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Application testing for social media

According to software testing expert Pete Walen, expectations for application performance in social media vary. Read this response for details about testing standards for applications on social networks.

Are there any testing standards for applications on popular social networks? What types of testing would a new app face before being introduced to users in social media?

That is an interesting question. The answer seems to be “it varies.” What I mean is that some apps, for example some of the free games that can be found on “fun” sites, may get one level of scrutiny. Other games that are intended to drive ad clicks or hits or external hits (like buying extra options for a game), may get looked at a bit more carefully.

Generally, these seem to get a broad spectrum check of “do no harm” to the user experience. If the user has a problem, typically we don’t want them booted off the site completely or to crash the browser. (Based on some of my wife’s experiences with some of these games, that seems to be the maximum of the test effort.)

Those applications that are driving activity for a specific goal, for example an advertising or participation campaign, tend to get closer scrutiny. This makes sense, no? If a “free game” crashes many (not all) computers, people will react with, “Oh well, it’s free.” 

Applications that are intended to be “features” of the site or network tend to get exercised more rigorously. In these instances, if companies are building campaigns around an application, even a fairly-straightforward (to the user) tool like a calendaring app, you don’t want a negative experience with the software to color the end user’s perception of your site, and hence your company. 

If you are writing applications for use on social networks, you want to make sure that they are “up to snuff” and at least as stable as other applications on the same environment. Like many things on the Web, a phrase I heard some time ago seems good advice for these: “Test Early; Test Often; Fail Cheaply.” Or, if you exercise everything possible, at least what you reasonably can (no, we can’t do complete testing for a lot of reasons) any problems that occur should be fairly minor, and you’ll have a good chance to get them corrected before word of the defect goes viral. 

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