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Bring the Human Factors Into App Testing

By Casey Houser
April 25, 2016

The development of applications, both for mobile and desktop, must harness the best parts of its processes to result in success. Creation of ideas about design and function ultimately lead to working prototypes, and every app must undergo a testing phase, the final step between development and release to consumers. That step is critical.

Without good testing methodologies, companies can release products that don’t look or feel right. Users may find them cumbersome and shy away from use, even for the most critical of tasks. How can companies know when they’ve hit the perfect medium of form and function? Tech Republic may have a couple pointers.

Tech Republic’s latest blog post notes the important “human factors” that should remain in focus during app testing. Although developers may have a solid understanding of how an app should function underneath the hood, testers will know how it feels in their hands.

This process can begin with proper screen navigation. Companies should strive to create a visual experience that works well. Developers should leave room to type, to move elements easily on the screen, and to make buttons and form fields easy to click or tap. The end result should never contain a “flat” application that either packs the viewing area with smaller screens or requires that users dig through multiple menus to retrieve data. An overload in the number of clicks or taps it takes to retrieve information can hinder a good user experience.

Users will also want to see that their applications have been developed with the environment in mind. If an app is meant to be used outside the office, it should work well on mobile devices. If it’s better suited to desk work, it should shine on the desktop.

In either configuration, developers will want to stray away from using jargon and apply meaningful terms that apply to their target population. Button labels and form field descriptions should be easy for the average end user to understand. In addition, apps should also fit well with the routine of specific markets. If an app takes data from back office processes and moves it to the front office, does it recognize the role that the front and back office play in the market?

Companies can also make sure their end users remain happy with a product by beefing up its security. Apps should have the ability to log and report errors in a manner that’s easily accessible and simple to read. Users should also be able to find such logs with little effort. Application testers should also see what it’s like to create errors in an application. If the app can handle errors without freezing the entire screen, the developers have done their homework.

Finally, it is worth mention that the most human of the human factors are the actual end users. While testers can help find bugs in a piece of software, the true test of usability comes from the people who will work with the product every day. Developers should make an effort to bring in customer service representatives, hospital officials, bankers, any anyone else who fits a target user population. Once those individuals give the green light, developers can know they have a solid product.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Writer

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