Lisa Frank

At SiteSpect, we’re constantly looking for new ways to test and optimize your website and mobile applications. Mobile continues to impact how businesses and consumers interact. In fact, Business Insider wrote about a recent comScore report that found that time spent in mobile apps by U.S. consumers jumped 52% year-over-year to 621 billion minutes in June 2014. In June we also announced our plans for the iOS SDK. Since then, we have been helping mobile teams optimize their native apps.

To better understand how SiteSpect supports testing iOS apps, we chatted with Iwo Kadziela, Product Manager at SiteSpect, who led the development effort. He talked about some key features that make us different from other available products.

Q: With the release of the SiteSpect Mobile: iOS SDK, we now support A/B testing of native mobile apps. Can you talk a little bit about why SiteSpect decided to build it?

At SiteSpect, we are all about empowering our customers to test everything. As mobile app traffic has grown every year, we recognized that this was a great opportunity for us to translate our experience with web optimization into another area. It only makes sense that we’d want to address native mobile platforms. We started with an SDK that lets you test on iOS phones and tablets.

Q: Who is an ideal user?

Any company that has a mobile app, including media, financial services, and e-commerce. As long as the app is native to iOS, our SDK can help you start testing it.

Q: What are some of the key features of the SDK?

First and most important is the ability to launch new tests without requiring app store updates. You can launch a test with our Visual Editor, which requires no code changes and supports things like image changes, even when images are hosted on the web.

You can also preview any test or change on the actual device or with the Xcode simulator. This is a big deal because some other tools test mobile apps using screenshots, which isn’t ideal because screenshots don’t really represent the actual user experience.

Integrating the SDK into your app is simple; it’s just a one-line addition to your app. Since the SDK uses file cache to preserve the user’s location within your app, users persist in their assigned tests and experiences, even after the app is terminated or updated or the phone is restarted.

Another key feature is the central management of test information. If you use SiteSpect to run tests on your site, you will see both these tests and your iOS tests in the same Control Panel.

Q: Tell me more about the limitations of using screen shots?

Screenshots are great for quick reference, but they don’t give an accurate view on how the changes look and feel for the end user. On the web, our solution allows you to see your website with the changes in a test as they would be shown to real end users. We developed that same ability for native mobile app testing. The Visual Editor allows you to load a Version or Experience from a test and play with the app while interacting with that change.

The preview feature lets you review changes you created using the Code Editor (also available with the SDK), which lets you create more complex tests.

Q: What kinds of tests can users run?

Our Visual Editor focuses on tests that change text and graphics. For example, you may have some promotional text in your app. The Visual Editor lets you edit the content, font type, size, and color, as well as the position of that content.

Additional tests you can run using the Visual Editor include:

  • Repositioning and resizing of graphic elements
  • Image testing by swapping out existing images with others that have been uploaded using the SiteSpect Control Panel
  • Changing the state of a button
  • Applying a single change globally across your app
  • Grouping changes across multiple screens to test a specific experience
  • Creating A/B tests or A/B tests with multiple variations
  • Running multiple tests at the same time

If your changes are more complex, like a totally new redesign, a new screen element, or a new flow, the Code Editor is the tool that you will use.

Q: How did you decide which features to include?

We analyzed the market and talked to our customers. A year ago, we came out with an initial SDK that allowed you to test everything but it required application code changes. Our customers told us that they wanted a way to create tests that did not involve mobile developers.

Our preview capability initially used only Xcode logs and we needed to improve that as well. Our new SDK still allows code editing for complex tests, but we’ve added a Visual Editor to preview changes.

You can create tests quickly without touching the code and you can preview any test on the actual device. We also added other things that our clients needed, like integrating test data with third-party analytics solutions.

At SiteSpect we are really excited that the improved SDK enables our customers to expand their programs and test their iOS apps. It’s also important to keep pace. With the rapid change of technology available, we continue to monitor the evolving landscape and are committed to helping our customers deliver the best user experience.

We are curious about the impact of mobile at your organization. What role does mobile play in your strategy? Do you plan to test apps? We’d love to know! Tell us by leaving a comment below.

Tags: Mobile Product Features