According to an article by Sean Gallagher of ars technica, Orca, the Romney campaign’s “killer” app had one goal – “to give the Romney campaign its own analytics on what was happening at polling places and to help the campaign direct get-out-the-vote efforts in the key battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Colorado.” Yet, they missed one very critical step in the process – they skipped beta and paid the price.
A key aspect of the beta process is testing out the app in real world environments, specifically in the field. Especially for such a massive operation like the presidential election, relying on unreliable networks like carriers, etc. can be career-ending. Instead of it working flawlessly, “volunteers couldn’t get the system to work from the field in many states—in some cases because they had been given the wrong login information. The system crashed repeatedly. At one point, the network connection to the Romney campaign’s headquarters went down because Internet provider Comcast reportedly thought the traffic was caused by a denial of service attack.”
According to John Ekdahl Jr (of the Romney campaign) and a Politico Report,
“The app and its underlying infrastructure never underwent beta testing, either by the mobile workers in the field or by the officials in charge of the system. As a result, the system suffered crashes throughout Election Day.
And, the app was actually a Web app, which the campaign didn’t clearly explain to workers who said they couldn’t find it in the Apple App Store or on Google Play. The URL for the Web app also used an https connection, so anyone who mistakenly entered the http URL saw a blank page and assumed something was wrong.”
It just goes to show an app is only as good as how well it’s tested… it may look pretty, but it may not work…