The Performance Beacon

The web performance, analytics, and optimization blog

The 7 steps to pragmatic mobile testing
(Step 2: Know your app)

Last week, I wrote about the game-changing impact of mobile on functional testing, beginning with the importance of knowing who your users are. This week, I want to build on that and talk about the importance of knowing exactly how people choose to use your app.

Traditionally, software testing has skewed toward functional testing:

  • Is the app working as it was designed?
  • Are the functions working properly?
  • Are there defects that impair usage?

The other end of the spectrum involves user testing:

  • Is the app working in the way the user is choosing to use it?

To properly perform user testing, you must know how your users prefer to use your app and where those preferences deviate from — or come into direct conflict with — how your app was intended to be used.

Engineers will build beautiful things like the steps pictured at the top of this post, but users have the final say and they will always beat another path that we never thought about. Why is it that our intended users beat a path over the ground-cover instead of taking the granite stairs that were carefully designed and installed? Were there too many steps? Were they at an uncomfortable height or pace? Or was it because 50 percent of the people who move through this area travel on bicycles?

When it comes to the design phase, the user is king

The designer’s intentions are no match for users who have specific goals and preferences. It doesn’t matter how you designed it. What matters is what the user wants. If an application end user finds a new way that is repeatable, we need to adjust and test for that use case. If you stick too closely to the functional testing scripts, chances are you’ll miss some very important user experiences – and possibly lose some customers along the way because you’re unaware of how they really use your app.

The bottom line: When it comes to customer satisfaction, testing is the last line of defense

This “user intimacy” helps you determine the difference between core functions and edge cases. Without this differentiation, the test matrix is merely a list of features. But customers don’t care about the features. They only care about the experience.

Download the report: The 7 Steps to Pragmatic Mobile Testing

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Dan Boutin

About the Author

Dan Boutin

Dan is the Vice President of Digital Strategy for SOASTA. In this role, Dan is responsible taking the world's first Digital Performance Management (DPM) solution to market as a trusted advisor for SOASTA's strategic customers, and changing the way ecommerce organizations approach the marketplace.

Follow @DanBoutinGNV