As we find ourselves in an increasingly mobile-first environment, the need for ongoing mobile compatibility evaluation has increased and made a sound mobile testing strategy critical for application developers and site owners. With nearly every American owning a personal cell phone, the likelihood of having a poor cross-device user experience warrants extensive testing. However, many companies and developers still don’t understand the value of testing and having an overarching strategy about how you are going to test your systems for mobile capabilities and ensure a consistent error-free user experience. Many Chief Information Officers do not have a formal testing strategy, leaving every new product open to interpretation in terms of what will be tested and how. With so many crucial display and functional details to verify, this lack of rigor has the potential to be very costly.
Users should be able to interact with your product no matter how their phone or tablet operates. Ensuring this, however, has become more complex as it’s become more crucial. For instance, basic details for application or software delivery such as the user’s screen size or resolution specs become quite complicated to manage with device proliferation. Though most phones are becoming totally touch-reliant, some users may still own BlackBerry phones or many older-model Nokia phones with offer non-touch screen phones, so you have to develop your mobile testing strategy to include approaches for devices with touch screens, QWERTY keypads and Trackball devices. While building new software to support old features is never easy, a solid framework of mobile testing strategies can help companies plan save time and create better user experiences.
Also, as operating systems have evolved, proliferated, and become more sophisticated, understanding your product’s performance across these various systems has proven difficult and important. Many systems these days vary in terms of processing speed and memory size, which will alter the product’s performance. Having a system and strategy for how you test current mobile operating systems and how you incorporate the additional formats that launch every day is paramount. You need to plan and have a clear strategy for how often and in what manner you will test and retest your applications to ensure your product will provide a desired user experience on virtually any phone in the market. Otherwise, you risk increased acquisition costs and poor user retention from the “gaps” you missed with an incomplete mobile testing strategy.
So what should you consider when testing? If you don’t currently have a mobile testing strategy there are a few strategies that you should think about:
- Know your environment. While there are many new phones coming out every season, there is always going to be an upper echelon where a majority of users are purchasing and using. For example, the Apple and Android market are currently front runners for devices, so you are at a huge disadvantage if your product does not function on the iOS or Android operating system.
- Test for now, but prepare for the future. As phones release nearly every six months, there’s no way to know what the mobile market will look like even within the next couple of years. Therefore, it is important to use the most current technologies, but allow yourself the flexibility to adapt to any major changes so that your product will last the test of time. This includes upgrades or work-arounds that allow the user to continue using your application even after changing phones.
- Pick what’s popular. With so many different options available, there’s virtually no way to test everything. But ensuring that your product will operate properly on most of the main devices currently around is well worth the time.
In this day and age, it’s absolutely critical that tech companies and any company interested in development have testing strategies for their products. Cutting edge companies like Google are testing mobile apps and seeing fantastic results. Without testing the right things, at the right time, errors will easily be missed at launch and the user will have a bad experience, ultimately deleting your app and missing out on your service. Develop mobile testing strategies for your applications now, or risk building products that create bad user experiences for your customers.