Mobile Usability testing What is it and how is it done

6 Steps to Perfect Mobile Usability Testing Plan

It is a fact that we all use smartphones and mobile apps on a day-to-day basis. Whether at a cafe, commuting on a train, or sitting on the beach staring at the waves while surfing the Internet, we are all connected no matter where we are. And with technological advances, everything has become more straightforward and accessible. But let’s face reality: not everything can be improved with just an engineering tweak here or there; the user experience is essential for successful applications across all platforms. For that, we need “mobile usability testing.”

The pitfall lies between a poorly designed application and the diverse usability levels that most users disagree with. Hence, developers must create a sleek design with a seamless user interface. This creates a need to test mobile applications and their usability thoroughly. You can know here how user-friendly your app is on mobile by doing a mobile-friendly test for your app.

In this article, we will discuss how we can perform mobile usability testing that would enable us to create applications that live up to the user’s standards.

What is Mobile Usability Testing?

In broad terms, mobile usability testing helps us ensure that our users can easily meet their goals with our applications. It involves inviting test participants representing future users to perform tasks on our prototype application in a controlled and monitored environment. Similar to all other aspects of UI/UX designs, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach you can adopt to perform mobile usability testing. Your idea to test mobile usability should depend mainly on the products and resources that you have. However, it should always revolve around reaching the user’s standards, proving true for any product.

Let’s suppose we have an application for a ticket reservation system. Every second is critical when we try to book tickets using such an application. This means that a bug related to user experience or a complex feature that goes beyond user standards can be quite frustrating for users.

Hence, the application must go through comprehensive usability testing before its launch. The best way to ensure that it caters to user’s requirements is to let the users perform the testing. This is precisely what we do in mobile usability testing.

While it’s true that mobile and web usability testing follows the same lines for most of the part, the main difference between them is the actual implementation of the tasks and testing plans. Apart from planning, the reporting and the test works remain the same.

Check Out: Types of Mobile usability testing.

How is Usability Testing Useful for Mobile Apps?

Usability testing is really important for the creation of mobile apps. It helps developers determine how easy it is to use and if people have a good experience with it. Doing usability testing can help developers find and fix problems that might make it hard to use or navigate the app.

Here are some reasons why app usability testing is useful for mobile apps:

  1. Usability testing helps make sure your app is easy to use and navigate, which can lead to more people using it, sticking with it, and giving good reviews. According to Unwind Media  “Usability testing was key to making our spider solitaire game successful
  2. It can also help you determine if issues could confuse or annoy users before the app launches.
  3. Doing this early on can save time and money, plus prevent bad reviews that could hurt the app’s success.

In summary, app usability testing is essential for mobile app development as it helps improve the user experience, identifies usability issues, and saves time and money in the long run.

How to Run an Effective Mobile Application Usability Test?

Steps to create a perfect mobile usability testing plan for your prototype:

  1. Objectives of the usability test.
  2. Setting up the tasks.
  3. Creating the test documentation.
  4. Finding the right test participants.
  5. Conducting the test.
  6. Reporting the results.

Let’s have a look at each of these, step-by-step.

1. Objectives of the usability test.

The first step of your mobile usability testing should be to set your goals straight. The question arises, how you can set your goals?

You can start by preparing and asking several questions to your stakeholders. This also includes the developers which would help you to explore some important areas.

  • The roadmap of your application.
  • Targeted audience.
  • Competitors of your product.
  • Research to be performed, features that need to be tested, and its potential impact.
  • Scope of the product.

By asking these questions, to your stakeholder, you will get a clear view of what they know and what they want. You can now start working on identifying your goals and metrics to achieve them. 

2. Setting up the tasks.

Once you know what features to be tested, the next step is to start assigning the tasks to your test participants. Tasks are basically, the interactions that are to be performed by the test participants. It includes setting up test scenarios and organizing the sequence in which the test steps need to be executed. Each test scenario should be well-crafted and should reflect all the set of actions that a user will tend to perform. 

Some examples of such tasks include registering and logging into an account, uploading or downloading media files, browsing through a page, etc. and they are mostly specific to the type of application.

It also involves deciding the set of tools to be adopted which can easily highlight the issues. The type of tool which you need to adopt depends largely on the following factors.

  • Creating recorded sessions of the tests along with screenshots of the bugs.
  • Tools that can support multiple OS-device combinations with multiple screen resolutions.
  • Integration with other CI/CD tools.
  • Generation of comprehensive test reports.
  • Full-page screenshot and availability of touch scrolling. 

Depending upon such factors, you need to decide what features you want to have in your testing tools. Only then, you can decide how to integrate them with your test participants’ devices to get real-time feedback. It’s always preferable for participants to allow them to perform testing on their own devices. 

3. Creating the test documentation.

It’s very important to maintain a piece of detailed information on each test that is conducted. This makes it easier to identify the issues in case a bug pops up. Depending on the methodology you adopt, there are a number of documents that you need to maintain. Typically, the following must be an integral part.

  • A Consent form – stating whether the test participants have their full consent and that they are willing to provide full support to get accurate results.
  • A Post-test questionnaire – which should include questions that help the teams to understand the intuitiveness of the app and find out whether the app offers everything that they claim to.

Let’s suppose, you have a questionnaire where you have answers to some important questions answered by your participants. These questions might include how intuitive your application is, ease of access to features, level of satisfaction, etc. You can use these to enhance the performance or the usability of your applications. 

Such detailed documentation will provide a wealth of information post successful testing which will help you to improve your prototype application.

4. Finding the right test participants.

After strategizing on all the above points, the question arises, who will participate in the test? It will be easier to find the right participants once you have a clear understanding of the type of test you want to perform. It’s key to draw participants based on both behavioural traits and demography. To add value to the product, you must select participants that could represent your target audience.

For on-site tests, development teams can turn to their marketing partners to find the right list of participants.  They can use the social media platform to hire freelancers and It’s also very key to get the stakeholder involved in the whole process. They can provide valuable insights from unexplored areas and it’s always beneficial to gain their trust and commitment.

Some considerations to be taken when selecting the participants are –

  • They should represent the intended target audience.
  • They should own devices that have an OS on which your app is intended to run.
  • Be available at the time of need and frequently when you need to conduct your tests.
  • Be ready to sign the consent form and agree to the compensation terms.
  • Be available at all stages of the application development cycle and maintain confidentiality and have the required expertise with mobile applications.

5. Conducting the test.

There are two widely-adopted methods to conduct mobile usability testing. These are:

  • Laboratory-based testing.
  • Remote testing.

Laboratory-based testing involves real users with real devices. The evaluator has full control to set the tasks. These, however, require a proper setup by the evaluator’s end. Some components include fixed-position and cradle-based cameras, recording software, test facilitators, a perfectly lit venue, etc. While both the methods are effective, however, in-house based testing is always better because it allows the evaluators to capture the tester’s behaviour, reactions, and expressions while using the application. 

6. Reporting the results.

After completing all the test sessions, it’s essential that you go through all the information-packed data, analyze it to get actionable insights from it. It’s always better that you split the data into two parts – 

  • Quantitative data can be used to compute metrics such as success rates, completion rates, error rates, etc.
  • Qualitative data can provide insights such as problems experienced, the path taken by the participants, and analyze the answers that were provided in the questionnaire and debriefing sessions.

Following is the structure that has been proved to be effective for reporting.

  1. Providing a Background Summary containing answers to the whats, whens, and hows.
  2. The testing methodology containing information such as the task scenarios, metrics used to identify the success ratios, information about the participants, etc.
  3. The test results include both quantitative and qualitative data.
  4. Providing a set of recommendations and findings based on the observations from test results.

How can Testsigma Help You in Mobile Usability Testing?

1. Below is the test case creation page where the user can select the uploaded APK file for execution

Mobile Usability Testing - Test case creation

2. Continue to record steps by selecting any machine from the shown dropdown integrated with different labs

record test steps

3. Create a test case and record the steps manually or by using test sigma recorder.

In the below image, the test steps for testing mobile usability for android is been showed

test steps for testing mobile usability for android

4. Once done with creating steps, click on run to run your testcase

Mobile usability testing -run your testcase

5. Once the Testcase execution is done, you will end up on the result  page

Mobile usability testing - Testcase execution done

6. Reaching the test case executed page. You will find displayed error message for failed element.

test case executed page

7. On the right side, you will find videos and logs can be found here for the executed testcase.

find videos and logs for the executed testcase

8. Go to test suite creation and click on > Add test cases to a suite

Add test cases to a suite

9. Add the test suite and your preffered machine you want to run your testplan on

run your testplan

10. On successfully creating the Testplan, you will end up on the screen given below.

11. In Testplan execution page user’s can see multiple test cases execution put in different suites in a testplan

multiple test cases execution

12. To upload an apk file> go to uploads

upload an apk file

Mobile usability testing requires designing test scenarios and constant monitoring of all the sets of actions taken by the test participants.

Once you’ve taken care of mobile usability testing and finalized the designs, automating the test cases for mobile app testing that you might need to do multiple times or on different devices is a good idea. To make this easier, use a test automation tool that lets you easily run tests on your mobile devices without extra effort from you or your team. Testsigma is an automated mobile app testing tool that makes it easy to create complex test steps with simple natural language. It also helps you set up tasks and monitor the testing environment quickly and effectively.

Check out: Approach for Mobile Website Testing

Some features of Testsigma tool that will make your mobile application testing easier are:

  • It lets you build automated and stable test environments for mobile applications by allowing you to run test scenarios remotely on 2000+ iOS and Android devices.
Mobile app testing
  • These devices are available on-demand as they are hosted on the cloud. It allows you to perform parallel automated testing for quick results.
  • You can create comprehensive test cases for UI/UX testing by specifying all the UI identifiers that you want to test to ensure the seamless usability of the application.
  • Features such as the generation of drill-down test reports with video recordings and screenshots, bug sharing, integration with CI/CD tools, etc. can make reporting results easier.

These features can surely help you build a robust application, that is immune to any bugs related to the usability of the application in the future.

Signup for a free trial of Testsigma and get started with your automated mobile app testing journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you test the usability of a mobile application?

  • Define the user scenarios: Think about what the app is used for and what tasks people might want to do on it.
  • Recruit participants: Find people similar to those who would use the app in real life.
  • Create test cases: Make a list of things that people should try out on the app.
  • Conduct the tests: Watch users as they go through each task and look for any problems or difficulties they have.
  • Analyze the results: Look at what you noticed while testing and determine how to improve the app.

What type of testing is done on mobile?

  • Functional testing: This type of testing checks to ensure the app does what it should.
  • Compatibility testing: This testing ensures the app works on different phones, operating systems, and screen sizes.
  • Performance testing: This type of testing looks at how fast the app is, how quickly it responds, and if it runs smoothly.
  • Security testing: This testing looks at the app’s security features to ensure your data is safe.
  • Usability testing: This type of testing checks how easy it is to use the app, how you move around inside it, and if you have a good experience with it.

Which tool is used for mobile testing?

There are several tools available for mobile testing, including:

  • Appium is a free tool that helps you test mobile apps on Android and iOS devices.
  • Testsigma is another free tool that can help you automate testing on both Android and iOS, including web browsers.
  • Calabash is another open-source tool for ensuring your app works as it should.
  • Espresso and XCUITest allow developers to write automated tests to ensure their apps work properly.
  • Lastly, TestComplete is a paid program that lets you test mobile apps on Android and iOS platforms.

Suggested Readings

IOS Testing Frameworks

Device Farms Test in IOS & Android

IOS Automated Test

IOS Emulators for Windows and MAC


Test automation made easy

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