Becoming a better Tester!
July 16, 2020
⌚ : 8 min
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Offline Testing of an Online App - What, why and how!?

Offline testing of an online app!? If an app expects to be online, then, of course, it’ll not work offline! Whatever is there to test offline!?

Like I’d written recently, Testing is much more than merely validating Business Acceptance Criteria. A Tester helps see the app from the end user’s point of view and provides feedback to improve the quality and helps polish the user experience.

Having a great experience online and offline is one of the key points of engaging users in-app.

So, the user is on a holiday or as users keep roaming around having different cellular ranges, trying to get something done with the help of the app. And the spinner is spinning endlessly. Maybe it’s a poor network. The app is making the user wait for longer times. What happens next… The user keeps trying or waiting but in vain. Fed up, the user closes the app or uninstalls it, switches to another similar app or the website where they can get their work done with their network connectivity constraints. And this results in 1-star reviews on Stores. Also, when online, the user can check on the website as well and decide why to waste the space for the app! Such poor experiences often result in the permanent loss of a potential customer!

If it happens to be an Enterprise app (from a third party or developed in-house), there may be other frustrations and internal dissatisfaction culture building up which could impact their actual effectiveness and productivity.

Unlike the website, the app should work offline (cached data, maybe) and online both. There is no added value of having an App if you already happen to have a fully functional website and your app does not support offline display, saving of data etc. You might as well make your website mobile-responsive and with offline-mode capabilities and continue with the business.

There are two ways when the user is offline.

  1. When a user does it knowingly e.g. Aeroplane mode or switching internet off, or not allowing on either Mobile data or WiFi.

  2. When it happens to a user unknowingly. For e.g.: forgot to exit Airplane mode, server-side API taking longer to respond, Backend is down, Server-side slowness, the third party API being offline, mobile OS slowness, app slow-ness, RAM not available.

What being ‘Offline’ while using the app means:

Making the User wait is a bad idea! We should not expect a network connection to be always fast and stable.

So, always test your App offline!

Some suggestions on what to check when offline and how to make the app Fail gracefully:

Somethings to examine when the App returns Online :

When planning your testing, assess the business needs, check the risk to the business of making or not making some features available offline, brainstorm with the team on what / how to respond when offline to avoid the user seeking alternatives.

Offline operations and behaviour isn’t just a nice-to-have feature but instead serves as behind-the-scene support for polished and data-safe user experience. It may not give the app 5-star reviews but it will definitely lessen down the 1-star reviews and unhappy/potential customers.

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