How can we let users test mobile apps in the context the apps are made for without losing the advantages of office testing?




After doing a lot of user testing (also during my graduation internship), I noticed that user tests are never carried out in the real life environment of an app, but largely at the office or a separate test location. As a result, there is always an important element of the test missing, namely the environment for which the product is made for. Also, the learning curve of an app is never tested. Perhaps the users don't understand something at first but understand an app's function after having used it twice.

For interaction designers who are involved in user testing, there currently isn’t a good tool that makes it possible for them to facilitate the test sessions in the environment that he mobile app is made for. Because this isn’t possible, the sessions are generally still carried out in a usability lab, but as a result you will only find out how the functionalities of an app work during a test and you will not find out how the user can or will use the app in a real life environment.

Test process

I started my desk research with researching the current possible testing methods for smartphones. It appeared that there are three different kinds of methods of which the following two were relevant for my project.

Image of the process of a moderated user test.
The process of a moderated user test.
Image of the process of an unmoderated user test.
The process of an unmoderated user test.

Current test process

To bridge the gap between the two testing methods without changing the current testing process too much I started researching how companies currently apply the moderated user test method. Because often the theoretical part gets adjusted to real life use. That's why I started looking at how three companies applied user testing and visualised that process in the same way as the previous processes to get a good overview of the differences.

Image of the process how companies currently test.
The process how companies currently test.

The process on Contask

Now that I have a good view of the theory and practice of the testing methods, it is time to see what the process in Contask will look like. As the method of testing changes, the test process also changes. I wanted to prevent companies having to learn a completely new method. With that in mind, I developed a way to build on top of the current process. In this way, companies only have to make a few minor changes to their process and the bar for using Contask is reduced.

Image of Contask's new test process
The new test process with Contask


There is nothing like a good sketching session. My design process for Contask also started with a lot of wireframe sketches. In my opinion, this is the ideal way to quickly create and explore screen layouts and to see how and whether the user requirements all fit into the designs. When I was satisfied with the global layout on the sketches I started to work on designing them in detail on the computer.

Contask wireframes
Multiple exploration wireframe sketches of Contask in order to find the right design solution.


After the research was finalised and the wireframes where finished it was time to design and prototype Contask. For this project I choose to make my prototype in Axure, as Axure was the only tool that met my prototyping requirements that I needed to validate the product.
The screens that are shown are a redesign of the original screens. These are made in early 2017 in Sketch. I redesigned the screens as my main focus during the original project was more on research and process then on design. In order to give the product the finishing touch it deserved I decided to redesign it as part of a design exercise.

Welkom scherm Contask
The welcome screen. Here you get a quick overview of the latest sessions and can choose the app you want to see.
Dashboard scherm Contask
The Dashboard, the home of the testing app with an overview of multiple activities.
Test sessies scherm Contask
Test sessions page. An overview of every test session of the app.
Test sessie scherm Contask
Test session page. Here you can see, analyse and comment on the test sessions.
Statistieken scherm Contask
Statistics page. On this page you can get insights on how your participants use the app.
Test deelnemers scherm Contask
Test participant page. Here you can see who participate and you can click to see their full profile and activities.
Test deelnemer gedetailleerd scherm Contask
Test profile of a test person. Here you can see a small bio of the person and her activities.


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