How to Do Usability Testing for Mobile Apps


Mobile App is a rather common problem that many entrepreneurs, as well as engineers, do not pay enough attention to usability testing. The customer-oriented approach to software development requires adding this stage to your processes or even engaging. Let’s find out more about usability testing for mobile applications.

A particular role here belongs to usability testing for mobile applications. Usability highlights the quality of user experience when using an app. It provides details on how the user interacts with the solution. It answers the question of whether people enjoy it or not. Finally, usability testing is a way to get qualitative and quantitative data about usability issues.

Qualitative data includes measuring expressions, movements, behavior, body language, eye movements, etc. The qualitative method is the analysis of metrics and statistics. What is meant here is the time spent using the app, the number of downloads, etc.

Testing of mobile applications is highly important for both entrepreneurs and users. Let’s discover the reasons:

Mobile App Benefits for Real Users

  • Increased satisfaction from using the mobile app
  • Positive impressions and experience
  • Faster and more efficient goal achievement, etc.

Mobile App Benefits for Business Owners

  • Minimized development and maintenance costs
  • Saved time
  • Opportunity to attract investments
  • Increased number of users, etc.

Read more: A Use Case for Proper Mobile Apps Development

5 Steps of Mobile App Usability Testing

When conducting usability testing, you need to simply follow 5 easy steps. Each of them answers specific questions and describes precisely what to do for the best result.

Step 1: Defining the Objectives

This stage requires detailed conversations and discussions. You need to get together with your development team in order to:

  • Create the roadmap
  • Define the target audience
  • Conduct research and find the most popular competing apps
  • Create a forecast
  • Estimate the project

No matter if you are a software engineer or a product owner, you should be ready to discuss every single detail, analyze what you know and what you would like to know. Only after you have a clear vision of the future product can you define the objectives and goals. Do not forget to prioritize them and decide on measurement methods.

Step 2: Set up the Tasks to Perform

The test user should take several steps to make sure everything is fine. So you need to choose the tasks accurately and organize them in a way of test scenarios. Each scenario has to reflect what the real user is going to do with the app. And each action should be:

  • Realistic
  • Understandable
  • Ordered in a sequence
  • Bound to others

While the QA is running the test, you need to measure the performance. Each step should take up to 3 seconds, no more. The longer the response is, the fewer downloads your mobile app will have.

Step 3: Choose the Test Participants

Testing mobile applications in terms of usability is a user-oriented approach, so the participation of real users is required. Your preparations, as well as the process itself, may take time and resources, but do not forget that the more effort and attention you devote to this task, the better results you will get.

You cannot create similar conditions for all the users, but you can identify the conditions that will help you to reveal the app’s weaknesses. For example, you can divide the users into groups depending on what device they use. Or, you can require that each participant uses the mobile app no less than three months before presenting the results. It all depends on the app’s goal, so take another look at Step 1.

The participants should embody your target audience. So, if you work on a mobile app game you better offer participation to teenagers than seniors. Or, if it is a budget planning app, it makes more sense to track the experience of adults than 10-year-olds.

An effective method here is designing user personas. That means that you, together with your team and partners, need to define what type of people will be using your mobile app. Define their gender, age, marital status, education, lifestyle, personal qualities to get the most accurate results.

Take note that security matters. You have to guarantee the highest level of data protection. Confidential usage is an essential detail. If there are some compensation terms, or if you require that the participants sign a special form, the security is even more important.

Step 4. Run the Mobile App Usability Testing

There are 2 ways to conduct testing:

  • In laboratory conditions
  • Remotely

Both of them are suitable as we are talking about software development and mobile apps that can be used anywhere in the world. However, running the test at the office gives you the possibility to control it completely. Laboratory testing allows observing participants’ behavior, reactions, impressions, and actions.

Laboratory-based usability testing consists of the following stages:

  • Welcoming official part
  • Initial interview
  • Performing the tasks
  • Questionnaire session
  • Debriefing

The advantage of remote testing is that you don’t have to invite the participants to your company. You save your and your colleagues’ time, as there is no need to monitor the users. Remote testing does not have defined stages. It can be conducted anytime, from anywhere.

Read more: Top Tips to Improve Experience Design

What Do You Need for a Mobile App Usability Test?

The answer to this question depends on which method of testing you choose. If remote testing is a better option for you, you don’t need any extra equipment to get the results. The users simply browse your app on their smartphones and present reports. And if laboratory testing seems a more suitable way, two kinds of equipment are required:

Camera or Web Camera

Use it to capture the user’s behavior and gestures. You can pick either a fixed-position or dynamic camera.

Recording Program

Special software is needed to project the process to the observer in real-time and record it.

A special role belongs to the test venue and the facilitator. If users visit your office to take part in testing, organize a room for them, take care of light and noise insulation. Users’ comfort means a lot for testing as well. You also need to appoint a responsible person to ensure that everything goes well and everyone performs the needed actions.

Final Thoughts

Usability testing is your chance to understand potential users. With this simple method, you can discover their needs, wishes, and desires. And the sooner you open the curtain to the great world of usability, the faster you’ll cater to the users’ wishes and outdrive the competitors.

The process is time-consuming, but it’s also your savior. The analysis is hard, but it’s worth it. From the moment you start implementing those techniques, you’ll understand their value. Success is a capricious creature; it may pass by and never come back. Don’t let it happen: test your app’s usability!.

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