Many businesses invest in apps but oftentimes, they hit the audience straight away without going through rigorous beta testing. That’s a big mistake that can, luckily, be avoided with proper planning.
Beta testing is an important part of the app launch process. After developers test their app (that’s a rigorous testing process called alpha testing), they push it forward to real users to test it. At this point, they have the opportunity to get big flaws resolved before making the app available for the wider audience.
What will the beta testers do? They consistently use the app over a specific period of time. They report back any bugs or issues, and they give their feedback about the app. This helps app publishers decide whether or not their app is ready for their real audience. If it’s not, they’ll have time to keep improving before it hits the app stores.
So how do you get beta testing right? Here are 10 essential steps you should follow.
1. Decide how many testers you need
How many people will you engage during the beta testing period? Keep in mind that not all testers will give you valuable feedback. Some of them won’t detect bugs, and some of them will tell you they liked the app even though they faced problems with it. It’s just easier to write “everything is okay” than to provide detailed feedback.
That being said, you can’t have only 10 testers. However, you shouldn’t get too many testers, either. If, for example, you get 1,000 testers for an app, collecting feedback will be difficult to process.
In general, it’s advised to get 100-300 beta testers to make sure your app works well before you launch it. This gives you enough feedback to work with, but you won’t get overwhelmed by it.
2. Decide what type of testers you need
Depending on your goals, you must decide what type of person to select as a beta tester based on their background and experience. Developing a beta tester persona will help you choose the right users for this stage of development.
There are two types of beta testers: technical (these detect bugs and give you constructive feedback) and marketing (they are usually influencers, who increase the awareness before your app gets launched). In this article, we focused on technical beta testers.
3. Develop a beta tester persona
During the planning part of the app development process, you probably defined your user persona. You developed the entire concept around that final user, and probably had several questions on your mind:
- What problems do they have?
- What solutions do they need?
- What solutions can I provide?
- What would make this person use an app on a daily basis?
- What features are they looking for?
You’ll need that user persona when developing the marketing campaign, too. You also need a persona when looking for beta testers. At this point, you have additional requirements:
- What goals do you have for the beta-testing phase?
- Do you want to get feature request? Discover bugs? Develop an audience of early users? Bring awareness to the app?
Based on your needs, answer this question: what skills do you want this person to have? From there, it’s easier to build the persona you’re looking for.
4. Give testing a timeframe
How long will you beta test take? If you don’t plan a timeframe for your test period, it can go on for ages.
TacoBot, for example, was announced back in 2016, but it still hasn’t reached its audience. You don’t want to extend the beta testing page to an indefinite period of time.
This doesn’t mean that you should rush through the beta test. It must be thorough. You should give the beta testers enough time to try all features of the app and detect all its issues.
How long should the beta test last? According to Centercode, the answer to that question will depend on few factors: your goals, resources, the tester limitations, and the number of test phases you opt for.
5. Find your beta testers
So where do you find the people who will test your app and provide valuable feedback? There are few places you can try:
Those were few specialized platforms that can connect you with beta testers. You can also search for testers via Twitter, Reddit, and Quora. Use an appropriate hashtag, such as #testmyapp on Twitter, and people will start contacting you. You can share the news on specific subreddits, such as /r/TestMyApp. As for Quora, you’ll find experienced beta testers and influencers answering questions on this topic. Contact them!
6. Deliver the app to your beta testers
You got to the point of actual distribution? That’s great! If this is your first time dealing with beta testing, you must be wondering: how will you do that?
There are app distributing platforms you can choose from. These are only some of them:
7. Keep your testers engaged
So you developed the beta tester persona, you found your beta testers, and you distributed the app with instructions on what you expect. Now what? You have to make sure this process will deliver the results you need. You want their input, so you have to motivate them to use your app and share feedback.
You can do that by providing various incentives. For example, you can give them codes so they can get premium features for free. You won’t lose a lot of money, but you’ll encourage the testers to spend more time with your app.
8. Take their opinions into consideration
When your beta testers inform you about bugs, you’ll clearly do everything to fix them. But what happens when they give you tips for improvement? You worked really hard for some of the features, but it turns out that most beta testers don’t like them.
You found your community. The least you can do is trust these people. Whatever comments or questions they provide, take them into consideration as you’re improving your app before its release.
9. Be selective
Does the above point mean you should make every single change that your beta testers suggest? Absolutely not. You should listen to them and consider them, but you may proceed only with those suggestions that make sense. When you implement those changes, test them, too!
10. Keep the connections
Once you go through a successful beta testing stage, you’ll realize how important it is for the overall success of your app. When you make connections with passionate beta testers, who enjoy trying out new apps, maintain them. Contact them whenever you develop a new app that needs testing.
Community feedback is essential for the success of your app. You must plan well and go through the beta testing stage with utmost attentiveness. Go for it!