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Mobile UX Issues Caused by Device Fragmentation

Posted by on August 28th, 2015

Whether creating a new app, or simply a new version, user experience (UX) is immensely important. It is also increasingly difficult to deliver, particularly due to the challenges of device and OS fragmentation (primarily device). With over 24000 distinct Android devices out there, it is harder and harder to ensure that your app will work with the widest possible array of devices. Even across the much smaller range of iOS devices, display issues can present themselves.

We looked at some of the test runs on our platform, specifically on mobile ux issues to see what kinds were caused by device fragmentation. At testmunk we provide screenshots for each executed test step, which makes it easy to detect such issues. Here is a compilation of some of the issues we have seen. We are curious to hear if you have detected similar issues, or maybe completely new ones. Share with us in the comments below or on twitter some of the user experience problems you’ve run across while testing or, even better, using a released app.

Typical Mobile UX Issues

1) Functionality issues combined with visual elements

As you can see in the below example from our work with Secret, the two Samsung devices displayed variations of the same issue – one displayed the flag of the selected country, but would not open, and the second did not display the flag, nor did it open to select a country.

mobile ux issues 1

Location Selector Malfunction

2) Sizing issues on different displays

Here, the elements within the screen did not scale to the size of the screen as they should have– the button scaled larger to accommodate tablet sizing, but the text, both within the button and outside of it, did not. The icon did not scale as it should, either.

mobile ux issues 2

Sizing Issues based on Display Size

3) Missing visual elements (and associated functionality)

Some elements are obvious to the developer or designer upon visual presentation, but not to a tester unfamiliar with the app. Would a tester know that the sharing icon was missing looking through the app? The developer/designer, alerted to an issue on the screen, would catch it nearly immediately.

mobile ux issues 3

Missing Share Feature

4) Placement issues

Sometimes a visual element is simply out of place. This is very difficult to catch if it is only present on specific devices. For example, in the below screenshot, you see the signup button is not centered as it should be. Surprisingly, this only happened on a device with a retina screen.

mobile ux issues 4

Sign Up not Centered on an iPad with retina display

5) Obstructed functionality

The capability to see screenshots of all test steps is crucial since a test can complete successfully, despite an obvious visual flaw specific to a given device (here at testmunk we by default have this functionality enabled). As you can see below, the test step completed successfully – the keyboard opened and the test case executor was able to type the required credentials. However, by reviewing the screenshot, it is obvious that a given user would have a heck of a time trying to click that ‘Sign Up’ button on the iPhone 4S. You can argue that this isn’t an issue, since experienced app users know that they can just hit “Go” on the iOS keyboard (or “Next” on the Android keyboard) rather than tapping ‘Sign Up’. But not all users are experienced, and in practice it is the least experienced users who will complain the most. It is important to have such user experience issues resolved, for the sake of your app ratings.

mobile ux issues 5-1

Keyboard and Login issues #1

In the below two examples we see again an issue with the keyboard obstructing login or registration functionality.

mobile ux issues 5-2

Keyboard and Login issues #2

mobile ux issues 5-3

Keyboard and Login issues #3

6) Version Incompatibility issues

Device fragmentation isn’t always the issue. Sometimes OS fragmentation can play a role. In the below example, Lollipop users (Android OS 5.0) all saw the same display issues, (capital letters, buttons stretched to edge of screen, etc) as well as the compatibility message that is partially cut off.

mobile ux issues 6

Display Issues on Lollipop

Do you struggle with similar user experience issues caused by device and OS fragmentation? We would be happy to assist you in fixing them.

Schedule a demo today.

martin_poschenrieder About the author:
Martin Poschenrieder has been working in the mobile industry for most of the past decade. He began his career as an intern for one of the few German handset manufacturers, years before Android and iPhone were launched. After involvement with several app projects, he soon realized that one of the biggest pain-points in development was mobile app testing. In order to ease this pain, he started Testmunk. Testmunk is based in Silicon Valley, and provides automated app testing over the cloud.
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Testmunk automates mobile app testing


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