|Automation is not a new topic, with most software development QA teams employing its use in one way or another. There is also no lack of tools to choose from. On desktop, there are the ever popular Selenium and the HP backed HP – UFT (formerly QTP). For mobile, Appium and MonkeyTalk are among the more frequently used solutions. All of these tools are fine choices for functional and data driven tests due to their object-oriented nature. However, in my experience, there is one type of automation that is seldom mentioned, visual based testing using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology.|
What is Visual Automation?
|Visual automation relies on the appearance of on-screen elements to perform an action. This is different from traditional automation, which relies on the occurrence of elements in the background resources. To accomplish this, a set of pre-defined or determined visual images and/or transitions are stored. Scripts are written to compare the stored images to the current screen appearance in a set sequence to ensure the application is running through the expected on-screen transitions. Actions can also be scripted in response to on-screen changes. For example, the tools would check for the appearance of a login screen and compare its appearance to the expected result. If the screen matches the expected result, the tool would fill in the user name and password fields by mimicking mouse clicks and keyboard strokes.|
|Visual automation tools not only watch the screen for the appearance of specific elements but they can also act on element transitions, the disappearance of elements, or elapsed time. Actions against these on-screen elements mimic human actions. The tools can attempt to perform functions such as clicking, double-clicking, dragging and dropping, filling forms, etc. The range of action is at the full extent of what humans can do. There are several tools currently available to perform visual automation, including Squish and my favorite, Sikuli.|
Why Visual Automation?
|Visual automation acts much closer to human behavior than object-oriented automation tools. The actions and reactions are only based on visual stimuli to which humans can react. This allows testing to be conducted in a way that is much closer to the human experience than any other type of automation. Consider the following examples:|
|In the case above, a real human end user would have issues with the page but automated tools would have no trouble finding the login button as long as only the front-end graphic is missing. |
The Case Against Visual Automation Tools
Opening New Doors
|Here’s a hard truth that most app developers don’t want to hear: the majority of the millions of apps available for download in app stores today are never going to find success. The fact is, the app market is overloaded with apps that don’t provide enough value to the end user and they are outperformed by their competitors. To avoid ending up in the pile of apps that never did and never will succeed, it’s paramount that you have a concrete mobile strategy in place before launching your app. Whether your app is consumer or employee facing, we’ve come up with some helpful tips for building a winning mobile strategy that’s sure to help your app succeed.|
1. Determine Your Goals
|As with all strategies in business, the first step in building an app mobile strategy is to define your goals and objectives. Before you start planning for app development, come up with a wish list for what you want your app to have and why – if you don’t have the “why” piece, you won’t be creating an app that makes sense for your enterprise. |
Here are some questions to get you started:
a. Why are you building an app?
b. Who is your app for (customers or employees)?
c. Is your app going to improve the lives of others and how will it do that (for instance, will it enhance your employees’ productivity or entertain consumers and if so, how)?
|Be sure to look for an app development company that will help you define your goals and build a sustainable mobile strategy. For instance, the first step in Atimi’s process is to work closely with you to create an app blueprint that’s tailored to your needs. We know the right questions to ask to get our clients thinking through the fine details that separate the outstanding apps from the merely good apps. |
2. Do Your Homework
|Another key element in any successful mobile strategy is research. In order to understand what your users are looking for in an app and demonstrate why they should choose your app over others, you must have done some research on your competitors (if consumer facing) and users. Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll be in a better position to build an app that your users will enjoy.|
3. Define Your Monetization Plans
|There are several ways in which you can monetize your consumer app. Let’s run through three of the most popular options:|
A. In-App Ads (Free With Advertising)
As App Developer Magazine stated in a recent article, “Ads can prove to be a successful option if you collect data about your customers because you have the opportunity to show them highly-targeted ads”. Targeting is what makes in-app ads so appealing to advertisers, so if you opt to go this route, be sure to have a plan for how you’ll track your users’ data. For instance, your app could utilize a device’s GPS so that relevant ads can be shown to users based on their location. Alternatively, your app signup form might include demographic and psychographic information such as gender, age, geographic region, and interests. If you can collect meaningful user data, you’ll attract marketers with advertising dollars to spend. As a testament to this type of advertising, a recent study found that in-app advertising grew by 66% in the US last year to $21 billion and is expected to increase to $35 billion in the coming years. This explosive growth in ad spend is promising for app developers everywhere.
One thing to be mindful of when venturing into in-app ad monetization is that you must always respect your users’ privacy and put them first. As premium ad platform, Jun Group, was quoted saying in a recent Appticle blog post, “The best practice continues to be to ask audiences before gathering, storing and using their mobile data. Let consumers opt-in to a better ad experience, but if they do not want to be tracked or have their data used, publishers and advertiser should respect that.” We couldn’t agree more.
B. Paid App (Free With Advertising)
Paid apps are exactly what you might have thought they were: apps that users must buy in order to download and use. Keep in mind that if you’re going to charge for your app, you must ensure that your app is better than any other free app that’s similar to yours. This is why we research our target users and competitors – to find our competitive edge! There are millions of apps available for download, so you must convey that your app is worth the purchase and prove it once users have downloaded it (this will increase app downloads, engagement, and drive positive app store reviews).
This popular monetization model offers users a free app download along with some limited free features. To get access to additional features and content, users are required to make an in-app purchase/upgrade. This model is often used for gaming and media apps that hook users with great free features and content and then persuades them to make an upgrade to access deeper or exclusive content and features through a purchase. Apple notes, “While freemium apps are very popular, this model isn’t appropriate for every app. Successful freemium apps operate as services that are continuously supported, often requiring sustained content development to retain users.” So, if you’re planning on going this route, understand that your team will need to have the capacity to frequently produce and publish new content in order to persuade users to buy an upgrade and keep them coming back for more.
D. In-App Purchases
This is a great way to add a new revenue stream to your business. Specifically, if you already sell products and services on your website or in a physical location, creating an app that makes it even more convenient for your customers to shop with you might be a viable option to consider.
Other popular app monetization methods include app sponsorships, subscriptions, along with strategic partnerships and affiliations (we’ll cover these in a future article).
4. Define What Success Looks Like
|Once you’ve outlined your objectives and monetization plan, you should define how you’ll track and measure your app’s success. One of the many wonderful aspects of owning an app is that you have the opportunity to gather meaningful user insights and analytics. To attain such data, ensure that your app developer has a plan to track user behaviour. Some key performance indicators you may find useful (depending on your goals) include app engagement (such as time spent in-app), average daily active users (DAU) and average monthly active users (MAU), purchases, installs, subscriptions, conversion rate, and more. You should also monitor user reviews in App Stores – doing so can help you stay in-tune with your user base and discover how to improve your app over time.|
5. Consider Future Releases
|So, you’ve done your research and defined your goals and monetization plan, now it’s time to consider what the future of your app looks like. Releasing version 1.0 of your app is nothing short of exciting, but even more compelling is the future plans you have. Like most things in business, apps need to change over time to evolve and improve with shifting consumer (or employee) trends, technology and competitors. To build an app that keeps users engaged, you should create an app roadmap that encompasses your future releases. Business Insider notes that more frequent updates are typically associated with higher app user ratings. This can be attributed to several factors, including app improvements such as added features and bug fixes. Further, since users receive push notifications about each app update, apps that are updated more often will benefit from increased top-of-mind awareness.|
6. Put User Experience First
|As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, 6 Reasons Your Enterprise Mobile App Needs Quality Assurance Testing, if you want consumers or employees to actually use your app, it’s key to make user experience a top priority. Your brand image – both in the eyes of your employees and consumers—is at stake every time you build a new app or release an update, so be sure that you’ve hired the right mobile app development partner. This partner or agency should be experienced at building best-in-breed apps across platforms and devices that provide a seamless user experience (UX) and interface (UI). You can learn more about choosing the right mobile app development partner in this Atimi blog post.|
|Now that you have a feel for what your app mobile strategy might look like, get in touch with us – we’d be happy to help you solidify your mobile strategy and build an app that your users will love. |
Feel free to give us a call. We’re always happy to chat.
|With the New Year in full swing, it’s a good time to reflect on last year’s advancements in mobile technology and look at what’s in store for app development in 2017. Here’s our list of the top app dev trends to watch this year.|
|As more organizations instate “bring your own device” or “BYOD” policies, you can bet that enterprise app hacks will occur more frequently. This can be attributed to employees using the same device for both personal and business use, which tends to pose vast security risks to organizations and their data. As one Security Innovation Europe article states, “employees are putting their organisation’s data at risk if they adopt poor security practices in their own time.” For instance, one of the most prevalent security threats occurs when employees access unsecure Wi-Fi connections in places such as airports and shopping malls. By using corporate devices and apps while connected to these unsecure servers, employees may unwittingly share their login credentials with strangers. Additionally, they could be sharing the documents they’re working on along with content their viewing on websites and more – all of which may provide hackers access to highly confidential corporate information.|
|While cybercrime is on the rise, you can protect yourself and your company data by ensuring that the enterprise app development partner you choose offers stringent risk management policies and procedures, as well as built-in app security features.|
|If you aren’t sure where to start when building an app, check out our article on outsourcing mobile app development.|
2. The Internet of Things
|With the continued explosive growth of the Internet of Things or IoT (devices that connect to the internet such as smart watches and smart home items like Nest), apps that can connect to IoT devices are sure to be popular in 2017.|
|If you’re thinking about creating an enterprise mobile app, you may want to consider building one that can connect to IoT devices, for instance, employee activity trackers or smart watches. Connecting your enterprise app to IoT devices that employees and vendors use is a great way to boost app adoption and engagement.|
|Not only will we see more mobile apps connecting to IoT this year, it’s a trend that will continue growing for the foreseeable future. One Gartner study recently estimated that the number of connected things in use in 2016 was 6.4 billion – and that number will reach 20.8 billion by 2020.|
3. Augmented Reality
4. Virtual Reality
|Virtual reality (VR) headsets, like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR – both of which launched last year – have kick-started a new era of mobile app innovation. From healthcare to national defense, retail and beyond, VR is continuing to grow in popularity and will certainly be a space where more enterprise mobile apps can and will thrive. The booming consumer interest in the immersive experience that VR provides along with the fast-growing number of VR headsets available means that there’s plenty of opportunities for VR apps to flourish.|
|From Google’s self-driving cars to Facebook’s chatbots, automation is a growing trend that experts suggest is here to stay. As Wealth Daily recently explained, “while automated technology has already begun to creep into our daily lives, what we see today is nothing compared to what the future holds…Investors will specifically want to look for the companies taking advantage of this technology, the companies providing it, and the supply chains that support it all.” This is because automation saves companies and individuals time and money.|
|This year and in the years after, you can expect to see enterprises creating more intelligent chatbots that help with onboarding employees – reducing the financial and time costs associated with hiring and training. Further, the World Economic Forum predicts that “automation of checkout processes and smart inventory management through sensors and other applications of the Internet of Things” will lead to a reduced demand for traditional sales-related roles. Suffice to say that automation is here to stay – it isn’t just a trend. This disruptive technology is and will continue to change the way we work, live, and interact with companies and brands. It’s a space that we at Atimi see as having endless opportunities for enterprise apps.|
|Now that you know the top five enterprise mobile app trends to watch this year, you’re in a better position to build an enterprise app that’s both relevant and engaging.|
|Get in touch with us to find out how Atimi Software can help you build a custom, innovative, enterprise app that offers a superior user experience and stands the test of time.|