile visualizer, you can truly compare and contrast the changes a developer has made to the layout of a mobile application. Further, user experience done well can help developers eliminate the challenges posed by using human testers.

The multi-channel problem: what’s coming down the road

As businesses start to move towards a multi-channel mobile strategy that aligns everything from a website to mobile apps to kiosks, they’re also going to need a way to test apps for all these channels. But if you thought just building a multi-channel app was hard, try finding a good way to test it.

At my company, one of our clients reported that prior to working with us, they spent a third of their launch timeline on testing. That’s just not going to be feasible as we move into a world where consumers and organizations want updated, fully functional mobile presences at the drop of a hat.

The reality is there are a plethora of products on the market that do portions of testing, but they often require you to buy separate testing suites for each channel — one for web, a bolt-on for mobile, etc. You also have to buy these tools from separate vendors, which adds the complexity of making sure they integrate and communicate well with each other.

What we’re going to see is a radically new and different approach to mobile testing. It’s an area ripe for innovation, where mobile testing will become significantly more automated. This will enable developers to leverage smaller building blocks earlier and give them the ability to build larger, consistent, and repeatable tests that are less costly and catch bugs early.

Raj Koneru is the CEO at mobile and multi-channel application platform provider, Kony Inc. Since founding Kony in 2007, Raj has spearheaded the development and continued innovation of the Kony platform. Raj has also co-founded several other businesses, including Intelligroup (NASDAQ: ITIG), Seranova (NASDAQ: SERA) and iTouchPoint, which was sold in 2005.

Image credit: Shutterstock


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