The Right Way to Beta Testing Your Cloud-based Application
In a world where users have instant access to millions of apps, you can’t afford to release one that’s plagued with bugs or has a confusing user interface.
Whether you’re building an app for internal use or external customers, it’s important to provide users with a product that’s easy to use and ready to add value to their lives from day 1.
The key to ensuring a successful app release is thorough beta testing. Keep reading to find out more about beta testing and how you can use it to make sure your app is ready for primetime.
What Is Beta Testing?
Beta testing measures how your app performs in real-world situations and how it’s perceived by actual users. Think of it as a soft launch to get valuable feedback from a select group of early adopters before the official release.
In the app development process, beta testing comes after alpha testing. Alpha testing involves a methodical examination of the app by the development team to catch major bugs and malfunctions, but it doesn’t cover everything.
To adequately assess the real-world performance of your app, you need beta testing.
Beta testing allows you to see what happens when real users interact with your app regularly. You collect feedback from your testers throughout the process to gain valuable insight about lingering bugs and whether or not your app is a fit for your intended users.
You’ll get a good idea of how your app functions and how users feel about the design, user interface, and ease of use. Based on your testers’ input, you can correct major flaws, get ideas for new features, and gauge whether or not your app is ready to move forward.
Beta testing can confirm your ideas and the direction you’re planning to go or lead you to make major course corrections. Either way, it’s a vital step in the app development process and one you definitely don’t want to skip or take lightly.
How to Beta Test Your Cloud-based Application
We’ve discussed the purpose of beta testing and why it’s so important for your app. Now let’s cover the steps you should follow to ensure you get a good test with actionable feedback.
Planning and Goal Setting
First things first — you need a plan and specific goals for your beta test. Different beta tests have different goals, and you need to be clear about what you want to learn from your test.
You can choose to do a technical beta test focused on finding bugs, evaluating feature performance, and other technical facets of your app. Another option is to run a marketing beta test to get feedback on the design, user interface, and overall user perception. You can also use beta testing as a marketing tool to win over influencers and build a group of brand ambassadors.
While you’re in the planning phase, make sure to develop a timeline for your beta test. Since your goal is to test how the app performs while being used consistently by real people, you’ll need to allot weeks, sometimes months, for the test. Depending on your app and your goals, plan to spend anywhere from 3 - 10 weeks setting up, conducting, and concluding your beta test.
Beta Tester Recruiting
Once you’ve set goals for your test, the next step is to find testers. Estimates vary, but recruiting 100 - 300 testers will ensure you get enough quality feedback to make the test worthwhile. If that seems like a lot, consider the fact that you may only get consistent responses from about 20% of your testers.
We’ll cover more about how to find beta testers later in this article, but for now, it’s important to note that you should have a persona in mind for your ideal beta tester.
Before you start recruiting, spend some time thinking about the skills, interests, or experience you want your testers to have. You should also consider what, if any, incentives you plan to offer people who agree to be beta testers.
You’ve set clear goals and recruited a group of testers, so now you need to get the product to your users. Good news — this is relatively easy with the help of beta-testing software. There are multiple options available — some of them make delivering your app to users as simple as sending an email.
The best tool for you depends on several factors, including the number of testers, the type of feedback you want to collect, and the operating system and device types you plan to run on. We’ll cover some of the most popular options in more detail later in this post.
Collecting and Evaluating Feedback
The value of beta testing comes from collecting user feedback and translating it into actions that make your app better. Depending on your goals, there are several types of feedback you may want to collect, including:
- Bug reports
- Feature requests
- User experience journal
- Discussion board comments
- App performance analytics
- Survey responses
- Performance metrics for different devices
Many beta-testing tools have features to help you easily collect feedback and interact with your testers. You can take advantage of these tools or collect feedback manually using email and spreadsheets.
Either way, you should take testers’ feedback seriously and spend significant time interpreting and evaluating the input they give.
The next step in the beta testing process is figuring out what changes to make based on the user feedback you’ve received. Some changes — like fixing bugs — are obvious, but what about major changes to the core functionalities or redesigning your user interface?
Decisions about changes are up to you. You have to balance listening to your users with doing what makes sense in the context of your plans for your app. Don’t forget to test any changes you make with users to confirm you’re on-target and moving in the right direction.
How to Find Great Beta Testers
Great beta testing requires great beta testers. So how do you find people willing to test your app and send quality feedback? Here are a few options:
- Beta testing sites
- Your email list
The people on your email list are already interested in your app, making them great beta testing candidates.
- Social media
Social media sites like Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are great places to look for testers. Post about your app in relevant groups or use the hashtag #testmyapp to connect with potential users.
If you’re building an app for internal company use, the best testers are the employees who will use it.
- Relevant interest groups
Leverage local interest groups such as young professional and business owner associations to find testers.
Finding people willing to test your app is only the first step — you also need to evaluate their skills and determine if they’re a good fit for your app. Screening options include requiring testers to fill out a short application or send you a message explaining why they want to test your app.
Best Beta-Testing Tools for Your Cloud-based Application
Beta-testing tools make everything from app deployment to analytics and user engagement faster and easier. Here are some of the best tools on the market:
- UserTesting works for mobile and web-based apps and offers excellent user engagement features.
- Zephyr is a favorite with Agile development teams and features good integration and extensive customization options.
- Test Flight is a free tool for testing apps designed to run on Apple operating systems and devices.
- Google Play Beta Testing is free and easy to use for Android developers and has excellent analytics options.
- TestRail is a flexible tool with excellent all-around testing capabilities.
Thinklogic is Here to Help
You don’t have to figure out beta testing on your own. Whether you have an idea for a new app or you’re ready to test, we can help.
We’ve helped hundreds of clients with our custom app development, project management, testing, and marketing services. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.