Poor Mobile App Testing: What it Really Costs

By | December 18, 2014

iPhone-Apps iPhone-AppsSoftware testing has always shared a tricky relationship with the business end of things. It can be difficult to accurately calculate the ROI for testing activities, and nowhere is this more problematic than in the highly pressurized world of mobile development. In an environment where time is everything, it’s testing that most often gets squeezed out of the loop. Though cutting QA will certainly reduce initial overhead, many businesses don’t realize the real cost of poor or rushed mobile app testing.

App Store Ratings

Mobile is mainstream and mobile users are more discerning than ever. The quality standard for apps is high and when they fall short of expectations, users have one major outlet – app store reviews. Releasing an app to the masses without properly testing it first is tantamount to sending out an open invitation for poor reviews. As if bad ratings along weren’t enough, studies show a strong correlation between an app’s rating and its app store ranking. In Apple’s app store in particular, ratings have a cascading effect on applications.

According to data collected from the store, a ratings shift as small as half a star has a significant impact on the number of reviews and downloads an app receives. This allows high quality apps to build positive momentum and make their way up the charts. Conversely, it also pushes lower quality apps quickly down the charts where they are less likely to be seen and downloaded by potential users. To illustrate this point more clearly, one forthcoming developer published the effect a .3 drop in ratings had on one of his apps. As its rating fell from 4.6 to 4.3, its download numbers plummeted an incredible 60%.

Reduced Brand Visibility

Mobile App Testing - Top Grossing Apps

A majority of the top grossing apps are at least 4 stars. (Image Credit: http://www.ubergizmo.com/)

As your app store rating falls, so too does your app store ranking. Research shows that in order to be listed in the top 1000 Apple app store apps, earning 4 stars is all but an explicit requirement. While QA alone does not guarantee your apps will receive 5 star reviews, a thorough mobile app testing can help identify the most common problems that lead to lower reviews, such as instability and slow performance.

First Impressions are Everything

Think about your own mobile app habits. How many times will you use an app if it does not work properly? How long will you keep it on your device and how soon do you start looking for alternative options?

For most of us, it doesn’t take long before we replace a faulty, unstable, or misbehaving app. After all, switching apps only requires a short time investment. With that in mind it should go without saying that in the mobile landscape, first impressions really are everything. The best way to ensure a positive first impression is to thoroughly test your mobile app before releasing it to the public. The earlier you can identify and troubleshoot defects, the less of an impact they will have on your bottom line.

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About Cheylene Thongkham

Cheylene Thongkham is a London-based technical writer and experienced software tester. She earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2007 and an ISTQB certification in 2010. After working as a web application tester in the US, Cheylene assumed the role of Senior QA Analyst at a FTSE 250 company in London where she oversaw testing for mobile websites, business intelligence, and Oracle databases. She is currently working towards becoming an Oracle Certified Professional.