Apps don’t become successful without testing. Testing allows you to gain valuable feedback to determine how useful and usable your app is, and how well it meets your customer’s needs. Beta testing is the final round of testing before your app is released to a wider audience, so it’s important to find the right testers for the job. The goal is to get them to uncover any bugs, usability issues, and security risks in a production environment before the app goes live. But not just anyone makes a good beta tester. There are some common qualities to look for — in this post, we share five of the most important.
1. Represent Your Customers
You’ve built your software product, whether it be a mobile app or a responsive website, to meet the needs of a specific group of people. So beta testers should be representative of the customers who will use it. People who fully understand the pain point(s) and have similar technology experience are better able to provide the feedback real users would provide. They can also provide you with insight on how the product fits into their workflow, as well as if it is missing any must-have features. This insight helps you to prioritize development requests before release or after in V2.
If your product is currently available and the beta release is to enhance current functionality, it may be helpful to add people who requested features to test them. They understand the needs better than anyone.
Though it might be tempting to use internal staff or people that you know, don’t do it! It’s important to make sure the beta testers represent users of the product and make sure all of your user personas are represented. Demographic alignment with your target audience including their experience with technology and preferences will give you the most useful information to make any necessary improvements before going live.
2. Demonstrate Commitment
Beta testing can be time-consuming, so you want to be sure your beta testers aren’t too busy to spend the time required to provide constructive feedback. Make sure your testers understand the time commitment. It’s a good idea to walk through your expectations ahead of hiring them.
The best quality beta testing is performed by those who test regularly and provide frequent updates. If someone is sending updates daily, you know they are in the software often. Writing a 10-page document isn’t necessary, but being in the product daily providing regular feedback is. Regular testing and being responsive is what you are looking for with good beta testers.
3. Provide Clear and Thoughtful Feedback
When reporting a defect, beta testers should make sure the feedback provides all of the information a developer will need to replicate the issue. It should be detailed and written so anyone can understand it. Here is some helpful information to include:
- Descriptive title for the issue, including the problem and where it occurred
- Reproducible steps to recreate the bug
- The environment including the device model, battery level, internet connection state, and anything else that could have an impact
- The date tested
- Screenshots of the defect or a video of the issue
It may be helpful to provide a template to beta testers to ensure they provide the information you’re seeking. Quality is much more important than quantity. Feedback should be clear, thoughtful, and provide as complete of a picture as possible.
4. Can Distinguish Between Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves
Beta testing is focused on making sure the product is working, is easy to use, and does what it is supposed to. Testers may find areas that could be enhanced — nice-to-haves that would be good to consider for future releases. However, their focus should be on must-have features and functionality.
Be sure your beta testers understand this and focus their testing on the functionality required for the product. That’s not to say they shouldn’t document suggested enhancements. However, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of listing all of the great new feature ideas instead of focusing on the core required functionality. A great beta tester is one who understands this and can distinguish between the two.
5. The Right Experience in Specific Areas
In addition to representing your potential customers, you may want beta testers with specific product experience. For example, testers with experience using a product that is complementary to yours. This could help you find testers by partnering with the other company to get the word out to potential testers.
You may also want beta testers with experience with a competitor’s product. Someone who uses a product currently on the market will fully understand the advantages and pain points and may be able to provide a deeper level of insight in comparison. This learning can inform your business plan or business model canvas.
Beta Testers are Foundational to a Successful Launch
Beta testing is your last round of testing before you bring your product to market, so make it count! By making sure you have the right people doing the testing and they are clear as to the expectations, you set the foundation for a successful launch.
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