Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.

Bill Gates

By observing the recent trends, we can easily say that the mobile revolution has triggered or in a way catalyzed some of the hottest ideas, like user-centric design, user experience, behavioral segmentation, and one-to-one marketing. You might ask, how are those terms related to testing? The answer is that they require user touch and feedback.

When we examine mobile apps, we see that the aforementioned ideas are all visible. Mobile apps should be designed to be user-centric, the features should be concordant with the targeted user’s experience, the user segmentation/profiling should be done in a behavioral way rather than a demographic way, and marketing should be done one-to-one. All these mean that users are on the rise, so in order to be successful with any mobile app you need to focus on them. As testing is a way of verifying and validating the user requirements, the first and one of the wisest starting points of any mobile testing activity should be based on the users.

Before you start testing, you need to understand the users’ needs, define their cultural norms and differences, segregate them into generations (X, Y, Z, C) or any behavioral groups, and above all empathize with them. A mobile tester should be able to distinguish what is important for the users and what is not.

If the notions of user-centricity and empathy are not practiced or widely spread throughout your testing organization, good testing cannot be spoken of. Especially if you are doing mobile testing! Remember that a good mobile tester should act like a bridge between business and IT, and if one side of the bridge is deficient, you can never talk about completeness or balance.

Now let me explain what empathy means in terms of testing. If we want to have a good start in any mobile testing project, first we need to clearly understand the answer to “What is important to our users?” As we all experience time pressures sooner or later, this understanding will give us flexibility in prioritizing our tests and help us keep our focus on the most important features and functions.

Imagine two different users:

First user:

  • Manager in an IT organization
  • Living in a metropolitan city
  • Technology-addicted and uses Internet for social media, banking, shopping, and traveling
  • Has a smartphone

Second user:

  • Housewife
  • Living in a suburb
  • Uses Internet for Instagram, Facebook, magazine news, and checking diet programs
  • Has a smartphone

The only similarity between these two users is that they own a smartphone. If you are a tester testing the camera application available in both users’ phones, you need to know that user one may use the app for scanning a QR code in a virtual shop, and user two will use it to take a selfie to check how she looks after she finishes her makeup. The same app can be used for several purposes, and all reflect some of your users’ behavior.

If we believe that testing is context dependent, we need to empathize and see what users say about the app, how they use it, their motivations in using the product, and their pain points while using it and why. These are all valuable insights for better mobile testing.