Seven seconds. That’s the average amount of time it takes to form a first impression. Unfortunately for apps that fumble their first introduction, a Harvard University study found that it takes an average of seven positive exposures to change a negative first impression.
When applied to the world of app development, these figures can be downright nerve-wracking. When a user installs and launches your app for the first time, you’ve got just seconds to make a positive impression and capture them as a user. Otherwise, they’re probably gone for good since it’s extremely difficult to prompt a user to relaunch an app that delivered a negative first experience. And it’s even harder to get a user to engage in the seven positive interactions that the Harvard study says would be required to neutralize a negative experience with the user interface (UI).
But fortunately, there is a way to minimize the chances of your app leaving a negative first impression: beta testing for mobile applications. This process gives you the ability to identify and resolve problem areas within your app’s user interface before some or all of your users have it, allowing you to create a better user experience (UX).
What is Beta Testing and How is it Used to Improve UX?
Beta testing is one of the most important phases of the app development process, as it allows you to refine the user interface while actively identifying pain points and bugs. These issues can then be addressed before the app lands in the hands of an actual user if you perform closed beta testing. And even if you perform open beta testing with actual consumers, users are far more likely to forgive any clunkiness in the app’s beta version because the term “beta version” implies that the app is a work in progress. In fact, most beta versions include a number of prompts that encourage the user to provide feedback.
Beta testing has many benefits, ranging from gaining more users and behavior flow data to decreasing negative reviews (which, in turn, spurs sales or downloads since your app will have a more positive image in the app stores). Smoothing out the rough patches within your app can improve user experience by making your app more intuitive and easier to use.
What Aspects of UX Benefit from Beta Testing?
Each app’s beta version is unique in terms of its strengths and weaknesses. That said, there are a number of areas that should be a primary focus as your development team strives to refine the application’s UX:
- Design and branding: The branding and overall design of the user interface should reflect your company’s personality as a whole. If your company is hyper-modern and innovative, then a sleek, minimalist design may work nicely. Conversely, if your company makes “shabby chic” furniture and home goods, then you may be well-served by a UI design that reflects this style.
- Architecture and navigation: Your mobile app’s architecture can be a “make or break” factor. Perhaps it’s hard to navigate or maybe you have too many options to choose from. It’s also possible that your app’s layout is just confusing or unclear. These issues can lead to a scenario where your user gets actively frustrated or misses out on some of the best features and functionalities your app has to offer.
- Ease of use: Ease of use is a huge consideration and it’s one that developers—and those who are heavily involved in the development process—are often blind to. As someone who took part in most (or all) aspects of development, you’ll find it’s easy to use the app since you’re familiar with virtually every nook and cranny. However, an average Joe may find the UI lacks the intuitiveness that’s vital to the app’s success. Beta testing gives you an opportunity to observe how new users interact with the interface, gathering essential behavior flow data. This data can be used to identify areas where users are getting hung up, in addition to providing you with insight into which regions of the app may be under-utilized due to factors such as poor navigability.
Many companies are tempted to shorten or skip the beta testing process in their haste to get the app into the marketplace, but this approach can backfire dramatically. Something as simple as the wrong background color or font size could spell disaster in terms of UX. And if you shorten or skip the beta testing phase, you may discover these problems only after the app is in the hands of actual users. The result can be lots of bad reviews and negative buzz amongst bloggers and social media users.
Reversing a negative first impression can be extremely difficult—if not impossible—so users who are alienated early on are essentially gone for good. You could find yourself in a situation where the app falls woefully short of its true potential, so you’re faced with the decision to settle for mediocrity or relaunch the app under a totally new brand name. Both options involve a significant financial loss.
Finding an experienced app developer is key, as this will minimize your chances of creating an app with a less-than-fabulous—or downright clunky—user interface. A top development team is well-positioned to know what will work and what’s apt to fail; this means they’re far more likely to get it right the first time.
The team at SevenTablets has extensive experience in the realm of beta testing and user interface design. In fact, these are amongst our many specialties. Our developers are also experienced in many emerging technologies, including augmented reality, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence.
Our company headquarters are located in Dallas, and SevenTablets also has regional offices in Austin and Houston. But we’re not limited to Texas, as our clients are scattered throughout the United States. If you’re ready to chat about your app concept, contact our team today.
Chase holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
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