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The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, design, marketing, new product development, user experience, user testing | Posted on 15-12-2011

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The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development

The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development


A reference tool that helps people navigate out of harms way

We’ve finished user-testing and we’re about to launch our first app: a learning and reference tool that helps people navigate out of harms way by avoiding potential collisions on the sea. It helps people learn and understand the International Maritime Organisation’s navigation lights and shapes and the collision regulations (ColRegs)

It’s better than flash cards, less weighty than a book and the simple in-app navigation means that users can pinpoint the shape, light and rule quickly by referring to the menus and graphics. Users that tested the app have been very positive about their experience using it and have pointed out some improvements that we’ve acted on.


You don’t need an app for that

A colleague of mine, a journalist working in publishing, always says, when the subject is apps: “you don’t need an app for that.” “You need a mobile something but not an app – perhaps an m-site, because it’s more dynamic”. But in our case users will not be opening emails and reading sites on their mobile phones at sea.

Who is your target audience?

Another colleague in media production that I’ve always admired always asks “who is your target audience and what are their mobility characteristics and needs?”

At iGlimpse we’ve spoken to our target groups, analysed their lives, reading activity, their use of technology and we’ve developed mobile apps that embrace the concept of “dead time”.

We’ve developed our first few apps to allow our users to dip in and out of the subject matter at will, on a need-to-know basis.

Talking To App Users

Talking to our app users we discovered that they do not know that they need something until they need it and, therefore, their search for information most often happens on the spur of the moment. That made us realise that our apps needed to be part of their daily lives, in their pockets, ready to fire up anytime, any place.

ColRegs NavLights is simple and it can be dipped into and is ideal for “reading-on-the-go“.

What if we had not spoken to our users?

If we’d not researched our users’ needs carefully at the outset, attended shows, met with users, talked to trainers and tested the apps online via beta and with survey monkey, I think we’d have defaulted and done something similar to what we had previously done for 20 years: shoved in as much as possible between the back and front cover of a book to give it the pagination and thickness needed to justify the £25 price point.

Being able to see how mobile devices serve a very different purpose to other media has meant that we’ve avoided many mistakes we might have made if we’d followed our instincts.

What about app pricing? 

As far as pricing is concerned, we had to price competitively and in accordance with our audience. It’s a fact that people will spend hours evaluating a £1.99 app then go and spend £2.50 on a very mediocre cup of coffee. So we spent time positioning ourselves in the competitive landscape, looking at generic media and direct competition on the app store. We hope we’ve got the price right but only a solid number of adoptions and some positive recommendations will prove whether or not that is the case.
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