The stand-alone mobile strategy has become increasingly irrelevant. Why? The simple answer is that the mobile device has evolved into a single piece of a broader omnichannel strategy.Digital experiences are incorporating an infinite number of endpoints, sensors, and environments to engage users where they are via their mobile devices. “Digital” is also becoming the primary channel for reaching customers and building lasting loyal relationships.
As the importance of digital grows, so do the competitive pressures to deliver an experience that delights users. Users’ attention spans are shortening and expectations are rising. Apps must perform flawlessly and deliver fresh content andUIs to remain compelling enough to keep users coming back.
However, this is all much easier said than done. Building great experiences in itself is a big undertaking, and ensuring that these experiences work the way they were designed to, across the digital ecosystem — including laptop browsers and mobileapps—requires consistently executed testing strategies.
As a result, testing and monitoring websites and apps are fundamental to successful strategies. Whether it’s simply testing manually, building an in-house testing lab or leveraging cloud testing services, developers will experience multiple challenges perfecting their digital presence. Here are five pain points developers typically encounter within their testing strategies.
1. Slow Manual Testing
When new development teams embark on their testing regiment, the first pain point they often experience is lack of time. Developers will typically begin testing apps manually, which is slow and can create bottlenecks for the entire operation. Testers need to load apps onto multiple devices and test them in real-world situations. This might include a tour around town where testers evaluate app performances as they drive through tunnels or garages, enter elevators, or visit basements. The chance of human error with this approach can lead to overlooked bugs.
To overcome this pain point, many development teams turn to automation to alleviate inefficiency. In order to automate, teams often create their own testing labs by acquiring a variety of devices, as well as purchasing technologies to automate tests and simulate real-world situations while testing on real devices. As a result, this solution significantly improves testing efficiency, but also creates new problems.
2. Managing In-House Testing Labs
An in-house testing lab can be a difficult and expensive undertaking for many organizations. Up-front costs to buy 40 of the most popular devices can cost about $11,000, and new devices need to be constantly added in order to stay up to date. Connecting devices in the lab and installing apps on each device for every new build also requires considerable time. As development organizations expand, these labs also need to grow to handle increased demand, putting greater pressure on the lab.
Deciding on the most important devices and operating systems to include in a testing environment is also a point of stress when organizations build their own labs. Open Signal, a monitor of operator networks, identified 1,294 different Android device brands and 18,796 individual devices in the market between August 2014 and 2015. The enormous number of environments in which apps will be running will require testers to make difficult decisions about what assets to invest in.
Simulating all the potential user environments at scale is also a very challenging undertaking for a single testing team.Savvy development teams are outsourcing this functionality to experts that specialize in maintaining testing labs, and are able to spread these costs across a larger client base. While this strategy alleviates the headaches of managing an in-house testing lab, the many variables that exist in the real world will continue to cause problems for developers, which causes the third pain point – testing for user conditions.
3. Testing for Various User Conditions
Testing apps to ensure they perform well on different device models, screen sizes, and operating system versions is a constant challenge for developers. As mobile and PCecosystems merge, developers also must consider how their responsive experiences perform on laptop web browsers.
Functional testing can test basic app features on a variety of devices, but these approaches do not factor in the dynamic user environments that apps have to perform in. Understanding the effect that environmental factors have on app performance is key to optimal app performance.
Testing for every possible environmental condition may be unrealistic, but designing testing strategies that consider typical user conditions is a good way to avoid blind spots.For example, business travel apps should be tested on smartphones and in environments that simulate congested networks typical of airports.
Testing complex user environments prior to production is a great way to avoid blind spots, but technology and conditions are constantly changing. As a result, another key pain point includes optimizing apps throughout the lifecycle.
4. Optimizing Apps Throughout the Lifecycle
With code, platforms, and operating systems constantly changing, ending testing processes once code is out the door leaves apps vulnerable for failure in the future. DevOps teams that do not monitor apps post-production will only discover new bugs once reported by users, and will have to scramble to solve the issue based on limited historical data. At this point, it may be too late. Dimensional Research found that about 80percent of users will only use a problematic app three times or fewer.
To solve this problem, developers are implementing strategies that regularly test apps already in-production to monitor their performance while the digital ecosystem changes. To minimize the time to resolve issues, developers have also implemented deep reporting and redundancy failure monitors that can quickly identify which devices and variables are creating the issues.
Regular testing throughout the app lifecycle is very important; however, testing also has to be consistent.
5. Inconsistent Testing
Test scripts that are run in environments that are inconsistent can lead to developers chasing bugs that don’t exist. Running different tests scripts can also lead to inaccurate results.Questions such as “did an app pass or fail due to changes in the code or differences in the lab?” can lead to a significant amount of wasted debugging time.
Organizations operating in-house testing labs are susceptible to a variability in power supply or differences caused by devices missing from the lab. Responsive experiences are incorporating both PC and mobile devices into a single experience, but often these development teams remain separate. This means different testing strategies and scripts.Responsive web experiences that fail on a desktop browser but not on mobile could be caused by a difference in the test script, making it more difficult to identify bugs.
By using cloud-based testing services, developers are able to maintain a consistent testing environment that have built-in redundancies. Leading cloud testing services are also offering capabilities that enable testing teams to test on both desktop and mobile web with one testing script.
In the future, digital strategies need to engage customers with high-performing experience regardless of the location.It is no longer about mobile first, but instead about digital everywhere. As a result, organizations need to ensure that their digital experiences reflect the quality of their brand.Excellent digital engagement requires developers to avoid or overcome these five key pain points that reduce testing efficiency and quality overall.
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