Using human interface guidelines in app testing

Mobile app development is reaching newer bounds by the day. What started with a few thousand apps in 2007-2008 timeframe is now close to 1.8 million applications just in the US. If such are the numbers, imagine the global footprint. While this is exciting to see, an equally alarming number is that the average shelf life of an application is a mere 30 days. If you introspect to see why this number is so low, despite all the time and effort that goes into building them, it is not very difficult to understand the underlying reasons. Poor quality of the designed applications is one core reason, where the developer (especially freelance), often puts together a quick and dirty test effort to evaluate his application under the cover of ensuring its readiness to market.

If you look further into it, the issue is often with the overall design of the application. The design has probably been put together without much forethought and in a quick attempt to ideate the core functionality. This is where the human interface guidelines (HIG) come in very handy. These are guidelines aimed to help developers, develop a usable, intuitive yet simple design for end users. These are available specific to varied platforms and operating systems such as the HIG for iOS, Android. These guidelines in the process also help bring in a desired level of design standardization within a specific platform.

While designers and developers ideally need to leverage these HIG principles in their app development efforts, the other side benefit is that testers also need to be encouraged to use these in their quality evaluation efforts. If app testing is done with scenarios outlined in the HIG documents, it helps testers check for both implementations that have been done and also make recommendations for ones that have not been done. So, it helps them catch both re-active defects and make pro-active suggestions. Given that the HIG itself is meant to make the mobile apps more usable, these documents are very intuitive to comprehend. This makes it easier for testers to follow along and design their test scenarios.

If guidelines such as these are adopted, it will help us enhance the quality and the shelf life of mobile applications, and further bring in maturity into the mobile app development and testing landscape, which is very vast and somewhat chaotic today, given the sheer number of developers and applications on the global level. Let’s thus use these human interface guidelines, as testers, to bring more relevance in our testing efforts and add value to the mobile app development discipline.

About the Author

Rajini Padmanaban

Rajini Padmanaban

As Vice President, Testing Services and Engagements, Rajini Padmanaban leads the engagement management for some of QA InfoTech's largest and most strategic accounts. She has over seventeen years of professional experience, primarily in software quality assurance. Rajini advocates software quality through evangelistic activities including blogging on test trends, technologies and best practices. She is also a regular speaker in conferences run by SQE, QAI STC ,ATA, UNICOM, EuroStar and has orchestrated several webinars. Her writings are featured in TechWell, Sticky Minds, Better Software Magazine. She has co-authored a book on crowdsourced testing . She can be reached at

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