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8 Methods for User Testing an App Before the Launch

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber

8 entrepreneurs from YEC share the best tools for user testing an app.

It seems like there's an app for everything these days -- and it only takes a few seconds for users to download them, whether they're on their computer or on the go. But behind the scenes, a lot of time goes into developing these apps. Programmers spend countless nights hammering out code, while teams spend even longer debating features, interfaces and user experience.

Once you near the end of that process and have a working prototype, you have an important opportunity on your hands: user testing. User tests provide a key chance to ensure that your app appeals to the groups you're planning to market to, as well as improve the odds of a longer life for your app. After all, if a program is unwieldy to use or too difficult to understand, people will look for other options.

To find out how the experts handle this challenge, we asked members from YEC to share their favorite tools and methods for user testing an app before it launches. Here's what they had to say:

1. Robotium

There are many different platforms for testing apps, and the best ones really depend on the type of app you're developing. As someone in the mobile marketing industry, I use a variety of platforms. For Android apps, one of my favorites is Robotium, which makes it simple to create all kinds of test scenarios. Of course, it's also always crucial to test apps with real people and get feedback on the pros and cons. - Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

2. HockeyApp and TestFairy

Both HockeyApp and TestFairy are great tools for prelaunch testing before your app is available in public app stores. With theses two tools, you can not only distribute betas, but also receive crash reports, analytics and user feedback. Additionally, TestFairy conducts useful user video recordings. - Adelyn Zhou, TOPBOTS

3. Jaco

The most important tool for our business is Jaco. Jaco allows you to capture entire user sessions and re-watch them after the session has been completed. It essentially allows you to see everything your user does. I'm not sure you could ask for a better testing scenario. Jaco allows you to see exactly where users excel and where they get caught up. It's voyeuristic, yes, but also completely effective. - Michael Averto, ChannelApe

4. UserTesting.com

UserTesting.com has gained quite a following for its user testing tool and its ability to deliver very detailed input and feedback on how a specific target group (that you can specify) feels about a particular app. It has worked quite well for us. - John Rampton, Due

5. InVision

InVision lets you set up mockups for your app that are clickable and interactive. It's very easy to use for your team, and even your customers and users who are not technically savvy. Create a mockup, then share it with your users to get their direct feedback on the experience. I prefer to ask them to do a particular task to see if they can figure it out. - Andy Karuza, FenSens

6. Hotjar

Hotjar is, hands down, the best tool for testing a new app before it launches. What a lot of people don't get is that their moms use technology much different than they do. Hotjar records visitor actions, so you can sit back and watch visitors navigate their way around your app on different devices, all while eating popcorn. Discover bugs fast and fix design issues before it's too late. - Robert De Los Santos, Sky High Party Rentals

7. LookTracker

Eye tracking is an effective technology for user testing a new app before it launches. Eye tracking tools such as LookTracker allow you to see where users are looking, gazing and fixating in the app. This will help to identify areas of attraction and distraction, and improve the overall usability of the app. - Nick Chasinov, Teknicks

8. The Library

If you have an app or a consumer product, the best place to test your product is to get it in front of regular people. Hand them the app and let them go through it. Learn from their frustrations, problems, snags and "ah-ha" moments. You'll learn so much by simply going out on the street and letting people try it out. Get out of the office! - Chris Brisson, Salesmsg

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Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber
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Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Gerber is also a serial entrepreneur, regular TV commentator and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job.