Beyond Bugs and Crashes: How QA Delivers a Competitive UX Edge
Developing enterprise mobile apps in this day and age is like walking a tight rope. On the one hand we have clients, who approach us with a brief and a specific outcome in mind, and on the other hand, we have their customers who expect apps to be as simple to use as possible. In this fine balancing act where we must ensure both sides are properly weighted, ultimately there’s no question as to who has the upper hand. If customers can’t quickly figure out how to use the app, they’ll delete it from their mobile device and look for an alternative.
That’s why Love Agency takes on a user-centric approach to mobile app design, and why we test our apps thoroughly with the user in mind. App testing cannot just be about passing a set of functional requirements, it should go deeper than that. It should contribute to the wholeness of the app. It should look for ways to make the app more intuitive and provide a better user experience (UX), while always meeting the client’s expectations. We simply cannot compromise on the user experience if we want our clients to stay ahead of their competitors.
First make it work… then make it work well
While making sure our apps are bug-free and that users won’t have any problems with functionality, our QA team is always on the lookout for ways to improve the UX. Initially this includes simple things like making sure hit targets are large enough to ensure the user taps an item the first time, every time. Then, we look for ways of making the app more intuitive. This involves introducing gestures – like swiping to refresh a page – in order to improve efficiency, adding visual indicators to assist general navigation of the app, and reducing user strain caused by excessive alerts and messages. We won’t release anything until we’re as sure as we can be that it’s not only functional, stable and secure, but also attractive and pleasant to use.
The trick to being a good tester is not just to look for ways to break the app, but to learn how to think like a real user, then go hands-on and look for ways to improve the app. We know users get irritated if an app is too slow or too hard to use, so we have to find that right balance between functionality and ease of use. A good app will have both, and a good tester will know how to find that critical balance.
Fast feedback for fast features
As far as we know, this approach to testing is very unique. Our QA team works out of the same office as our developers and designers, which makes it easy to give and receive immediate feedback and advice. If QA discovers a good idea for improving an app, it’ll be explored and implemented. Being agile at Love Agency, we put in short sprints to ensure new features get implemented and approved rapidly so that they can make it to market as quick as possible.
We work this way because we believe that good UX, which comes as a result of gleaning everyone’s best ideas and insights, will enrich our methodical approach to developing apps. Of course, with this approach a lot of care must be taken to ensure new ideas do not conflict with each platform’s interface and behaviour guidelines. Common elements like animations, drop down lists, spinners and navigation norms should appear and behave exactly as a user would expect, whether it’s on an Android or iOS device or on a web browser. Moving away from what a ‘normal’ user would expect on a specific platform is a big risk and could result in a bad UX.
That’s how we make sure that the mobile enterprise apps we create are enjoyed on all platforms and provide users with a great experience – highly functional, visually appealing and easy to use. That’s what we aim for, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.