How The Red Cross Serves More People Through Mobile Apps

As one of the best known and top rated charitable organizations in the world, the American Red Cross is committed to helping those in need whenever disaster strikes. In the United States alone, the Red Cross responds to approximately 70,000 disasters each year. From home fires to hurricanes to earthquakes, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, health and mental health services to help families and communities get back on their feet.

Responding to disasters is a large portion of what the Red Cross provides, but it’s one of many lifesaving services the organization offers. Blood donation drives, first aid training and certification, as well as emergency readiness programs all seek to prepare individuals before a disaster strikes. With a focus on awareness and preparedness, the Red Cross looks to continually broaden the availability of these services through digital channels.

The ubiquitous nature of mobile devices worldwide means the Red Cross can impact even more people through mobile applications. Severe weather and disaster alerts, first aid information, education and more are now offered through the Red Cross website and 12 mobile apps. Users rely on these applications in situations that could literally save lives whether being alerted to and preparing for a tornado or quickly learning how to help someone choking, bleeding, or experiencing a heart attack.

For the Red Cross, delivering a functional and reliable experience when people need vital information is paramount no matter when, where or how a user accesses its apps. On top of that, the massive influx of people seeking assistance during and after disasters requires that the apps be able to hold up under large amounts of user load.

With location-based early warnings for pending disasters like tornadoes or forest fires, testing the efficacy of these apps in a time of need was difficult without putting them into the hands of real people. Additionally, the need for a functional experience isn’t limited to emergencies; it also extends to normal day-to-day activities such as signing up for and attending an in-person or online first aid class.

“Whether they are receiving a warning about a pending disaster or registering for training, people who use our mobile apps and website expect a glitch-free experience that works as they want and need it to,” said Dominick Tolli, vice president, product management and development at the Red Cross. For the Red Cross, the performance of its swim companion and blood donation apps are just as important as its hurricane and earthquake apps.

Expanding The Scope of Digital Testing

The Red Cross realized that it needed a testing approach that could provide a wide range of device coverage, international presence, and load testing capabilities to address its challenges. Applause provides multiple types of testing for the Red Cross, including functional testing of mobile apps and customized usability testing for course registration, general usability and check-out processes for the ‘Take a Class’ section of the Red Cross website.

The organization’s signature First Aid App has undergone thorough testing (both functional and usability) to make sure that it is easy to understand, even if a person has not had Red Cross training.

“Working with Applause is one important way that we are innovating to make sure that the Red Cross continues to be the standard-bearer for serving people in need and those who want to help them,” said Tolli.

The Red Cross conducts ongoing testing with testers in nearly 40 different countries using hundreds of different devices.

Digital experience testing gives the Red Cross peace of mind that its users are taken care of, no matter when or how they are looking to access its digital properties. Through its First Aid and emergency preparedness apps, the Red Cross is able to reach millions of people who otherwise may not be prepared to deal with emergencies or able to take advantage of their services.

The award-winning apps have been used to save lives by alerting people that they need to take cover in a safe place due to severe weather conditions. The expert advice in the First Aid App has been used by people who have been in situations where someone was bleeding, choking, having a heart attack or experiencing a seizure.

Lead image: “NOLA Red Cross” by Flickr user Elaine Vigneault, Creative Commons.

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Laura Gray
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