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Showing posts tagged with Quality App

February 11, 2014

Mike Hines

There is still plenty of room for more great mobile apps. That is, if you’re thorough and obsessed with quality. Recently, I was reminded of the importance of doing a solid job of testing all aspects of an app when reviewing geography bee apps.  

For the last two years, my son has competed in his middle school geography bee, and rather than suggest that he spend his time buried in an atlas, I suggested a handful of apps designed to help students prepare for geography bees. Of the apps that we found, not one app was rated 5-star by customers.

The shortcomings of these apps generally fell into one of three categories:

  • The app was different than described
  • Poor UI/workflow impeded use
  • Deal-Breaker Bugs

Description should match the apps

Sometimes an app might be useful but just doesn’t deliver what a customer expected based on the description. Imagine an app that purports to be a Geography Bee study app, yet quizzes for dates of events and asks for definitions of sedimentary rocks. Some of the apps we tried were like this, being better suited to geology or history quizzes than to a geography bee.

What can you do?

Make sure the product title and app description accurately reflects what the app actually does. The apps that I was disappointed in were not bad apps, just a bad fit for my needs.

Streamlined User Experience

Sometimes an app had solid content, but the navigation was too confusing or it took too many steps. I’m in the business of apps, so I’ll give any app a thorough review. But many users won’t bother to enter their name and age every single time the app launches. And if a customer loses their user state in the middle of a series of questions, you can bet they’ll be frustrated. 

What can you do?

Think more like a user. For example, when a student uses a geography bee app, more than likely they’ll be interrupted. The app not only needs to go from start to finish cleanly, but it also needs to tolerate interruptions, be fast to re-enter, and avoid re-doing completed work. Have someone else try the app and see what he or she tries to do. If they seem frustrated, then it’s probably worth considering whether the experience needs to be re-designed in some way.

Squash the Bugs

Strangely enough, some bugs were easier to live with than problems with UX or failure to deliver on value. Bugs, like truncated buttons, pixelated graphics or having to tap twice on an answer, might cost a star in the rating, but they still leave the app usable. Other bugs, like text entry boxes hidden under keyboards, were considerably more problematic. The app whose UX I liked the best contained outstanding educational content, but it didn’t get much use because it kept crashing on both iOS and Android tablets.

What can you do?

Be maniacal about your QA. If your resources are constrained, there are solid testing services out there. The services have apps that they can refer you to, so you can get a sense of how well the testing works. Check out the referral apps, and if the quality seems top notch, consider using them to help with your QA. This attention to detail can go a long way to help you get the app rating you’re looking for.

 

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