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Everything You Need To Know About Mobile App Usability Testing

Ashish Chauhan By Ashish Chauhan | March 7, 2020
app usability

The mobile app industry is growing at a tremendous rate due to the increase in market demand. Even the reputed companies are coming up with an idea of an app and merging it with their business model and design.

As a result, mobile apps are gaining a lot of popularity in terms of planning and execution. It is essential to ensure that app usability is topnotch in the software or an app. 

App usability testing is done to enhance the experience of users while understanding their wishes and intentions. In addition to this, the performance of the apps is also checked up and major chances are done while developing additional functionalities to it.

Is website usability different from app usability?

Yes, website usability is a bit easy to understand as compared to app usability. The motive of usability testing is to give the best experience to the users and giving pleasure in a way that makes users come back again and again.

On the flip side of the coin, there are instances when usability testing of mobile applications can result in the doom. It tends to UX fails, crashes, and bugs that make apps not even cross the first level. 

What Is Mobile App Usability Testing?

Read More: Mobile App Testing Guide

Mobile usability testing is a major component that determines the aspects that one must test. It requires a usability test plan that is included as a blueprint for testing with no specific structure. There are a number of sections included in the app usability such as:

  • Goals, and purpose of the test
  • Research questions
  • Participant characteristics
  • Test design methods
  • Task list
  • Test environment, logistics, and equipment
  • Test facilitator role
  • Data collections and measures
  • Content report and presentation

This can give a brief understanding of “what is usability testing”. The app usability plan includes a specific order to wrap up the mobile app usability aspects as mentioned below:

What is Mobile App Usability Testing


#1 Test Objectives

The straight goals are the first and foremost part of the mobile usability test that includes the aspects that one requires to focus upon. What are the major aspects or hypotheses that will be covered up in the app usability? 

Setting up the goals includes various things such as the methodologies and questions that can brainstorm the stakeholder’s minds. Along with this, it helps in exploring major areas such as markets, users, app roadmaps, app competitors, scope, timing, and potential impact in the market.

In brief, the major parts that are included to get deep insight is with identifiable goals such as measurable, prioritized, specific, etc. for the mobile usability test.

#2 Performed Tasks

Once the goals of the app usability test are stated, it is essential to set up the tasks for the next step. These tasks are mainly to ensure that performance is done in a better way with test users that will include sign up an account, register an account, friend request, and upload photos.

The task scenarios should be developed instead of test users that offer context on the task need. In addition to this, it gives out a natural lookout for the application performance setting up the task scenarios.

The mobile usability test scenarios include actionable, realistic, and sequence order for the smooth session. Additionally, the test must be integrated with the objectives to perform a dry run. It is to ensure that the performance of the app will be as per the objectives.

#3 App Usability Test Documents

App usability requires a number of documents to ensure that things are listed. However, the document content can vary but it does require a few things such as consent forms for the adults and minors. 

It also requires a post-test questionnaire that follows up two simple post-test questions. The range of these questions is set as per standards such as SUS (System Usability Scale) and PSSUQ (Post-Study Usability Questionnaire).

These are just a few documentation requirements. However, it can add a few more that can be checked on the usability.gov site. 

#4 Test Participants

The user-oriented testing technique is the one that is added for the usability testing of mobile applications. The motive is to ensure that the app intends is to the point and real users are able to gain the realistic tasks offered.

There is always the factor of resource-consumption that makes real-users testing a bit difficult. However, it can result in more accurate results with realistic scenarios. It is best to include test participants in the usability testing on mobile devices.

It will help in getting an insight into the app and gives a clear understanding of difficulties in the app used in the device. In addition to this, the test participants’ devices can reveal issues that are not visible in the high-end emulators.

This form of app usability step can help in taking a step forward but a few things must be kept in mind such as:

  • User persona
  • Operating system of the device
  • Stage of the app. Is it at the development phase? Testing phase? Then a lot of bugs are on your way.
  • Availability and frequency to cover up the intent of the test.
  • Sign in the consent form for the app usability test participants.
  • Compensation terms

In order to find the right candidate, it is best to have the user persona set to get the potential of the apps. Hence, during the recruitment process, it is essential to make sure that the participant is part of the target audience.

#5 Mobile App Usability Testing Methodologies

The app usability testing works on two methods that have their own pros and cons. One of them is a laboratory-based mobile usability test whereas the other is remote usability testing. These methodologies are used to obtain the right results

User Experience Testing Vs App Usability Testing

Now you will have a clear understanding of what is usability testing and its major aspects that we need to keep in mind. Let us move forward with the major difference of app mobile usability testing and user experience. 

User Experience and Usability Testing are two major testing methods that are different from each other. 

User experience is mainly about the app or product perception that a user has. It depends upon the gaze movements, emotions, key details, and preferences that a user possesses after using an app.

Whereas app usability testing is about the product that is goals-oriented. The aims include understandable, easy to use, and user satisfaction. However, it is essential to focus on both types of testing to get an ideal solution.

Mobile Usability Testing Factors

If you are considering going for app usability, it is essential to be aware of the vital factors. It will give a deeper understanding of the testing and is much wider than these points explained below:

Mobile Usability Testing Factors

#1 Mobile Devices

When it comes to the Usability Testing Of Mobile Applications, it is essential to be aware of the target device for the app. There are so many devices available in the market that makes it essential for the tester to narrow down the options to ensure that all components are covered. 

As a result, user persona must be narrowed down to use different devices such as tablets, mobiles, and so on. It is extremely vital to check the app usability that can take the development to the next level.

This will give an idea of the type of devices the app will be available upon and its similar idea that will be followed.

#2 Operating System

Mobile app usability testing depends widely upon the operating system that targets the majority of the potential audience. The app test can be completed as per the priority for every step and followed by the launch of the app. It is to give an insight into a different aspect of the app that is advisable to follow for the developers.

#3 Target Audience Demography

When it comes to targeting the potential audience, it is essential to focus on age, location, gender, and even income. There are major relevant details added up for app usability as per the requirement. These details help the tester to understand the features and preferences of the app.

It is essential to keep the demographics in mind that can work as one of the major mobile app usability testing tools. It helps in getting the appropriate samples and includes the features to ensure that usability testing is done accurately.

#4 User Experience

As mentioned above, Usability Testing Of Mobile Applications works for several screen sizes and layouts. User experience is included in usability testing to ensure that the app is running smoothly and no major hitches can affect it.

Another aspect is the information that is included in the app such as QWERTY keyboards and dial wheels. In addition to this, it also includes the preferences of users that make it an essential point to keep in mind.

The mobile usability test includes the locations to ensure that the apps can access the real-time location of users to offer topnotch services. The geolocation features hold a lot of importance in the app at the present time that can influence user experience.

What Do Developers Need To Keep In Mind With App Usability?

There are a number of things that developers need to consider when it comes to mobile app usability testing. For better insight, here are the major points that developers need to keep in mind.

Accessibility Norms – The developers need to focus on the features implemented in the website and apps such as video, audio, and images. It should have a good color contrast ratio with respect to text, background, labels, etc. 

Multiple Languages – The app must support several languages across the countries to avoid any linguistic barrier for the audience.

Minimum User Input – It is essential to focus upon the autofill feature to ensure that users only input minimum data. It increases user engagement and decreases efforts. 

Hang & Crash – It is vital to take a note of the hang and freeze option that helps in spotting the abnormal behavior of the app and enhance app usability.

App Speed – Another factor that must be kept in mind is the bounce rate of the app. It should start slow and must enhance the user interaction to ensure that users don’t uninstall the app. 

Varied Versions & Platforms – Cross-platform apps are an essential addition for the users in the present world. There are several versions available in the market in the form of iOS 13 and Android 10.0, etc. that must be covered by developers.

What Do Designers Need To Keep In Mind With App Usability?

When it comes to designers, there is another major usability testing of mobile applications that must be kept in mind. Here is a glimpse into the world to get an insight.

Easy Navigation – The users must be able to navigate between the app pages easily to utilize the research methods. The information architecture should be evaluated properly to ensure that app usability is maintained.

Landscape Mode – When it comes to developing apps it is essential to add on every mode including landscape. The content should be imperative in nature to align the elements of the app.

Designing Grids – The app consistent should look like the grid form to ensure that the designs are not cluttered. It should include spacing, margins, hierarchy, etc. to showcase the right placement of the elements.

Onboarding – The usability testing of mobile applications should be appropriately done before the onboarding process. The process includes a clear and concise mode to ensure that things are followed correctly. For a major solution, it is best to follow the tutorial that allows users to explore the apps.

Steps – If someone asks you to take a hundred steps to reach your destination that is 10 steps away, you will be frustrated. Hence, it is essential to make sure that users get the information and can navigate in minimum steps to reach goals.

Finger Interaction – The app usability includes the interaction of users with the buttons and cursors. Due to this, the size of the button is fixed to ensure that the usability is enhanced.

Common Ways For Mobile App Usability Testing

Read More: How to increase app user engagement

There are a number of common ways with which the app usability can be achieved easily. Here is a list of ways with which it will be easy to achieve it.

Small Groups – The best way to move forward with the app usability is to get valuable insights and work on prototyping stage. It also includes the ideal set selection to build an ideal app to give a good direction. 

App Testing With Team – It is best to include other team members to check it on different levels with several perspectives. It is best to send out deals, discounts, and coupons to ensure that beta testing can be done. 

Device Testing – The test should be done to ensure that user experience is maintained in devices. It is essential to follow to ensure that the misbehavior of apps can be tracked. 

Social Circle – The family members and friends must work for the fittest to check on the categories of the app user persona. This helps in simplifying the mobile app usability testing to keep things maintained.

Methods To Run Mobile App Usability Testing

Now comes the question of how to evaluate mobile apps usability. It is mainly about conducting the testing as per the usability testing of the app and checking the methodologies to ensure that the test conducted is to the point.

The app usability test mainly includes remote and lab method testing through which the mobile apps can be checked out. Both of these methods are extremely unique in nature including its disadvantages and advantages as the answer to “how to do usability testing”.

Let us understand the mobile app usability testing methods to pay attention to it.

Lab-Based Methods

Lab-based app usability is done with a number of individuals that can perform the task to ensure that the app is topnotch. The important components include optional webcam, cameras, test location, recording software, and test facilitator. 

Webcam – It is not the compulsory addition but it can be a great option to interact with the app to complete mobile app usability testing. In addition to this, the facial expression of the participants can be recorded with it that gives an insight into the topnotch or lower features.

Camera – This is used to record the participant’s move that is using the app. Mainly two camera positions are selected (one stationary and another cradle). This setup can send accurate results but have some disadvantages such as durability, and location of the person.

Test Location – The testing was completed in the special labs. Nevertheless, with time, it is changed and bigger teams and equipped laboratories are no longer a necessity. 

Recording Software – The software is used for app usability to check the analysis data that is visible on the screen. Along with this, the particular software is used to monitor the display via a network that gives insight on the smoothness.

Test Facilitator – The major job of the facilitator is to ensure that the test plan is working smoothly. Its motive is to address the complication and understand what is shown on the screen.

Remote Testing

It is a method that works on the insight platform that helps in interacting with the product. It can be done in any natural environment such as office, home, and specific location. Along with this, the app usability with the remote methods is done in two manners unmoderated and moderated. 

Moderated flow is the one that works back and forth in terms of facilitator and participants. The questions are put forward by Facilitators and check out the issues once the tasks are wrapped up during app usability. On one line the question is asked on time and on another line is for a user. Silence on this line means the user is looking around the page, immersed in content, confused, and distracted. 

Unmoderated flow is the one in which the participants are alone with no real-time interactions with facilitators. There are predefined follow-up questions asked to get the user insight into the session. However, the detailed question is never a question to check the user’s actions in mobile app usability testing.

Since it is now clear, let us give you an insight into the mobile app usability testing tools to get a better idea about it.

What is Mobile App Usability Testing


Final Thoughts

Mobile app usability testing is the major component that works on user experience at several app development stages. However, it is not a single time thing and needs to be followed at different stages. The user base of the app is included in the app usability that can be represented with the demographics of the app.

As a simple matter, the usability can be checked and worked upon to create, rectify, and test the app. It is to smoothen up the app experience for users and ensure that app usability can be done accordingly. 

Ashish Chauhan
Ashish Chauhan

Co-Founder and VP Mobile Architect at Appventurez. An expert programmer who is passionate and loves to explore emerging mobile technologies. As a leader, he is a perfect match as he is always there for the team to help and guide them to learn and implement smartly and effectively.

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