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How Different Is Mobile Testing To Web?

Written by  Ritu Saxena | 23 February 2012
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mobile_web_TestingWith the increasing acceptance of smart mobile phones, web browsing over mobile phones has gained prominence and why not, users can browse on the go with the same user experience as on a desktop. Thanks to bigger mobile screens, range of mobile browsers and advancements in mobile telecommunication standards.

The approach to website development, in the perspective of mobile browsing has refined and a subtle categorisation can be made as to - websites that are Mobile compatible and those which are Mobile friendly.


Mobile Compatible vs Mobile Friendly

Mobile compatible websites

Mobile compatibility means that the same website is visible to the smart phone user as to the desktop user. These might not provide an ideal user experience; accessing information might require lot of zooming in and out for the mobile visitors

Mobile friendly websites

A version of the website solely designed for viewing on mobile phones. .I.e. the one that appears on the smart phones is different from the one that is visible to the desktop users. Certain tools are used to identify if a mobile is used for viewing the website or the desktop to switch to the appropriate version of the website. Mobile friendly websites make it easier for the user to access and use the information in the website

Its evident that while you test same website on web and mobile platforms, they will have considerable differences if i have to be a purist and below is a humble attempt to put some points. For ease the differences are colour coded for website testing and for mobile testing.

Functionality Testing

Functional testing for websites involves testing of all the links in web pages, database connection, forms used in the web pages for submitting or getting information from user and Cookie testing.
If the website is designed for the mobile phones based on the smart-client architecture, where in, the data can be cached in a local database within the mobile and users are allowed to use the application even when there is no network, then the application architecture, the data synchronization and data integrity issues should be well tested on real scenarios.

Usability Testing

Usability Testing involves

  • Test for Navigation:
How the user surfs the web pages, uses different controls like buttons, boxes or how user uses the links on the pages to surf different pages needs to be tested.

While testing the navigability of the website on mobile phones additional navigational aids like soft keys, shortcut buttons and various pointing devices like Stylus, finger taps, touch, pinch, flick and page swipes should also be tested.

In the mobile devices there is no hover state. Most of the time, when something is set up to occur on hover (like a dropdown navigation menu), it actually occurs on the first tap when viewed on a mobile device. The second tap on the mobile site does what the first click does on the desktop site. This may cause confusion for mobile users and such scenarios should be carefully tested.

  • Content Checking
Involves checking contents and the look and feel of the website
The capabilities of mobile browsers and platforms vary and a typical mobile browser/platform may not render Flash or execute client-side scripts this may result in a compromised user experience for the mobile users. Flash and JavaScript content in the website should be checked on various combinations of Mobile Platforms, Mobile Browsers and Mobile Devices having varying screen sizes and resolutions.
  • Checking the information for user help

Validating the optional items like help files, search items, site maps etc


Interface Testing

The main interfaces that need to be tested are:

  • Web server and application server interface
  • Application server and Database server interface.
In case of mobile testing basic interfaces are the same as for web testing but the communication protocols vary, so one must consider additional carrier and aggregator interfaces.

Compatibility Testing

Compatibility Testing involves testing

  • Browser compatibility
The web site coding should be cross browser platform compatible and the website needs to be tested on different browsers like Internet explorer, Firefox, Netscape navigator, AOL, Safari, Opera browsers with different versions etc
Additionally the website needs to be tested on the mobile versions of most of the popular browsers, Android Browser, Blackberry Browser, Safari etc.
  • Operating system compatibility
The website must be tested on different operating systems like Windows, UNIX, MAC, Linux, Solaris with different OS flavours etc.
Additionally the website needs to be tested for Mobile OS’s like Android, IOS, Bada, Symbian, Windows Phone 7 etc.
  • Screen compatibility
The mobile screen sizes are much smaller as compared to desktop or a notebook so the website should be able to work well with different mobile screen sizes and screen resolutions.

Performance Testing

Web application should sustain to heavy load. Web performance testing should include:

  • Web Load Testing
  • Web Stress Testing

The performance, stability and scalability of the Website should be determined under different load scenarios.


Additional consideration for performance testing of mobile websites is

  • The website performance should be tested for interruptions like phone calls or SMS receipt.
  • Lesser bandwidth of mobile communication technologies

Important consideration for mobile websites is that even with the latest communication technologies like 3G/4G the connection is slow as compared to hardwired cables. In such slow connection the loading speed, readiness of the website for expected traffic and number of users and the ability to survive a massive spike in user traffic, should be tested

  • Battery life of the Mobile Device

Battery is limited and usage is many – calls, GPS usage, CPU usage etc. All the factors are not in the hands of the web designer but the CPU usage by the website, to preserve the mobile battery can be managed. So while testing the website CPU intensive activities like frequent repaints, JavaScript animations, size and activities of JavaScript etc should be tested for.

  • Memory Constraint

Mobile users are running websites on devices with very limited memory. Even the slowest of desktops have RAM running in GigaBytes and even the highest end mobile phones have RAM running in MegaBytes. A lot of OS background processes and other applications – native apps like Calendar and Media, user initiated apps like Twitter, GPS, Facebook and user installed apps are running in the background. All these apps consume RAM, so the available free memory for the website under test is only about 200KB. These memory constraints can be tested only on real devices with apps like Twitter, Facebook and Mail with notifications running in parallel.

Also high memory usage causes a slow UI, and when the browser is out of memory, it closes or crashes to free up memory. It should be tested that the web applications to don’t slow or crash the mobile browser.

Security Testing

The following are the security considerations while testing the websites

  • Web directories or files should not be accessible directly unless given download option.
  • Passwords, cookies, site certificates, saved data and other application-specific security concerns
  • The behaviour of SSL secured pages on the actual device
  • System behaviour for external modules as payment systems (WebMoney, PayPal) with multiple concurrent connections, etc.
  • Integrity of the website i.e it should be free of malware and viruses
  • A web application demands even more security with respect to its access, along with data protection. It should be tested that the website is immune to SQL Injections, Brute Force Attacks and XSS (cross site scripting).
  • If the web application facilitates remote access points then these must also be tested for security.
For mobile websites also the security constraints are same but, additionally all the security scenarios should be tested on real devices and on real networks.

So, the complexity of testing the websites has increased but, the web developers can breath sigh of relief as a lot of tools come to their aid that help to test their websites for mobile handsets. To list a few - iBBDemo2, mobiReady, Opera Mini Simulator, iPadPeek, Gomez Mobile Website Readiness Test, W3C MobileOK checker,iPhoney etc. In a jiffy they can give information as to what extent the website is ready for the mobile phones and highlights the areas that need improvement.

Ritu Saxena

Ritu Saxena

Ritu is the technical brain behind the website and comes from a strong development background across Web and Mobile platforms. She is our senior editor primarily responsible for Product Reviews and in future will be leading Start-Ups, Mobile and Quality areas.

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