How many apps that you’ve signed up for (or downloaded) do you actually use? Which ones make you forget all about them and which ones make you fall in love?

Churn doesn’t just occur when a mobile app crashes during the first use—though churn in that case would be very likely—it also happens when apps of any sort fail to make themselves useful or entertaining.

High levels of churn are exactly why QA is shifting left. In other words, QA is coming earlier and earlier on in the development process, extending to the business requirements phase.

IT departments now see security, customer experience, and corporate image as top priorities of QA.

As we all know, one of the best ways to protect your reputation is to make a good first impression. Without nailing that first interaction, companies can kiss new users goodbye. Regardless of the business model, sign-ups and downloads pave the way for revenue.

Here are some simple but important ways to include QA in the new user experience, to ultimately:

  • Verify the functionality and ease of sign-up flow
  • Know what pushes new users away
  • Find new ways to improve UX

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Integrate web testing & app testing

You have your web testers over here and your app testers over there. Right? Wrong.

Testing the new user experience requires full integration between testing your website (or perhaps a social profile or landing page) and testing your app.

QA needs to flow through the whole process just as a user would.

From how they got to this button…

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…to what happens after.

Obvious options are to try and create an account with an existing email or to botch your new password, but certain apps (particularly desktop web SaaS products) have a lot more room for error.

Social publishing software SproutSocial presents the user with the date their free trial will end, giving an additional component to verify.

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The sign-up process also REQUIRES that the user link their Twitter profile. A new user cannot access the dashboard without first linking their Twitter account. This is genius because if you can’t get the user to link a social media profile to their account then they absolutely 100% are guaranteed to churn.

To like an app enough to want to pay for it, a user first has to use it.

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Testers can go backwards and forwards and hit cancel until to their heart’s’ content, but unless they link a Twitter profile, they won’t get inside the app.

Every app will have it’s own unique sign-up process. Testers cannot only test that it’s working but see if the process can be improved to help prevent churn from the get-go.

Develop customer personas

Without understanding a user’s goals and behaviors, neither testers nor developers can have much success in contributing to the “stickiness” of a product. Some apps do so little that there’s really only one desired action, while others are platforms that can be used in a variety of ways.

First-impression testing requires the development of unique customer personas, possibly more so than any other type of testing, because testers need to verify if the user’s very first need was fulfilled.

Let’s follow through with SproutSocial, and see what’s going on inside the app (now that a Twitter profile has been successfully linked).

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This initial dashboard message is operating around the team’s knowledge that there are three main things users want to do when they first sign up.

Not all apps will have these initial desires be so clear.

Whether during the requirements phase, or with a quick initial exploration, testers can get an understanding of the core handful of tasks that new users want to accomplish, including any sign-up hoops they have to jump through to get there. And then of course, testers need to complete the tasks.

Depending on the apps’ initial welcome messages and tutorials, testers could need a new account for each persona to see how the app engages when completely fresh.

Test web app loading or mobile app download and installation speed

This is basic, but it’s a big one.

What’s the technical impression that the app is giving off? Old and clunky or smooth and speedy? People will be more tolerant of an app they’re already married to, but that first impression doesn’t have as much leeway.

Just the other day, I had a mobile app crash during the first use. Needless to say, I won’t be using the app again. And today, I experienced a mobile app that downloaded at lightning speed but then took no less than 8 minutes to install, making me very wary.

All users have a general knowledge of their at-home or at-work internet speeds and the 4G speed they can get in certain areas, so if your app falls below that baseline mark in terms of performance, they’ll notice.

Go through all setup assistants and in-app tutorials

Have you ever had a walkthrough tutorial suddenly stop walking you through?

I have.

And here’s the impression it gave me:

This lazy app is trying to automate customer support.

Had it worked, I probably would have thought, I’m really glad this app was able to answer my question so quickly.

Users are only tolerant of automated tutorials, walkthroughs, and bots when they work. When they don’t work, the company easily comes off as lazy and insincere.

When clicking on the “Publish” option in the image above, we’re taken through a tutorial that ends in a couple new possible actions: request a demo, or go through other tutorials.

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QA engineers need to test each and every possible combination. Some apps may only prompt a user to take one next step. Others may have pop-up tutorials that appear in every new area of the app. What happens if a user dismisses the tutorial? Does it go away forever?

Testers need to simultaneously check that the app’s walkthroughs and tutorials work as expected while asking themselves if there’s a better way to impress new users.

Loop QA into new UX changes

All of this comes back to creating a feedback loop between QA and UX.

QA can help verify the requirements of the customer experience and push it to continually improve. Exploratory testing allows testers to give feedback as the perfect user: one who knows exactly how to write the perfect bug report.

But opening up communication earlier on in the process is where the real magic happens. This is how QA gets to open up a new world of customer insight and contribute to the transformation of users into fans.

QA is tied to UX which is tied to first impressions which are tied to the overall corporate image that all business are concerned with.

For customer-centric testing that helps enterprises nail first impressions and continued use, get in touch with us.

Dayana is a QA engineer turned technology writer living in Milan, Italy. She's always down for a smoothie.
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