Developing an app requires a lot of work. On the development side, the code needs to be perfect in order to make everything work smoothly. On the design side, it is necessary to guarantee that users will find your app engaging.
While QA tests help development teams understand the risks and errors in an app, testing the experience of a user is a whole different story. This is mostly a qualitative research process where many things need to be considered. There isn’t a straightforward way to do it.
Testing your app properly can help you understand key user touchpoints and how to reduce their friction. In this post we discuss the importance of testing your app through UX Research and how to find the right approach to do it.
UX Research Explained
User Experience, known as UX, is the branch of design that focuses on providing meaningful experiences to users. This is true no matter the product or service being considered. Normally, this is something that designers do, but in the world of apps, developers also play an important role. When research focuses on user experiences, it is known as UX Research.
UX Research Challenges
UX has two important difficulties that every researcher eventually has to confront. The first is defining what a meaningful experience is. This can vary from one user to another, and there is never going to be such a thing as an ideal user. Even worse, what works under a certain context does not necessarily work under different circumstances. Thus, guaranteeing that a majority of users find your app engaging in a variety of contexts becomes quite a challenge.
The second difficulty is trying to measure if an experience is meaningful. Since experiences are a subjective matter rather than something that can be objectively measured, trying to decide how an app can be improved from a UX perspective can be very difficult. Researchers usually solve this problem by relying on qualitative methods commonly associated with the social sciences.
UX Research and Social Sciences
From a UX Research perspective, social sciences have some useful tools to help understand the experiences an app produces. In particular, fields like sociology and psychology have important things to say about user experiences. The growing field of behavioral science is gaining popularity and many apps are using it to test how users behave. However, doing this brings to the table some important ethical questions.
One important thing to keep in mind is that, as design guru and inventor of the term User Experience Don Norman says, “a product is more than a product.” This means that, in reality, a product is a collection of different elements that go from the process of developing the product itself to whatever happens to it once finished. In other words, a product is something in constant evolution that can be redefined at any moment by its environment.
Testing Apps Through UX Research
Determining if an app has an engaging UX is very important. If your app fails to engage users due to a poor experience, it is very likely that users will delete it and never download it again. It is particularly important to focus on onboarding users right from the start, but consider that retaining them also matters. The app market can be very competitive and loyalty is not carved in stone.
The best way to know what users really think of your app is by getting their feedback. Try to find a diverse group of people who can give you their honest thoughts. If the group’s selection can be done randomly, even better; otherwise you risk skewing the sample.
Testing an app’s UX does not have to be difficult. Although it isn’t easy either, it can be done if you keep the following things in mind:
- Define various user personas and try to imagine how each will respond to the experience.
- Record the feedback. Do not rely on your memory or your notes only. Remember to ask for permission to record.
- Generate trust with your test subjects. Do not make it hard for them to give you feedback.
- Decide whether an individual or group testing is more convenient.
- Consider the app’s usability, as this is an important element of the experience.
- Watch out for accessibility. Everyone should be able to use your app.
- Find someone who can lead the test. An important part of any research’s success is the facilitator.
Each test is unique, so you will need to lay down your requirements clearly and prioritize what your goals are. However, with these suggestions in mind, you will surely obtain good insights to work on your app.
5 App User Testing Methods
UX literature offers a wide variety of methods to perform research. Some work better than others depending on what your app does. In general, these are some of the most important and easy to use:
- User interviews: organize your users on a 1:1 or group session and ask them questions on how they feel about the app. Try not to guide them with your questions. Instead, let them talk.
- Customer journey: ask your users to help you build their journey and identify touchpoints, that is, the way they use your app. What you have in mind might not be what they actually do or need.
- Interview the development team: most research focuses on users, but it is also important to know why some features are built as they are. Your development team can help you figure that out.
- A/B testing: even experienced designers will sometimes fail to predict what works. Compare different alternatives for specific matters and choose what works best.
- User journal: ask your users to keep track of their app experience in a journal. This requires a strong commitment, but if done correctly it will pay off.
Remember to always be thankful and respectful with your test subjects. Don’t take negative feedback personally, and do not take for granted the positive aspects of your app. If possible, make test subjects know you value their effort and recognize it, even if it is with a small detail.
Agile App UX Testing
Testing your app does not have to be done after it is completed and has reached the market. Luckily, some software building frameworks allow you to test specific features during the development phases of your project. Agile is a working methodology in which software is built and delivered in pieces; think of it as a modular software building strategy. This enables development teams to test specific features, receive feedback, and then integrate it into the whole project before it is finished.
At Koombea we use our own Agile app development methodology. This allows us to adapt to specific situations according to each of our clients’ needs. Thanks to this approach, we can easily perform UX Research and tests to ensure that users will love your app. This methodology is at the core of our more than 1000 projects.
If you want to try it out and see for yourself how it can help your app deliver an outstanding User Experience, contact us. We’d be glad to help you build that amazing experience.