What is Field Testing Explained With Examples

What is Field Testing? Explained With Examples

Before buying any smartphone, do you usually give it a check as per your needs? A trial run is always the best idea if you wish to encounter no problems with the product during use. Similarly, prior to launching any mobile application (or a website, for that matter), field testing is important. It checks the ability of the application to function under real-life conditions before it is released to the users.

Let’s see how field testing is critical for testing every mobile application today.

What is Field Testing?

Field testing refers to the process of testing and evaluating an application in real-world conditions outside of the controlled development environment. Testers deploy this approach for both web and mobile applications with the aim of gathering real-user feedback and identifying any issues or potential improvements before the official release.

In mobile, it involves deploying the app to actual devices and having users interact with it in their everyday environments. Typically, the testing is done on mobile networks only. It is a type of mobile testing.

Field testing checks the app on various devices, operating systems, and network conditions to assess its performance, functionality, usability, and overall user experience. The goal is to uncover issues and collect feedback that went unnoticed during the development and testing phases.

One fascinating aspect of field tests is the discovery of unexpected user behaviors and usage patterns. Despite extensive testing during development, field testing often uncovers unique scenarios that developers may not have anticipated. These scenarios could include different network conditions, diverse device configurations, or user interactions that were not replicated in the testing environment. By conducting field testing, developers gain valuable insights into how their app performs in the hands of real users, allowing them to identify and address any issues or optimizations needed for a better user experience.

Why is Field Testing Important?

Field tests are a perfect way of experimenting with your product before launching it to your customer base. The short time window between the final testing and the release date is when the field test is performed. The process allows you to:

  • Gain access to unhinged feedback from a small portion of users who interact with the application.
  • Develop products that are error-free and ready for launch.
  • Collect critical data that are essential to improve the application and its features.
  • Work on new features and upgrades for the future.
  • Use the test data from the users for other purposes, such as sales and marketing.

Who Does Field Testing?

Since field testing is done at the last stage of development, product managers, marketing managers, and the support team takes care of the process. They provide the application access to users and gain maximum insight from their feedback.

When Does Field Testing Happen?

Field testing in software testing occurs at the later stage of application development. It comes even after alpha and beta testing. And because the application is made available to only a few users, field testing is also called a limited release or soft launch. The right hierarchy of testing is given below:

Alpha testing -> Beta testing -> Field testing -> Application launch -> Support

Field Testing and Test Automation

Field testing involves a few users checking out the application before releasing it to all the customers. It’s like ‘playing the field’ before the main game starts. And because users interact with the app on their own, there is no room for automation in this scenario.

However, there might come instances after field testing is complete where you would need automation. That is when you receive feedback from the users, which requires you to address bugs or features that went unnoticed before. Such insights give rise to new test cases, which can be automated using the right tools to save time and cost. And surely, an effective approach here is to go for a test automation tool, such as Testsigma, to run all the test cases.

It is a powerful, AI-powered tool that easily supports web and mobile application testing. The simple interface and no-code testing make the tool a go-to option for less complex tests that do not need many resources, which might often be the case after field testing. Testsigma provides a cloud-based testing platform that supports end-to-end test automation for mobile applications. It allows testers to create and execute test scripts across different devices, operating systems, and network conditions.



For instance, let’s consider a simple mobile application that involves searching and sorting products as per their category. Clothes go into apparel, laptops and mobiles are under electronics, medicine and household products are under essentials, and so on. With Testsigma, field tests for this application can be automated after you receive suggestions from the limited user base. You can design test scripts to run regression tests and validate the right sorting with their cost and usage.

How to Run a Field Test?

Like other user tests, field testing offers a multi-step approach that includes planning, designing, testing, and analyzing reports. Let’s look at these steps individually.

  • Planning: Clearly, every process begins with the planning phase. It consists of a simple and concise document outlining the goals, objectives, deadline, authority, and results of the project. This stage involves talking to the stakeholders, project managers, and developers; basically, everyone is involved in the process of creating the document.
  • Designing: In the designing phase, the document is shared with the responsible individuals of the teams who would be working on the project. They will understand the task and start developing the application with all the necessary resources.
  • Testing: This step comes after the designing/development when testers get involved in the project to validate the application for its authenticity and specifications. They perform their own set of tests, manual or automated, and share the finally passed product which undergoes field testing using a small portion of users.
  • Analyzing: The last phase analyzes testers’ results after running the previous step. It includes assessing the success of the test and its implications and making recommendations for improvements, further tests, or next steps.

Limitations

Field testing has several limitations that should be taken into consideration when planning and interpreting the results. Here are some common limitations associated with field testing:

  • Field tests can be challenging as it is conducted in real-world environments where conditions can be highly variable.
  • Field tests are resource-intensive and time-consuming, requiring a dedicated team of QAs to perform all the steps that include real-world scenarios.
  • It can be risky to make the mobile application available to the end-users, however small in portion, without offering them initial guidance about the features and functions of the app.
  • For most testers and businesses, procuring multiple devices of varying dimensions and software specifications to execute field testing can be challenging.

It is possible to mitigate all these issues. You need to carefully plan and prioritize field testing efforts from the beginning.

Examples of Tests that Can Be Verified in Field Test

Suppose you are building an application that tracks stock prices and allows users to buy/sell them in real time. The functions of the app would include:

  • giving stock information,
  • adding money to the app wallet,
  • enabling the buying/selling option within seconds, and
  • making all the payments without any interruptions, as stock prices are quite volatile.

Not to mention that hundreds of thousands of users would simultaneously do all of these. Two of the field tests for this type of application would be checking the network and connectivity testing and performance testing.

Test the application’s performance and behavior for network and connectivity validation under different network conditions, such as 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, or low signal strength areas. Verify that the application works properly and efficiently handles network interruptions.

For performance, you need to check if the application can withstand certain load/visitor limits. Testers usually do that by hitting the app with huge traffic. In field testing, that can be done by asking users to consistently open the app and perform some activities to see if the application is performing everything properly.

Some other field tests that you can conduct for this application are checking how it affects the battery and power consumption of the mobile and validating if the UI is displaying correctly on different devices with varying dimensions. 

Best Practices

Let’s look at some of the best practices for field testing that will make it easier for you to deliver an unexceptionally high-quality mobile application to your users:

  • Select a diverse set of devices representative of your target user base.
  • Test the app under various network conditions, including different signal strengths, network speeds (3G, 4G, Wi-Fi), and network providers. This helps assess the app’s performance and reliability across different connectivity.
  • Define specific test scenarios and use cases that cover a wide range of user interactions and workflows.
  • Perform field tests after all the regression tests are complete, and you have a list of test cases to support your testing process.
  • Be detailed and clear while logging the feedback to ensure no communication gap or confusion about how the app works.
  • Pay attention to the app’s impact on device resources such as battery life, CPU usage, memory, and data consumption.
  • Lastly, refine and enhance the app using the insights gained from field testing.

Summary

Any product becomes a hit when users accept it and like it. Same with mobile applications. But how do you make sure that users like the final product without releasing it to them? You launch the app for your users. Confused?

Field testing validates a mobile application in real-life conditions by making it available to a few potential customers. It helps product managers and stakeholders to gather critical insight into the functioning of the application before making it public for everyone to use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which testing is also called field testing?

Field testing is also called Beta testing, which aims to select a group of users, known as beta testers, to evaluate the software in a real-world environment before its official release. During beta testing, the software is made available to a limited number of external users who represent the target audience or a specific user group, which is a similar approach to field testing.

What is the primary advantage of field tests?

Primary advantages of field testing in software testing include real-world user feedback, identifying usability issues, validating software performance in varying environments, uncovering unanticipated bugs, enhancing user experience, and gaining insights into user preferences.


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