Beta testing focuses on users' insights, making it a vital step in app development. However, beta testing is not easy since there isn't one formula that works for every product. You need to tailor your beta test according to your requirements.
While beta testing is a standard practice among product teams, we find that there is still some misunderstanding surrounding it. This complete guide aims to answer the vital question; what is beta testing?
What is Beta Testing?
Beta testing involves giving a group of target users a nearly finished product to test and evaluate its performance. Since there isn't a set formula for beta testing, it is essential to remember that your test should be relevant to your goals. Here are a few other requirements that you need to ensure your products comply with for the beta test:
- You must ensure that your product is in a feature-complete state. The product must have all the features you planned for the release version.
- You must ensure that your product is stable. Users should not face unexpected crashes.
- Users participating in the beta test must belong to your target audience.
- Users must test in a real-world environment and complete scenarios that everyday users face.
The Difference Between Alpha Testing and Beta Testing
Alpha testing precedes beta testing. The alpha version of the app is less stable and has a limited feature set. Alpha testing is done in-house by a team of designers, QA specialists, and developers. While alpha testing, testers usually mix white-box testing (where the user knows the product's design, internal structure, and implementation) with black-box testing (where the user does not know the product's design, internal structure, and implementation) to discover crashes and bugs. In Alpha testing, you can reach out to the users participating in your test and ask questions about their experience.
Beta test majorly involves black-box testing, and since you primarily run it at the end user's side, you cannot control it. The scenarios in which the users interact with the product are genuine and provide valuable insights. For example, by gathering insights into user behavioral habits (the preferred method of interaction with the product) and emotional responses (how the product's design makes your user feel), you can match your users expected journey with their actual journey. This data can allow you to create an empathy map for your users.
Types Of Beta Testing
There are two types of beta tests:
Open beta testing
Open beta testing does not restrict the number of users involved in the testing process. So, if a user wants to be a beta user and test an app, he can either raise a request to the organization and get the executable file or download the app directly. Google Chrome beta testing app is an example of open beta testing.
Closed beta testing
Closed beta testing is when organizations put restrictions on their apps. The organization sends out specific invitations to users, and only users with these invitations can download the app and use it to run beta tests. For example, Google Tasks Mate, while the application is available for everyone, you cannot use it without an invite from Google.
Technical beta testing
Technical beta testing involves running a beta test with users familiar with technology (mostly a group of users inside the organization). This test aims at uncovering complex bugs and providing the engineering team with high-quality test reports. These participants have a tolerance to minor issues; hence their focus is on identifying hard-to-find bugs. These test participants are willing to complete the test regardless of problems they may face.
Focused beta testing
As the name suggests, teams run a focused beta test when it needs feedback on a specific feature. The team collects feedback by releasing the product into the market.
Marketing beta testing
The main aim of marketing beta testing is to get your product the media's attention. This type of beta test helps you assess your marketing channels.
Also check: A Complete Guide to Web App Testing
Why Is Beta Testing Important?
Compared to releasing an existing app, releasing a new app or a feature is stressful. Perhaps this is why many organizations shy away from running beta testing on their unique features or apps. However, regarding mobile app development, it is vital that you plan beta tests immediately after you complete running acceptance tests.
Developers run beta tests after they are happy with the alpha test results. While people from the organization run multiple tests on the app during an alpha test, it is essential that you run a beta test because of what it brings, mainly, user perspective. Beta tests are done by the user, outside the testing environment, with parameters set by the user. This kind of testing and the data you gather are accurate and valuable. Here are a few more ways beta testing can help you:
Hidden bug Detection
Through beta tests, you can identify hidden bugs that you can miss through manual testing inside labs. Since beta tests involve multiple users, each user will approach using the app in their way. These different approaches will help you locate difficult-to-find bugs and improve app performance.
A study by IBM identified that bugs found in post-production cost 15 times more when compared to bugs found during development. Beta testing is cost-effective because it ensures that the beta test users find bugs post-production.
Diversified Device Matrix
Beta testing enables cross-browser testing through the users of the different devices. These can vary in make and model, run different OS versions, and use different browsers. Testing in these unique environments can help you build a stable app that performs well on multiple devices, OS, and browsers.
The HeadSpin Platform gives you access to various devices you can connect to from anywhere. Our device cloud is perfect for running your tests on your app before you can release it for beta testing.
Geolocation and Localization
Beta testing empowers geolocation testing because you can have users from different locations running your beta tests. These users can help you check if your app complies with the rules and regulations of that particular location. It also empowers localization by ensuring that your app meets the local rules.
Meet Business Goals
You developed your app according to specific business goals. It takes time, money, and effort to ensure it reaches these goals. Beta testing can help you understand if your users work towards these goals while using your app. If they find it hard to achieve these goals, it can help you identify sections that are difficult to understand and take a new approach to them.
Best Practices for Beta Testing
Set Objectives in Advance
It would help if you had a beta testing plan and set clear objectives regarding defining success, what represents failure, or what you need to rethink completely. You need to select these objectives beforehand instead of on the go because you may start to rationalize feedback; this defeats the purpose of a beta test to help you critically evaluate the feedback you receive from it.
Ideal Customer Profiles
Having ideal customer profiles (ICPs) is critical. It would help if you choose your users based on your key customer criteria. Having non-ICPs run your tests is counterproductive as their feedback can lead you to build features that don't meet the needs of your ICPs.
Long-term customer acquisition
Long-term customer acquisition is essential for the continued growth of the organization. Hence, when you expand to increase your audience, one helpful customer acquisition strategy is to beta test with various user groups, especially those outside your defined audience.
Ensure your users reflect a heterogeneous society.
While preparing to run a beta test, the testing team should strive to reflect a heterogeneous society, testing under real-world scenarios. While deciding on users, the testing team must strive to bring in users of different cultures, genders, education levels, ages, mental and physical limitations, and socioeconomic statuses. Taking this approach will help make market-ready products and have a high impact.
Ensure testers understand the goals.
Ensure that the users who will perform the beta test on your app understand your goals for testing your product. To help them with this, make a detailed plan with a set deadline. Once you receive the feedback, carefully study it and remember to note the negative reviews.
Get diverse feedback and get it early.
Typically, with enterprise software, having a set of customer advocates providing guidance based on user requirements is essential. However, it is vital to involve groups outside of the customer advocates with beta tests. Aim to get feedback from a diverse group and get feedback early.
Engage both potential customers and team members.
There will always be teammates excited about the new app and willing to share their feedback; leverage their insights. When it comes to users, target them based on your niche. Give them free access to your app in exchange for their valuable feedback.
Your 'power users' will give you insights.
Power users are knowledgeable beta testers who know your product and the industry. These power users are people you can always turn to for insight. Their knowledge of the industry and your product helps them provide valuable feedback.
Shuffle your beta testers.
Ensure that you don't have the same users run all your beta tests on a new feature. The problem with this is that you may get false positives - this happens when your beta testers may love the new feature, but your overall audience (general public) doesn't. Shuffling your beta testers will ensure feedback stability.
Make the exercise seamless.
Since beta testers give you their time, it is vital that you make their beta testing exercise seamless. You can do this by giving them an easy way to share their feedback. Help them with well-defined instructions so that the quality of their test improves.
Set Your guidelines on common critical use cases.
Beta testers will often run tests according to their understanding. However, the tests may need to be more refined depending on the product and market complexity. It is essential to consider the common critical use cases, set expectations and guidelines, and ensure your testers follow them to bring out the best results in your test.
Incentivizing your beta testers is a great way to get them to stay motivated. Public recognition, cash, and prizes are different things you can offer.
Also check: A Complete Guide to Usability Testing
Advantages and Disadvantages of Beta Testing
- Beta testing considers the needs of the customer first.
- It reduces the risk of product failure. It does this through user validation.
- You can use it to test post-launch infrastructure.
- It helps detect bugs that the software teams overlooked.
- User feedback helps improve product quality, thus improving customer satisfaction.
- With beta testing, you have no control over the testing process. Test management is challenging since users perform beta tests in the real world instead of in a controlled environment.
- It is challenging to find the right users to perform your beta tests. It is even more challenging to maintain their participation.
- You cannot run an in-depth analysis of the software's functionality since it is still in development.
42% of people leave a website due to poor functionality. User demands are high and will only continue to rise. Beta testing apps and websites help you understand these ever-changing needs and create products that meet them.
Q1. How long should your beta test be?
A1. The length of your beta test depends on your objectives. Many tests run for three to five weeks. However, it is essential that you account for delays - which are inevitable. Have a backup plan for such cases.
Q2. How many beta testers should you get?
A2. The number of beta testers depends on the size of your project. If it's a small project with a team size of about 20, you can perform beta tests with 10-15 testers. However, if your project size is enterprise-level, with a team size of over 1000, you'll need over 500 beta testers.
Q3. Is UAT (User Acceptance Testing) similar to beta testing?
A3. Beta testing involves releasing the product to the users and gathering their feedback on its overall usability. While UAT also involves releasing the app to the users, the number of users in this test is lesser, and they have a fixed goal of verifying business requirements.