Anyone with the least bit of professional software development experience will tell you that you should never underestimate the value and importance of testing your program. This is especially true of mobile apps, which undergo a sometimes-painful vetting and examination process before being published on major app stores.
But hiring a fully-qualified QA team to test your app and squeeze every last bug, inconsistency and UI/UX issue out of it might not be within your budget range, especially if you’re an indie developer. But does the fact that you can’t afford a full team of professionals justify not testing your app thoroughly?
I’m sure you already know the answer to that question.
In this article I will show you a few tricks that can get help you get quality user testing for your app, at a very low price.
build your test audience
The first order of business is to recruit your testers, because every good testing strategy needs a solid base of users. Here are a couple of places to find quality testers for free:
- Email lists: If you’ve already gathered an email list for your app (say through your landing page or by some other means), you already have a potential list of test users at your disposal. These are people that have shown interest in your app, and there’s a likely chance that many of them will leap at a chance to test the app they’ve been anticipating for months.
- Families and friends: They might not be the most candid people in criticizing the fruit of your efforts, but they’re a good place to start when all else fails.
- Users from previous versions of the app: If your app has a predecessor or you’ve published similar apps before, your loyal users can turn out to be the best people to test your app and give you feedback.
- Random people: Based on the demographics of the target audience of your app, you might be able to find potential testers in local hubs such as your library or nearest Starbucks, universities or other places where tech-oriented people gather. Ask nicely for a few minutes of their time to test your app. I’ve seen others sweeten the deal with a free coffee and donut. I don’t do it because I believe it can turn out to become an obstacle when the user wants to express negative feelings about the app. But it might work for you.
Be honest about yourself and your intentions, and your testers will be candid as well. You might want to give feedback forms in order to make sure you get the right feedback from the users. But if you plan to do so, don’t hand out the forms before the testing. In general, anything that might set the user on a predetermined path or disrupt their experience, whether emotional or technical, should be avoided at all costs.
It’s good to have your app tested by thousands of people, but it’s not a vital necessity. Even fewer than ten testers can get you started on getting quality feedback on your app and spotting some of its major flaws. This way you can have your app tested iteratively, each round being carried out by a different group of newcomers.
A piece of advice: Never have your app tested by developers. Of course, having a fellow app developer maul your app can have a good bug turnover, which is a good thing, but don’t expect to get accurate average-user-level feedback about the UX, ease of use and screen flow.
Playtesting is a fine line: The Do’s And Don’ts Of Playtesting Your Mobile Game
forget about labs and fancy equipment
Classic app and software testing will require you to set up a testing lab, where you’re in full control of every aspect of the user’s experience. While it is cool to have a full-featured testing facility with two-way mirrors, CCTVs and an operation room that rivals Captain Kirk’s spaceship, yet it’s not a must-have for quality testing. A simple conference room can be just as efficient.
In many cases, testing labs and isolated rooms are not even a suitable environment for testing the app and obtaining relevant feedback. Users should be encouraged to use the app in its suitable environment. If it’s a fitness app, it should be used in the gym or while the user is jogging. If it’s an office app, it should be used in the office.
get feedback from user interaction in your app
Knowing how users navigate through your application is definitely vital to assessing the efficiency of your app. You have to know how users navigate to and from various screens, whether they even navigate to where you expect them, and if they don’t why not. You have to know how can the experience be simplified, what the design strengths of your app are, and how they can be leveraged and propagated to other areas.
While looming over users and watching them tap through the screens can be disruptive for their experience, certain tools can help you to obtain the required feedback from the user experience.
The most basic solution is to use an analytics tool along with well-thought A/B testing to examine user feedback on different variations of the app. Other more advanced solutions, such as InVision, UX Recorder and User Testing will enable you to record the user screen along with the user’s face and audio at a reasonable cost in order to better understand the user’s interaction with your app and their reaction to different features.
Get professional fEEDBACK
For a small fee, you could get a professional reveiw of your app, which will not only help promote it to your users, but also help you identify UX issues for you to work on.
Appszoom’s App Analysis service offers you a full est of your app by an expert, with a detailed report for you including straightforward advice on how to make your app competitive in its market context.
over to you
Reliably testing your app is a crucial part of app development, but you don’t need a fortune to carry it out: a combination of planning, patience and the right tools can break down the costs dramatically.
Do you have any tactics and methods to add? Share with us in the comments section.