Everything is going mobile, so it’s time your testing team did too.

Mobile app testing is all the more critical because users have super high expectations. Not meeting those expectations results in the immediate deletion of the app, a poor rating, and a new download for a chief competitor—haunting.

For big brands expanding mobile transactions and engagements, a new app launch greatly affects overall brand perception.  With testing sometimes reaching ten percent of a mobile development budget, QA managers are faced with making sure their teams of testers conduct all possible use cases as strategically as possible. So how do you make that happen?

Mobile app testing isn’t totally different, just more complicated. Here’s what to do when converting web app testers to the mobile side.


Remind your web app tester what will stay the same

When we venture into new territory, we bring an existing arsenal of skills. So, when introducing a web app tester to the mobile arena, start by going over what they already know.

This is the easiest step in the teaching process, but it’s important, so don’t neglect it. They already understand how various browsers can support or break functions and that a sudden loss of a network connection should be no match against an app’s auto-save. That tester will also already know how to test for security concerns and will understand the basics of good UI design.

Let them know that outages, UI, and security concerns are still on the table, then move on to what else is at stake.


Go over what makes mobile a different environment

For starters, testing must occur not on multiple browsers but on multiple devices. Because recent versions of iOS look similar across iPhones, you can test on just one or two. But with Android, different brands display the OS variably. So be sure to coordinate device coverage with your testers.

Manual testing is super important for multi-platform interactions, which might occur depending on the app. If users are logged in and engaged on their mobile device, there shouldn’t be notifications popping up on their desktop version—or should there? Testers need to know the desired outcomes when it comes to apps that work across multiple stations so they can report accordingly.

Certain apps are geo-aware. Others are integrated with social media. Isolate specific functions that deserve multiple use cases, be those file types, time zones, or accounts.

Network constraints get a little tricky, too. There’s the difference between wi-fi and 4G and 3G—not just offline or on. If a user is within a known network, and walks outside of it having already set their phone to limit further data, what app functions are affected? How does the app respond when it regains connectivity?

Airplane mode, low battery, low memory, incoming calls and texts—all of these are big players in the mobile arena. Be sure your tester knows where QA priorities lie for each specific app.


Give your team clear objectives when testing for layout and design

The best mobile apps are architected around the user. With web apps and all their inherent space, functions can be organized schematically around the inner workings of the backend and database. With mobile, everything is about the user and what few actions they’re trying to do (and in what order).

Testers are not designers, sure. But developers rely on their input as initial users. Make sure testers know to submit tickets not just for bugs but for menu design, task clarity, and bot messages.

If a tester performs an action and receives no confirmation of any sort, they should feel encouraged to note it. The best testers never co-opt apps or waste precious time, so trust that your team will deliver suggestions (or not) based on the timeline and scopes you’ve given them.

When it comes to layout issues (like text overlapping other text or icons misplaced) ask QA testers to write tickets in terms of a standard desired layout, not as comparisons between the visuals on differing devices or OSes.


Train testers to catch possible backend issues and report them to you

With more experience, testers begin to identify data validation issues. Because time and money spent on mobile testing can quickly amass, that’s a good thing.

Possible data validation glitches need more than a typical ticket submittal. Have them email or message you directly. Developers will sincerely appreciate when you briefly halt QA efforts so they have the time to fix a critical backend system failure—rather than receive dozens (or even hundreds) of bugs for a single root cause.

Critical reporting will save time and protect the budget (meaning you deliver thorough testing plus invaluable service). The dev team will be singing your praises. Win win!


Decide on reporting standards for exploratory mobile testing and gesture defects

Scripted testing still has its place, but a primary focus on exploratory testing is a no brainer for mobile—so long as QA testers are delivering not just bugs but pathways. To make sure nothing was missed, QA managers need to proactively segment tasks or compare test logs after-the-fact. It’s important to know exactly what the testers have and have not explored. Good testing doesn’t happen in a void.

Similarly, gestures can be one of mobile’s gray areas. When something unexpected occurs, it needs to be replicated. Was that a swipe or a tap? Did you expand with two fingers or three? Unclear tickets can be maddening for developers. As a QA manager, predefine gestures and communicate their definitions to all testers on the team. Consistent reporting is a marker of testing success.

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