Delivering a quality app is no longer a luxury that developers can avoid. Users nowadays have access to a huge catalog of apps that they simply don't have the patience for an app that they struggle using. 88% of app users will abandon apps based on bugs and glitches according to a study by Qualtrix. This means that more than ever mobile teams need to rigorously test their apps for everything from bugs and crashes to UX and usability. But how do you go about conducting usability testing on mobile apps?
First, we need to define what "usability" is. Basically, it’s how a product can be used by users to reach specified goals. Usability testing is aimed at discovering how usable your product is. This includes how easy to use and understandable your app is and its ability to satisfy the user’s needs effectively.
Similarly to UX testing, it evaluates how users interact with your app. But unlike usability testing, UX testing assesses how your app is perceived by the user. This measures and tests users for more emotional and behavioral responses to your app.
Best practices for usability testing mobile apps
To test effectively you want to know what are your metrics and optimize for them. Since you are testing how usable your app is it’s important to keep the users in mind. Here are some of the key aspects that you need to test for during usability testing:
The overarching theme of usability is how your users are able to reach their goals with your app. If your app is user friendly that means, to your users, your app is intuitive, easy to use, simple and reliable. This can be sometimes hard to quantify and can be very relative. The best way to go about testing for user friendliness is to subject more and more people to your app. By getting feedback from your target users you will be able to get insights into how user friendly your app is.
The flow of critical path
In essence, apps should be simple. They are usually designed to serve a key purpose. The path taken from launching an app to fulfilling this key purpose is known as the critical path of the app. This path will be where a huge majority of your users will spend their time on. And it is also your goal to keep your users on this path. Optimizing for the flow of your app’s critical path is one of the key challenges of development. So it’s essential that the critical path is tested rigorously for usability because that’s where users will spend most of their time. This can be broken down into how responsive, fast, smooth, and easy to follow the critical path is.
Apps don't have a lot of time to impress new users. It’s very important that users are taught simply and effectively how to achieve their desired purpose with the app. This is called bringing users onboard. Since the onboarding flow will be the first thing a new user will interact with inside your app, it needs to be intuitive, easy to follow, and effective. Getting first time users' feedback will be key to the onboarding part of the usability testing process.
A key aspect that is often overlooked is accessibility. Apps should be designed for everyone and testing how accessible they are is key for many users out there. If an app isn’t accessible, then it’s a complete deal-breaker for a large portion of users. Users can be more forgiving with a slightly slower app, but if it lacks accessibility for someone with a disability, it’s impossible for them to use your app. Testing the app with users with disabilities is the most important way to test for accessibility and making sure that your app supports assistive technologies.
How to get the best results from usability testing mobile apps
There are many tools that can help you test for usability. This includes dedicated usability testing services with labs designed to detect the slightest human reaction to the app experience. The core aspect of usability testing is user feedback. This can be accomplished by exposing a selection of your target audience to your app and testing for the metrics mentioned above.
User feedback can be gathered in two key ways: proactive and reactive feedback. Proactive feedback is basically going to users for their feedback. This is usually done with different forms of surveys. Reactive feedback, on the other hand, is feedback sent by the user unprompted. This can take a lot of forms but is usually done when users or testers are given a general directive of finding issues and then reporting them.
Setting up usability tests for mobile apps
To be able to test for usability, you need to expose your app to testing from your target users. To set up an effective test it needs early planning to know exactly how your app will need to be tested with the above metrics. Depending on how much exposition and testing your app needs, the decision should be made between testing internally only or set up an external test. In both cases, you would need a strong user feedback tool to get all the data you need both quantitative and qualitative.
Instabug for usability testing mobile apps
User in-app feedback reporting
Reactive feedback will be a large chunk of your data. In order to get the best feedback out of your users and testers, they need a simple yet effective tool to send all the feedback they wish. Instabug’s feedback reporting can be integrated right inside your app with one or two lines of code. Users can invoke Instabug in different simple ways such as shaking their device or taking a screenshot to start reporting issues. Customizable report categories will let help you bucket user feedback and keep them on topic.
Users will be able to annotate an attached screenshot, send a screen recording, or describe the issue at hand. And along with every report sent, a breadth of technical data is attached. Device and environment details, as well as detailed logs, will help you identify exactly how and why the issue is occurring. Repro steps will also help you reproduce the issue easily by giving you a step-by-step path the user took on each screen before reporting an issue.
Instabug is a comprehensive feedback tool and with the same integration, you will be able to send out seamless in-app surveys. With different surveys to choose from, including NPS and custom surveys that you can edit freely, you will be able to get both quantitative and qualitative data.
In-App Surveys can be targeted to users based on custom user attributes and events. This will let you make sure to not only ask the right questions to the right users, but also at the right time and place. You can ask a user how they felt about the onboarding experience right after it’s done, for example. Similarly, you can prompt a user about the critical flow or a new feature after the fifth time they’ve completed it. This level of freedom and seamless integration, coupled with in-app feedback reporting gives you the best tool to get the most out of your usability testing.
- The Basics of User Feedback Surveys for Mobile Apps
- Product Survey Questions for App Feedback
- TestFlight Beta Testing: Setting Up Effective Beta Tests
- Top Mobile App Design Tools