The following is a guest contributed post from Dave Bell, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube.
Mobile development can get expensive, and while you may want your app to match your ideal vision of perfection before fully launching it in the app stores, it could lead to lost opportunities in collecting valuable user data, gaining market exposure, and, most importantly, generating revenue. Spending too much time working on endless iterations and implementing countless attribution tools could lead to your app being outdated by the time it hits the market.
Consumer tastes in the mobile environment are constantly changing as well. Screenshot design styles that may be in vogue now may not be popular three months down the line when your app is finally launched, and may jeopardize your conversion rate.
In order to avoid the risk of your app sitting in development limbo too long – we present to you five methods to efficiently test your app out and gather valuable actionable data as quickly as possible.
Testing Your App’s Functionality
- Testing Your App
Whether you’re creating a game or an app that’s trying to solve a problem, the quickest and easiest way to test your app is to have you and your team actually use it yourselves. After all, who better to report bugs and discover potential UX funnel flaws than the actual designers and engineers themselves?
It’s important to develop apps that you would want to use yourself. How could you make the unique selling proposition to convince potential customers to switch over to your app from competitors when you can’t even convince yourself and your own team to? Internal feedback should always be taken seriously, as everybody should earnestly want the product to success.
- Focus Group Tests
Of course, there are two problems with testing your own app:
- You and your team may not be who the product is built for.
- You and your team have been working on your app for so long that what may seem perfectly normal to you could be a bewildering shortcoming to anybody seeing the app for the first time.
It’s pertinent to step back and get data on how people outside of your team use your app. Invite family, friends, local college students, any pair of fresh eyes to come in and test it out. Set up a testing area with cameras and track what users are touching within the app, see their reactions, and check the user experience flow. Find out what functions or features may be too confusing, hidden, or misleading.
If you feel that there may be too many factors at play that can unnaturally affect user behavior when conducting in-house user testing, or if you don’t have the facilities or bandwidth to run your own testing, consider offloading your UX tests to services like usertesting.com or playtestcloud.com, where you pay testers to try out your app and receive videos of their interaction and reactions.
- Soft Launching
Tried and true, soft launching is the penultimate method to gather user data – second only to actually globally launching your app. Whether your goal is to see how well your app retains users, or out its monetization rates, or even just to test server stability, there’s a test territory that could fit your needs.
Territories such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand provide test markets that capture similar cultural behaviors of US users and can bring in valuable data in terms of engagement and monetization. Whereas, if you’d like to get enough data purely to prepare your server capacity for a launch, consider launching in large Commonwealth countries such as Malaysia or Pakistan where, while the average lifetime value may not be as high, their common use of the English language and lower cost per install can provide affordable insight.
Testing Your Creatives
- Marketing Materials – Quantitative Data
As you soft launch your app, take advantage of the opportunity to test out marketing creatives with some paid social marketing as well. Conduct some A/B tests and see what ads garner the highest conversion rates. While localization is important, not everybody can afford to localize their marketing materials to match the cultural tastes of every country. Aim to test in countries culturally similar to your “target” country – if your main market is the US, test out your game and ads in countries such as Canada or Australia.
- App Creatives ( Icon + Screenshots ) – Qualitative Data
As the app industry is very data-driven, analysis of big data is important for us to assess and justify our decisions. But don’t sweat the small stuff data. LEGO famously nearly came to their own demise by only drawing exclusively from big data – all their research had pointed to millennials being impatient and uncreative, leading the famous toy maker to make increasingly larger (and unsuccessful) blocks to cater to the newer generation. It wasn’t until the company interviewed a sole 11-year-old boy in Germany that they learned what truly was appealing about LEGO, and thus turned around their business.
Mobile App Optimization services can provide valuable qualitative data by conducting focus group tests with their communities of app enthusiasts, asking their users for personal feedback. While it can be difficult to test out what icons and screenshots you should deploy on the app stores without doing a launch, you can gather valuable human insights on what aspects of your creative output are appealing and why.