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Building mobile web sites: QA

QA on mobile is a monumental headache. Think it was a pain to support IE6 and constantly have to make Microsoft-specific hacks in your CSS & HTML? Welcome to some real fragmentation.

I previously covered our methods and processes for device detection. Having done this we were left with very specific profiles and about 14,000 handsets which fitted these. Our first inclination was to test natively where we had the handsets and then emulate – this did not work.

My least favourite emulators are Blackberry (I couldn’t even get BREW to work in my environment although allegedly one of our developers achieved this feat). Blackberry emulators are massive. They suck up your CPU and manage to crash your machine on a regular basis but that’s not the worst bit. Installing all of the add ons, extensions, plug ins and other nefarious rubbish takes an age. Android was reasonably easy while Apple was very easy but you have to pay for the SDK and run it on a MAC box which is pricey if you are not that way inclined.

Once you have installed your emulator and have successfully pulled up your target test site you find your bugs, make your fixes and assume that life is good. Then you test it on a a real handset of the emulation and realise that you have just wasted a heap of time as the two do notĀ resembleĀ each other in any way.

So what do we do?

- We have at least two handset for each of our test profiles.

- We test in Chrome first. Chrome best matches Android mobile browser and iPhone’s native browser.

- We emulate sparingly – good use cases include device screen size queries in Android.

- Every opportunity we get we load our sites in other people’s handsets.

- We review historical activity and look for sessions with strange looking activity and try to spot handset patterns. This allowed us to spot a series of Android bugs.

- We update software versions on some phones but not all – running several versions of iOS and Android is safer.

- We try to design to minimise layout issues.

This entry was posted on Friday, December 10th, 2010 at 16:59 and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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