Protecting the user experience: The importance of software testing for Digital Transformation

Protecting the user experience: The importance of software testing for Digital Transformation

Lee McClendon, Chief Digital OfficerTricentis, says that by integrating automated testing from the get-go, businesses will achieve quicker innovation and superior user experience.

Despite being a hot topic of conversation at the executive level for some time now, Digital Transformation still represents an ongoing priority for leadership teams. Whether it’s about achieving growth, remaining current, attracting talent, creating a competitive differentiator or reinventing a non-digital product/service in order to stay in business, creating digital strategies remains a key strategic initiative.

For many, the pace of Digital Transformation is being driven by customer experience and expectations. Since Covid temporarily removed many of the physical touchpoints with the brands around us, digital channels have become a fundamental part of life. Social restrictions may be a thing of the past, but our interactions with brands have been changed for good.

While business models, services and applications all affect business growth, the user experience is king. Customers have become accustomed to, and indeed embraced, the ‘Amazon effect’ on the way that they shop and now expect the same level of accessibility from any brand.

One in six shoppers will walk away from a purchase if they’re having a poor customer experience, while 49% of US and UK shoppers will abandon a brand to which they had been loyal for the previous 12 months. Poor user experience therefore risks more than loss of a sale; it can irrevocably break the brand/customer bond, impacting brand perception and referrals. Most importantly, this impacts revenue.

Recent research has demonstrated the vital correlation between improving the digital experience and the bottom line. According to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Future Enterprise Resilience and Spending survey, 34% of respondents improved profit margins by investing in the digital experience. Software quality is one crucial element of this digital experience, becoming increasingly important across industries such as healthcare, banking and technology as businesses across these sectors accelerate their Digital Transformations.

However, investing in the digital experience is easier said than done in today’s economic climate. IT costs represent significant overheads and budget cuts proliferate. With smaller teams and fewer resources, teams have to do more with less when it comes to software development in order to keep pace with Digital Transformation and customer demand. Speed is a must – but if the customer experience is to be protected, then quality must also be prioritized.

Often test automation is a late addition to the Digital Transformation process, but this causes many risks and challenges along the way. As enterprise organizations develop applications that rely on continuous software updates, automating testing is a crucial element to increasing release speeds and improving application quality, helping the organization run more efficiently to meet its bottom line.

Test automation gives organizations the ability to monitor and assess risk in real time or even prevent issues before they occur. By adopting this real-time or and a pre-emptive approach, major disruptions which can impact everything from productivity to customer experience or revenue, can be staved off.

Thankfully, recent developments in AI, quality engineering and low-code/no-code platforms have transformed DevOps teams’ capabilities by helping them deploy higher quality software and updates more quickly. Adopting an automated, risk-based approach to testing helps businesses improve both the efficiency and security of their software development process.

Moreover, by leveraging these user-friendly, accessible technologies, they are able to bridge the talent gap and bring expertise from other areas of the business into play for a more efficient development process. Thinly stretched teams can do far more with less, helping to achieve the previously impossible concept of quality at speed.

Lee McClendon, Chief Digital OfficerTricentis

Performance testing is particularly important for measuring or improving the customer experience. Response speed is an important aspect for customers but we mustn’t forget usability.

It’s much harder to measure, but just as frustrating if the application doesn’t work. Investing in performance technology means both responsiveness and usability can be addressed. And organizations who regularly deliver great customer experience (CX) know this; 79% of respondents in the IDC study referenced above reported that technology is critical to CX delivery. 

Understanding one’s competitive market means anticipating scenarios and testing them, along with properly tuning the application to the infrastructure it functions within. Many leaders think that moving an app to the cloud means making it more scalable – but that’s not true.

Cloud providers only manage infrastructure; they don’t monitor service level agreements, speed or performance. If an app is poorly written, it will perform slowly regardless of being cloud-based or not. Other factors that impact performance can include app components and databases, third-party API calls, configuration settings, tagging, JavaScript and more.

Regardless of back-end complexity, the user experience comes together in the browser on your desktop or mobile device. This, more than any other reason, is why we emphasize performance engineering.

To ensure a great customer experience, we need to measure performance at the browser level. Using a performance testing tool allows us to achieve a holistic view of the user’s experience in a simulated environment that we define; hitting the application with a high load in an end-to-end testing environment, for example, that replicates the end-user experience.

By replicating user scenarios, we can see how certain behaviors affect the performance of the application. Ultimately, we can optimize the end-user experience based on simulated performance.

We’ve mentioned how the user experience comes together on a desktop or mobile browser, but native mobile applications are another crucial customer touchpoint that should not be neglected when it comes to testing.

Mobile commerce has seen an average year-over-year increase of over 33% since 2016 – even reaching over US$3.56 billion in revenue in 2021. Mobile applications have proliferated and therefore require equal attention from organizations to ensure a quality user experience like that of web and desktop applications.

Today’s mobile apps must be functional and efficient with limited performance issues to succeed. Research shows that 50% of mobile users won’t consider using apps with a three-star rating, and 85% of users will skip apps with two-star ratings.

According to Apple, on average, over 40% of app rejections are for its Guideline 2.1 – Performance: App Completeness which helps make certain that an app is ready for use. Common reasons for rejection are crashes and bugs, broken links, substandard user interface and placeholder content. All these reasons could be mitigated with sufficient mobile app testing. 

Testing a mobile application has similar goals as web app testing – ensuring the application software for quality, functionality and usability.

But that’s where the similarities end.

Mobile testing brings its own set of challenges for achieving these goals. Although these challenges may be unique to mobile testing, they still resonate with the wider goal of testing teams: to deliver the best quality product to the end-user – accelerating releases while eliminating errors and reducing costs.

Rather than treating testing as an afterthought then, it’s vital for organizations to incorporate continuous, automated testing across web, mobile and desktop applications as a standard, business-critical step on their Digital Transformation journey.

Without the requisite automation in place, enterprises risk slower release cycles and an inability to keep pace with customer demand, as well as greater strain on their development teams. But worse still, they risk releasing low quality software applications, which damages brand reputation and sales.

By integrating automated testing from the get-go, businesses will achieve quicker innovation coupled with greater quality for a superior user experience.

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