QA or not QA? Why Quality Assurance is so Important for the Success of Your Mobile Application
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Businesses implement and integrate IT developments to solve necessary tasks that range from increasing sales and audience coverage to automating processes, simplifying and speeding up operations, and improving their image.
The IT product market is highly competitive. A solution must go beyond fulfilling its intended function. A truly viable solution can’t be complicated or clunky to use. It must be simple and intuitive to use for its key consumer while, at the same time, technically secure and productive.
However, not all business representatives recognize the importance of how quality affects the final result. Some companies strengthen their products and strategies through the implementation of quality assurance techniques in product development. They ultimately achieve their goals. Others, however, remain disappointed..
Every year, the mobile application and smartphone market grows more saturated, and users grow more selective. If they encounter a low-quality product, there are plenty of alternatives. To stand out in the mobile application market, it’s essential your product reaches the proper level of quality. This is where mobile app quality assurance comes into play.
In this article, you will learn about mobile app QA, the cost of a defect in a product, and the five most important quality principles that you need to pay attention to when developing a mobile application that can succeed in a competitive market.
What is quality assurance and why is QA important?
Quality Assurance (QA) is a set of activities that covers all technological stages of development, release, and operation of a piece of software. QA can be undertaken at different stages of the software life cycle to ensure the required level of quality of the released product.
When evaluating a piece of software through the lens of mobile quality assurance, there are six characteristics we can use to identify the quality of what we’re working on. The six characteristics are functionality, reliability, usability, efficiency, maintainability, and portability.
6 Software Quality Characteristics for mobile app development
Testing is not the same as Quality Assurance
Many mistakenly equate mobile app testing with mobile app quality assurance.
Even though testing makes up the lion’s share of product development, it is not and cannot be exclusive and exhaustive. Additional mobile app QA is required beyond the testing that’s naturally part of a product’s development. There are many activities that, in combination with testing, provide a means of ensuring a high level of product quality.
Impact of Errors on the cost of App Development
Some time ago, a number of companies conducted research estimating the cost of errors that occur at different stages of software development.
Each company acted independently, and the results were approximately the same: if the cost of the effort required to detect and eliminate errors at the stage of writing code is taken as a unit, then the cost of identifying and eliminating an error at the stage of developing requirements will be five to ten times less, and the cost of finding and fixing an error at the maintenance stage is twenty times more.
In short, the earlier you can catch the defect, the better.
A good quality assurance process can help in this matter. It’s much easier and faster to fix a couple of words and sentences in the specification than to rewrite several modules or fix an architectural error in an already developed product.
For example, if a bug is discovered while developing software requirements, the cost of fixing it will be 100 conventional units, but if the same error is discovered at the stage of software testing, the cost of its elimination will be 1500 conventional units. After the release, the bug will cost 10,000 conventional units. If it’s never discovered, then the damage to the company can be indefinitely huge and affecting. Done properly, quality assurance can save you this potential headache.
If not caught, this problem has a domino effect. The later the error is discovered, the more changes need to be made, the more parts of the code will be involved — perhaps, some parts will have to be rewritten and agreed with the rest of the process participants — and the more costs that will incur. In severe cases, this domino effect of undiscovered defects might require starting the development cycle anew, leading to further missed deadlines and financial losses.
These risks are why it’s essential to take quality assurance seriously and start implementing these activities from the onset of the project.
Top 5 Mobile App Development Basics that affect Quality
During quality assurance, part of identifying potential product defects requires knowing where to look. To help with mobile app QA, we’re going to take a look at five quality assurance principles that can be implemented to minimize these aforementioned costs.
At a glance these are:
- the user interface is the face of the product and the company,
- never skimp on product cyber security,
- the absence of critical defects in the product,
- the product solves the problem, or task, of the user and meets their expectations, and
- competent support of the product.
Let’s take a deeper look.
1/ The user interface is the face of the product and the company
The user interface is the first thing a user encounters when they open your mobile app. It’s vital that the first impression of both the product and the company is positive, so that the user doesn’t delete it.
To do this we implemented an A/B test for the mobile app we were building.
Usually, the first impression is formed in a period of up to ten seconds. If the user interface is intuitive, harmonious, and easy to understand, the first impression will be positive. A positive first impression will minimize the chances users will look to an alternative solution.
To ensure the quality of the user interface, you must:
- Adhere to guidelines when designing the user interface. Guidelines are a set of recommendations, rules, and principles from the creators of the platform, or operating system, that these applications will run on. They can reduce the time and cost of development since everything that’s described in them has usually already been implemented as a ready-made element in the code and the developer doesn’t need to spend resources on writing them from scratch. For Android systems, this is Material Design, for iOS systems, Human Interface Guidelines.
- Analyze similar solutions in the mobile app market. There’s an expression that “everything has already been invented before us.” This is especially true when building interfaces. If we’re to assume both the most, and least, successful solutions are already on the market, all that remains is to analyze them, draw from the best, and learn what to avoid from the worst.
- Listen to users. Users know best as to what they want, what is missing in the product, and what should be discarded. Listen to them. You can also collect statistics that track the frequency of use of individual application modules for analysis and subsequent improvement of the interface based on these results. Examples of this would be using Amplitude, Google Firebase, or other similar services.
2/ Never skimp on product cybersecurity
Your product’s cybersecurity isn’t always noticeable, but a lack of quality product cyber security can cause serious financial and reputational losses. To qualitatively guarantee the security of a product, it’s necessary to ensure the implementation of the basic principles of security during quality assurance. These principles are:
- integrity, and
- availability of information.
There are many ways to provide proper product cybersecurity for various systems, tasks, and situations. These are largely covered in The Open Web Application Security Project® (OWASP).
3/ Absence of critical defects in the product
DCI research shows that 62% of those surveyed uninstall an app should they find any defects. Even with quality assurance, you can’t completely ensure that critical defects won’t be missed in the final product, but through it, you can reduce the likelihood of their occurrence. To do this, it’s necessary to carefully approach product testing and quality assurance at all stages of the apps life cycle with this in mind. If, however, a critical defect is found in the final product, it must be promptly eliminated, and measures must be taken to prevent such defects in the future.
4/ The product solves the problem, or task, of the user and meets their expectations
This is a simple and obvious rule that not everyone understands. A product is subject to change throughout all stages of development. Sometimes, there’s a chance that the initially declared characteristics may no longer meet the expectations of the users. This can happen because of a difference between the goals of the business and the user. This can be seen in the B2C sector, where a business, for its own reasons, can develop parts of the application that are not interesting to the end user. Before you release your app, be sure that it still fulfills the problem businesses and users set out to solve. Quality assurance can help with this.
5/ Competent support of the product
There is nothing worse than the situation when a company leaves a user one-on-one with their product with no information and no ability to ask questions. Don’t leave your users feeling marooned on an island of your creation. To ensure competent support, it is desirable to have:
- instructions for use of your product,
- a contact center with several support lines where users can address their problems with the product,
- process reviews in the application market and improve the product based on them, and
- materials to train your users on how to use your product.
While conducting mobile app quality assurance, look for ways to make the user’s life easier. The less lost, and the more taken care of, that a user feels the more likely they are to stick around
How IBA Group handles quality assurance issues in mobile app development
- Functional testing where we use manual and automated tests to ensure proper application operation, and we evaluate completeness, accuracy, and compliance of application functionality with the requirements.
- Non-functional testing where we use manual and automated tests to ensure proper application operation on every test level in the context of non-functional requirements. We test application UX/UI, security, performance, and compatibility.
- Manual testing where carry out functional and non-functional manual tests at all levels, accounting for positive and negative scenarios.
- Automated testing where we automate functional and nonfunctional tests to cut time on testing, excluding human factors to receive an objective test assessment.
- Test levels where we perform component integration testing, as well as system and acceptance testing at different stages of software development.Test levels where we perform component integration testing, as well as system and acceptance testing at different stages of software development.
Should we identify a quality assurance issue during mobile app development, our ISTQB certified test-engineers, test-analysts, and test-managers work independently, or as an incorporated part of your development team.
One example of this was while working on a transportation app. During quality assurance, we noticed that when users reached a pop-up window that showed the vehicles stopping at a bus stop, that there was a falloff in users clicking through to view more information and the vehicle’s full schedule. We wanted to ensure that users were easily able to benefit from the full functionality of the app. Our assumption was that users perceived the plates with route numbers to be untappable, so we ran an A/B test.
The test ran for 30 days, and we discovered that a variation on the existing application yielded a projected 25% increase in the vehicle’s schedule usage. Quality assurance had come to the rescue.
A final note on quality assurance
Quality assurance is an essential tool that makes both the business and the user happy. Through competent and fruitful collaboration of the customer’s business, development, and support teams, the most successful, popular, and profitable solutions are created.
If you’d like to learn more about how we test and can provide quality assurance for your company, and how our technical expertise in quality assurance can help your business reach a new level, please contact us, and we’ll help you answer the question — is your mobile application set up for success?
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