What is a mobile usability test and do you need it?

Anna RubkiewiczJune 09, 20207 min

According to Buildfire, a leading mobile app builder platform, an astounding 2.8 million mobile apps are offered in the Google Play Store, whereas 2.2 million apps are available for download in the iOS App Store.

With such a colossal competition, chances of your mobile app topping the charts are quite slim. However, there are ways to beat the competition. Applications that bring forth innovative concepts and creative solutions for the digital world can easily gain popularity.

Another important factor that garners success is ensuring your app provides a premium user experience. If the end-users are engaged, they will keep coming back for more.

But how can we achieve all this in the advanced world of mobile app development? The answer is simple – by conducting mobile usability testing.

Before you embark on the exciting journey of mobile usability testing, let us discuss what a mobile usability test is, how it benefits your business, and how to conduct it. We will also talk about five recommended usability testing tools that might come in handy during app testing.

Improve usability testing

What is a mobile usability test and why is it important

Mobile usability testing is a method of usability testing performed on mobile products. The purpose of a usability test is to gauge the experience of the end-users with your products.

The benefits of mobile usability tests

There are several reasons why you should conduct usability testing for mobile apps – from understanding your product better, identifying the loopholes, getting unbiased feedback, to eventually increasing sales. Here are some major benefits that can be derived by conducting mobile usability testing:

Understanding the user’s in-app behavior and the goals they are trying to achieve

Usability testing is the best way to gauge the user’s in-app behavior in real-time. It gives you an insight into how easy it is for users to use your app and how much the end-users appreciate your product.

Finding bugs, errors, and other underperforming parts of the app

Mobile applications, no matter how carefully developed, are bound to have some issues. These problems can be as simple as a confusing piece of microcopy or as big as a server error. By conducting usability testing, you can identify and rectify them beforehand.

Optimizing your development costs

By pinpointing which features strike the fancy of your users, you can focus all your efforts on developing them. This will not only optimize development costs but will also direct the customers away from your competition towards your app.

Improving your mobile app retention rate

Having repeat, long-term customers is the goal of any mobile app developer. By understanding the user behavior patterns, you can adjust the application to cater your target audiences’ specific needs.. This in turn enhances your app’s retention rate..

Creating not just better UX, but also a better CX by offering in-app sales

While having a great user interface and app functionality is important, offering in-app purchase options can elevate your sales to a new level. The usability test will also help you in developing a seamless user and customer service experience.

Mobile usability testing

How to Conduct Mobile Usability Testing

A mobile usability test is conducted by choosing a set of designated users that are asked to interact with your mobile app in different ways. Their interactions and behavior patterns are documented to assess if there are any issues or bugs in the app and whether it speaks well to the end-users or not.

The mobile usability testing gives a peek into how your target audience might use your app in the real world. It also allows you to separate yourself from the app and look at your product through the eyes of your users. Conducting a usability test on your app is imperative before launch to mitigate risk.. If you figure out the problem areas of your app beforehand, it is easy to fix them. Once your app goes into production, however, backtracking and fixing bugs becomes more challenging.

Research proves that usability testing is the key to the success of any app. People rely heavily on their smartphones for everything and mobile app usage is spiking. Ironically, there are still thousands, if not millions of apps that go unnoticed. This is all because developers are either not investing time in conducting usability testing or they are just not doing it right.

So, what does it take to ensure that your app usability testing is an effective and insightful process? The best way is to create a step-by-step plan ahead of your actual user testing session.

Steps involved in conducting a mobile usability test

Step 1: Define the objectives of the test

Schedule a team meeting before the testing phase begins to identify what you know and what information gaps you are trying to fill through the usability test. Carving out objectives and deciding on which aspects of the app to test should be the first and foremost step.

Step 2: Set up the tasks to perform

Come up with a list of questions and scenarios to hand out to your participants. Organizing your tasks in various scenarios expedites the testing process and makes it easier for both the developers and the participants to conduct and understand the results of the testing.

Step 3: Create documentation

Document everything to make sure you stay on track.

Step 4: Select your test participants

A key factor in usability testing is deciding on the number and type of participants. Consider the demographics and select certain personality types to make sure your test participants reflect your target audience.

Step 5: Run your mobile usability testing

Figure out whether you want to conduct in-house or remote testing. Both options have pros and cons. Remote testing is beneficial for businesses that are on a tight budget or have time constraints. Whereas, the moderated or in-lab testing gives you the power to observe user expressions in real-time and receive instant feedback from the participants.

Planning before you start

5 Recommended Tools for Mobile Usability Testing

Here are the tools that will make your usability testing go seamlessly:


This tool includes a complete app marketing package that comes equipped with powerful A/B testing features. The number of participants that can take the test is unlimited, it also allows you to build target groups based on demographics and other selected criteria.

A/B testing features

Source: Swrve

Loop 11

Loop 11 lets you conduct remote usability tests and invite testers via social media At the end of the testing session, you receive a report with certain stats like task completion rate, successful and failed aspects of the app, the time spent per task, and common navigation paths, to name a few.

Usability tests in Loop 11

Source: Loop 11


UserZoom enhances usability testing by providing you with participants to test the apps in their natural environment. The ability to track the facial expressions of the users as they use each feature and the time spent on each task, among other things, makes this tool quite handy. Observing users in an artificial environment with cue cards can sometimes provide altered results, but this is not the case with UserZoom.

Test the apps in their natural enviornment

Source: UserZoom


This unique tool offers expert consultation with the Applause staff who guide you in vetting the best participants for your mobile usability test. They also offer usability surveys and audits along with mock survey questions.

Test your app in Applause

Source: Applause


This top of the line tool provides session replays and offers recordings of your usability test. Recording and replaying the test sessions helps in understanding the small nuances and how well the users interact with your website on both mobile and desktop. If you want to improve your overall UX, eliminate muddy processes, and remove bugs and errors from your website or hybrid app, then it’s best to invest in LiveSession. We offer a free trial.

Test your app in Applause

Source: LiveSession

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Mobile Usability Testing – a Recap

Nothing is more frustrating than developing and launching a trendy new mobile app that does not speak well to the end-users. If you want to collect in-app analytics, avoid low user adoption rates, and boost your sales, mobile usability testing is the way to go before launching your app.

Here is a brief recap of the key findings discussed in the article:

  • Mobile usability testing is conducted to gauge the experience of end-users concerning your mobile app. It also evaluates how well the users interact with your app.
  • It is important to conduct usability testing as it provides several benefits including, but not limited to, understanding the end user's interaction with your app, figuring out bugs and loopholes beforehand, optimizing your development costs, and increasing user retention.
  • A step-by-step approach to performing usability testing, including links to guides by leading industry experts.
  • Five recommended tools for mobile usability testing and the features that make them stand out.

All that’s left to say is good luck with your mobile usability testing!

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