An organization’s product development team is responsible for developing products. When it comes to technology products like software, there is a need for some series of testing. Beta testing is one of them and is usually carried out by prospective product users ahead of the product's commercial release.
Beta testing helps validate the product for usability, functionality, and many more. In this post, we will take an in-depth look into Beta testing.
Beta testing is the term used to describe the second phase of testing software after development by the target audience. It is a trial phase in software development. The software is made available to the intended customer base to try out and provide feedback. This feedback would then be used to effect changes in the application as highlighted by the users. Beta tests are the second phase of testing, and it is the final testing phase before the product a launched.
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At the core of beta testing sits the need for users to try out a product to discover opportunities to improve the overall quality of the product. Usability issues and bugs need fixing. Beta testing helps you identify these issues.
It is an opportunity to test the product in a natural production environment and provide feedback. Other objectives are;
1. Beta testing allows developers to determine the product's performance from the end-users. It is a product review focusing on what went well and what went wrong. Beta testing gives insight into the end user's experience with the product.
2. Beta testing allows the developer to get data about the real-world compatibility of the product with various browsers, operating systems, devices, and so on. Testing involves the use of many devices by testers. This further puts the compatibility of your product to the test.
3. Beta testing helps the product management team evaluate the impact of an issue in the real world.
4. Beta testing lets you identify platform-specific issues. Since platforms behave differently and beta testing allows you to familiarize yourself with different platforms and experience your product's behavior.
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Beta testing comes in different shapes and sizes. Let's examine a few of them below
This form of beta testing follows a pattern of distributing the product to the target audience. The target audience, in turn, conducts the test, and essential data on all aspects of the development is reported to the developer for improvement.
This method supports releasing a product to the general public through existing online channels to get data from the users. It also allows users to promote the product to a broader audience by sharing it with their network.
Sometimes, the product is released to a closed group comprising of internal beta testers like employees for their feedback and insight.
There are times the product is released to the public to get feedback on particular features of the product. These aspects are usually extremely; important to the success of the product.
Marketing beta testing focuses on gaining media attention for the product. Its goal is to evaluate marketing channels. Beyond marketing channels, marketing beta testing may be used to test customers' perceptions of the features of a product.
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The Apple brand sometimes allows a preview of IOS features as part of its Beta program. They enable customers to use it and provide feedback, and sometimes these applications do not make it to the release phase because of discoveries during the Beta testing phase.
Another good example is Gmail by Google, which was released in 2004 and limited to a few people. Products from Google usually stay in the Beta phase for a long while, sometimes for years, before they are either released or discarded. The Gmail Beta testing phase lasted 5 years before its official release to the general public in 2009.
As we discuss beta testing, we must consider Alpha testing. Both of them are forms of acceptance testing in product management.
Alpha Testing: Early in the development journey of a product, a test is carried out to validate whether or not a product will perform to expectation. This kind of testing is called Alpha testing.
Alpha testing signifies a final in-house acceptance testing for the product being developed.
The Quality Assurance team involved in the product development process carries out Alpha testing before the product is approved to be released for Beta testing.
Usually, alpha testing is carried out by an in-house team but could involve real users, especially if a third party owns the product undergoing development. Alpha testing is to make sure the product is devoid of bugs.
Beta Testing: Beta testing, on the other hand, is a milestone that signals that the product is really for some real-world testing. The users are allowed to use the product whichever way they want, but the focus is on getting meaningful feedback about the product's performance.
Gamma testing is the final testing a product must pass through before it is released into the market. Gamma testing comes after beta, and it involves testing for product performance, checking for security, and carrying out usability checks.
Creating a beta testing plan is imperative for successful testing. The plan should boast of a testing strategy at its core. We can look at a planning guideline for beta testing. A standard beta testing plan should follow the following steps:
One of the critical success factors to consider when setting up a beta testing plan is to set goals. This should answer questions about what you intend to achieve with the testing. Once this is clear, you can determine the user flow, type of testing, and scope of the testing.
To achieve successful beta testing, attracting and recruiting the right sample population of testers, the right mix of skills and users is vital. Sometimes, it might be challenging to determine the correct size that gives statistical significance to your test. The concept of triple constraint comes in handy. We all know that cost is a product of scope and time.
Therefore, we can determine the number of testers by exploiting the fact that the relationship between cost, scope, and time is predictable. For instance, using this triangle of cost, scope, and time, we can determine the number of users needed. And the suitable duration of the test.
In your plan, you'll need to determine the test period as inadequate, and a long period will impact the testing and budget. You may also want to decide how many days you want to keep the beta product available before the start of testing.
The documentation should have instructions on how to use the product. It should be error-free and easily accessible to test participants.
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Your product testing will be seamless if you share, ahead of the testing, information about some known issues with your product. This will help manage the tester's expectations and disposition toward the development.
When the beta testing results are out, your stakeholders, design team, development team, QA, and other relevant stakeholders should have access to them.
Beyond the regular feedback information from test participants, there is a need for more. Test participants should have a means of sharing their thoughts on specific features in the product with the product team.
There are different tools to use for beta testing. Part of your plan is to determine which device or set of tools best suit your specifications. All you need is a tool that will make the job easier by simplifying the process.
Beta testing involves different stakeholders. Among them are product management, quality assurance, and user experience teams. These stakeholders work together towards a seamless outcome.
1. Testing A Non-Viable Product: Releasing a product made in a rush without following due process would usually result in a poorly finished product. This would usually have serious issues like crashing when the application is being used or just outright freezing of the app or your device each time the application is launched. The result is that the users would not complete the beta test.
2. The Quality Of The Testers: For beta testing to succeed, the quality of the tester is a critical component. The testers must be people who have a genuine need for the product. Not using real customers genuinely interested in the development would lead to a disinterest halfway through, and the beta test would fail.
3. Inability To Manage/Address Feedback Appropriately: After gathering information, the inability to manage this information properly by a lack of process or incapable hands would cause a flop in the beta test.
4. Lack Of Adequate Planning: Planning includes identifying the right testers, the tools for gathering feedback, the right amount of incentives, motivation, and how it would be delivered. These are some of the factors planning would address.
Poor planning and unrealistic timelines for execution and completion can hamper the whole process.
1. Join a beta program: You can sign up to be a beta tester by checking out verified sites and credible organizations like Google, Microsoft, and Apple for their beta tester program.
2. Acquire the skills needed: The requirements for beta testing vary depending on the niche. Generally, having a high school education is the minimum education requirement.
3. Owning a smart device with certain specifications is also a criterion for being a beta tester. For more technical beta testing, intending testers may be required to complete assessments testing their cognitive abilities.
Launching an application or software without beta testing is a recipe for failure. This could erode any brand credibility your organization might have built over the years.No matter how much effort and due process resources went into your production, releasing to the public without completing this phase could be a costly assumption. Beta testing is a way to understand your product and create a level of connection with its target users.
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