WTEU-57 – Linking In to Mobile App Testing

WTEU-57 – Linking In to Mobile App Testing

Date: Sunday 17th May 2015
Time: 3.30pm – 5.30pm BST
Facilitator: Neil Studd
Attendees: Trisha Agarwal, Arax Aldovino, Claire Banks, Dean Barnes, Ojaswini Bhagwat, Daniel Billing, Kai Bischoff, Del Dewar, Lada Flac, Namita Jain, Emma Keaveny, Sushma Kumar, Stephen Janaway, Bhagya Mudiyanselage, Amy Phillips, Marine Serre, Ash Winter, Suma

This month, we took a wide look at the challenges associated with mobile testing. With the increasing availability of public wi-fi hotspots and high-speed mobile data plans, more and more users are choosing to access content on the move, on mobile or tablet devices. Designing for these users involves making difficult decisions about your content: how can you deliver a usable yet feature-rich experience on a much smaller screen? How do you design for a device which might not even have been released yet? And how do you manage your testing when a never-ending barrage of new phones could exponentially increase the perceived amount of work?

We began by brainstorming all of the domain-specific challenges which we could think of for mobile web and apps. Given that a large number of the group had no prior working experience of mobile testing, it was amazing how many considerations were suggested! The group were able to combine their own knowledge from using mobiles/tablets to produce a vast array of possible areas of risk, which Bhagya Mudivanselage compiled into the below mind-map (click on the thumbnail to open the full map on her blog):

wteu57_mobiletesting
Click to view full-size version on Bhagya’s blog

Simply by looking at this mind-map, it’s immediately obvious that there are many things to consider when producing mobile content; if anybody ever tells you “it’s just a mobile version of the desktop” then this diagram should convince them that there’s far more to it than that!

In the session’s main exercise, participants explored the LinkedIn app on their mobile devices, spending 20 minutes “going deep” on a feature of their choice (such as signup, jobs, connections). After this, we switched back to our desktop devices and tested the same feature in a desktop web browser, comparing the experiences. What sacrifices had been made for mobile? Were these changes beneficial to the user, or were they more beneficial to LinkedIn as a business? Were they successfully taking advantage of the benefits of running as an app?

In many cases, we found that the mobile app was a slimmed-down version of the desktop site, with advanced options simply not available in the app; as end-users, it wasn’t always clear where (or why) these differences had arisen. Hardware features were under-utilised, mostly limited to the camera (for profile avatars) and importing of address books, although Emma Keaveny discovered one usage of the “friend spam” dark pattern – the app sent LinkedIn invites via SMS to everyone in her address book, without making it clear that this would happen!

It was an energetic session which, from the start, really highlighted just how many factors there are to consider when looking at mobile testing. We’ll be running more mobile-themed sessions in the future, focusing on individual aspects of the above mind-map. We hope you can join us!

Further Reading:

About the Author

Neil is a tester from the United Kingdom who has been testing desktop, mobile and web applications for the past ten years, working in a range of agile roles for organisations as varied as Oracle and Last.fm. In his spare time, he participates in freelance and beta testing projects, as a way of learning and developing new approaches to testing.