The Difference Between UX Testing of a Website and Mobile Application

UX testing is an important step in the development or updating of any software or web service. Like beta testing and post-launch UX metric, this testing stage while time consuming is invaluable for ensuring that the service is right for the demographic being targeted.

However, there is a fatal mistake many often make with UX testing, and that’s assuming that mobile and web software may be tested in exactly the same ways. This cannot be farther from the truth, and we’re going to demonstrate why below.

First, web software is cross-platform, meaning that it will operate on a multitude of devices and display types over its lifetime, whereas mobile software will not. Web software and designs are therefore capable of supporting some objects and assets such as Flash or AJAX that mobile phones don’t support as well.

While there is something to be said for testing mobile-oriented pages with a methodology of UX testing similar to that of mobile software, and testing the page with mobile, the process just isn’t the same for a web page.

The difference also shows its head when it comes to bandwidth and speed tests between the two. True mobile software resides locally on the phone, meaning that once it is installed, it does not need to be loaded from a remote location unless its content is dependent upon that aspect specifically.

Contrarily, web services must be loaded every time they are used, from a remote server, which means that testing for UX quality with web software is just as much about its ability to load quickly and efficiently as it is much of anything else.

With mobile app UX testing, there are features inherent to mobile devices that other devices, for which web services are intended, will not have. One key thing is touch, which mobile devices depend heavily upon. This means that testing the interface requires both stylus and direct finger touch testing, and over an extended period of time.

Aesthetics are drastically different when conducting testing for web pages and services versus mobile apps as well. Mobile apps run on devices with considerable smaller displays and lower resolution, so with them it’s all about simplicity and ease to read. Web services, however, can be far more visually complex, leading to a while subset of UX tests that are all about the visuals and presentation alone.

With mobile apps, performance on limited space and computing power is also far more important than with most web pages and services, which strongly differentiates how UX testing for efficiency and capability is handled and measured there.

Finally, web pages and services are inherently cross-platform, where mobile apps aren’t entirely so. Unless they’re Java or something similar, apps for various mobile devices are dependent upon architecture and operating system, just as is the case with software for PCs. This means that when testing an app intended to run on most mobile devices, specific devices need to be sequentially tested with an entire regime for each, where web pages and services do not.

We can clearly see that mistaking one for the other or assuming them the same is utterly disastrous when doing UX testing , and we must never forget these differences in the future!