As we all know, no mobile app is ready for publication right after the development process. Even though the end product might be functional, it contains several bugs or glitches that are invisible at first sight. Each software program has to undergo a series of tests in order to guarantee it’s well being and integrity.

What is Beta Testing?

Beta testing can be described as a kind of acceptance testing which is conducted after Alpha testing. While Alpha testing is carried out by immediate stakeholders of an app, Beta testing is an extension to external areas. Alpha testers usually include the developing team, QA personnel and official app testers within an agency. Beta testers is a group of people who have no relation to your business, but are granted the opportunity to contribute to your work. With Beta testing your application is positioned in a real-world environment, and feedback reflects opinions of real end users.

Why Beta Testing Matters

Beta Testing is way to obtain customer validation and satisfaction for your mobile app. It is an extremely important step of quality software development and delivery. If you skip it and jump right into commercial/official release, let’s just say you’re going to be very unhappy in the near future. Whether you’re developing an iOS or Android app, it will have to go through secondary Beta testing, because Alpha testing alone is insufficient. Despite the fact that Alpha testing involves a group of experts who are most familiar to the product, they can only discover and fix the obvious flaws. It takes time and the insight of a third party to come across hidden errors and obscure deficiencies.

Truth is that it’s nearly impossible to examine each and every detail of an application and replicate every configuration. Only mass testing can enable revelation of many defects, and Beta testing does exactly that. Beta testers that agree to try your app are committed to use it consistently over a fixed time period. Any issues encountered during this time-frame are to be recorded, and suggestions can be forwarded as well. Beta Testing lets the app owners know what their mobile app lacks and what is extra. Among the bundles of requests to add certain features, there are several demanding to minus some.

Types of Beta Tests and Testers

Beta tests can be ‘opened’ or ‘closed’. Closed Beta testing includes a group of handpicked individuals that are provided authenticated access to an app. On the contrary, open beta testing is open to the general public, where anyone can volunteer and leave feedback. Closed beta testing results in more valuable outcome or feedback, whereas open beta testing provides a more diverse and profound public opinion. However, closed beta testing is always preferred because it leads to constructive data compared to heaps of mostly useless info generated by the latter.

Aside from that, beta testers can be divided into two types as well: Technical Betas and Marketing Betas. Technical Betas are the more influential group as they focus on finding problems and devising solutions. The purpose of Marketing Betas is to create an initial audience and generate hype for the app in queue for release.

Recruiting Beta Testers

The number and types of Beta testers you will need depends on the scale of your project and what you are aiming for. Beta testing cannot be done within a day or two; the complexity of your app plays a major role in deciding the time period. Normally, for small to medium sized applications, the ideal beta testing time stretches from one week to three months. Sizable apps may require more time, but prolonging the process is not a good move. Some companies take years before officially launching their app, which carves a negative effect. The anticipation dies fast and something new grabs the attention of your audience.

Before hiring beta testers you must determine the resources you have, the different phases your app must go through and the kind of testers you are looking for. For technical beta, your priority would be technical knowledge and experience. In the case of marketing beta, you may target audience by age, gender, location, interests, etc. No matter what the case, the selection of candidates has to be unbiased. Limiting your selection by personal preferences, such as racial discrimination can become a disadvantage. Embracing diversity in the process of recruitment will give you a deeper insight and expand the possibilities of improvement.

The higher the number of beta testers, the greater will be the amount of useful feedback. More data will assist in accurate evaluation of your apps weaknesses and strengths. You must keep in mind that only one in five testers will actually provide something worthwhile; many might not contribute at all. Negative feedback can be tormenting at times, but rather fruitful as long as it’s honest. You don’t need an audience that only tells you what you want to hear. The sole purpose of beta testing is highlighting imperfections after all.

Therefore, it is crucial that you hire a team that is not afraid of giving a genuine review. You need to encourage and accommodate every kind of critique; listen to everyone and consider what they say. Sometimes the feedback you receive may  conflict with your own ideas. However, if something makes sense and is practically beneficial, try to keep an open mind and accept change. It is not possible to act upon every suggestion, but take away as much as you can.

Since only 20% beta testers sincerely do their job, hiring merely a dozen will not be sufficient. Many big corporations let thousands of people participate, but that is not a recommendable figure for the average app developing company. Getting about 200-300 beta testers on board is usually a safe bet; this range produces sufficient amount of pragmatic analysis. Feedback acquired from thousands of users can become painful to manage and decipher.

You do not have to pay beta testers and their reward is generally getting early access to the product itself. Nonetheless some incentive is necessary if you want to accomplish a successful campaign and get reliable users on your side. If your app is a paid one, then the least you can do is give it to them for free. In case it’s a free app with a premium version or in-app purchases, offer them the advantages free of cost. This gesture will help you build a strong alliance with your recruits and they will look forward to help you with future projects as well.

Now that you’ve figured out how many and what kind of beta testers you want, the real question is: Where to find them? Twitter hashtags and Reddit can get you equipped in no time, but here are a few other promising platforms:

  • Betatesters.io
  • Betatesting.com
  • Betabound.com
  • Betalist.com

There are also a number of app distribution platforms you can choose from. Some popular choices are:

  • TestFlight
  • Google App Console
  • AppBlade
  • Appaloosa

 

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