AUToMAte - Automated Usability Testing of Mobile Applications


Conducting user tests with the aim to improve the usability of mobile applications is a critical competitive factor in this fast-moving market. Users are observed how they use a specific application, in order to calculate usability metrics such as the percentage of successfully executed tasks, the time required to perform certain tasks or the frequency of errors, such as those caused by wrong entries or navigation problems.

In addition to the necessary expertise, primarily technical obstacles such as the heterogeneity of mobile platforms and the high resource requirements (time required, number of subjects, extensive infrastructure, etc.) are reasons why usability testing of mobile applications can be found mostly in large companies. Last but not least, it is the current lack of techniques and methods on mobile platforms which avoids a flexible and efficient way of testing under real-world conditions.

The primary goal of the project is therefore the development of an automated procedure for the effective and efficient implementation of usability tests on mobile platforms. It should support tests with an arbitrarily large number of users, over a long period of time, with the incorporation of the context of use (e.g. activity and viewing direction) and under real-world conditions. The developed procedure will be adapted to the requirements of companies in different sectors. It will be prototypically implemented using state-of-the-art technologies, integrated into the software development process of companies and exemplarily evaluated in pilot projects. Key results of the project will be (i) a set of science-based techniques and methods for the assessment and interpretation of usability metrics for mobile applications and (ii) a practical software prototype for the automated execution of usability tests and its practical application in different companies from the fields of automation systems, application development, and mobile commerce.

The scientific findings of the project will lead to long-term and interdisciplinary research activities at the Faculty of Computer Science, Communication and Media at the Campus Hagenberg and at the Faculty of Management at the Campus Steyrof the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. Moreover, the gained knowledge of the research project will be used in more than 10 courses at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. The practical results are reflected in a software infrastructure for conducting automated usability tests, which will have a recommendation system for the generation of user interface improvements and will be provided to companies in the long run.