By Fernando Berrocal
What is the purpose of beta testing?
Beta testing allows actual consumers to utilize a product in a production setting to find any flaws or issues before it is released to the wider public. Beta testing is the final phase of testing before a product is released to the general public. In this controlled environment, the goal is to find as many bugs or usability issues as possible.
Beta testers are "actual" users who test in a production setting with the same hardware, networks, and other features as the final version. Because full security and reliability testing cannot be conducted in a lab or stage setting, this is also the first opportunity to do so.
Open or closed beta tests are available. Anyone can use the product in an open test, and they are generally informed that the product is in beta and given away to provide feedback. Closed beta testing is confined to a small set of testers, which might include current customers, early adopters, or paid beta testers. They are sometimes carried out by sending a specific percentage of people to the beta site rather than the current release.
Testing can last for a defined amount of time or until no new issues are reported and the most critical ones have been addressed.
The difference between Beta and Alpha testing
The main distinction between an alpha test and a beta test is who conducts the testing: alpha tests are generally conducted by internal workers in a lab or stage environment, while beta tests are conducted by actual users in a production context.
The objective of the alpha test is to find as many flaws as possible before the product is released to the general market. A test seeks to verify that actual users can fulfill their jobs, to get a diverse set of users to engage with the product, and to evaluate the product's scalability, performance, and reliability in real-world scenarios.
What is the Objective?
Before a product is fully published, beta testing is the greatest way to identify defects and usability concerns. While internal testing can reveal a lot of flaws, nothing can replicate actual users completing real activities. Furthermore, beta testing provides the first opportunity to evaluate software in a real-world situation rather than a lab or a stage. This assures that the program can handle real-world workloads and that speed, storage, and scalability are all functioning properly.
Testing is an opportunity to confirm ideas about how consumers will use new features and ensure the product fulfills requirements and expectations, in addition to finding problems. While beta testing is not generally used to add new features or capabilities, it can help guide any “quick fixes” needed to properly fulfill customers' demands. Beta testing also allows you to fine-tune the product's positioning, marketing, and communication by putting it to the test with individuals who are already using it.
When beta invitations are "exclusive," another possible testing goal arises. This is because it is more relevant for new goods than for later releases. Getting some early-adopter influencers into the beta testing pool, on the other hand, can help to generate some buzz and anticipation for the public release.
What is the role of Beta Testing for Product Managers?
Product managers may use the flood of input from beta testing to gather a variety of ideas and suggestions for future releases. Furthermore, because testers are encouraged (and often rewarded) for providing feedback, they are considerably more likely than normal users to make proactive requests and comments.
Beta testing is also an opportunity to start tracking user behavior and analytics to ensure that users interact with the product as intended or to uncover unexpected usage trends. Gathering these insights before a broad release may assist priorities in user education, onboarding, user help, and documentation, resulting in a better overall user experience.
How to Make the Most of Beta Test Results
Testing results can also be used as ammunition if there is a disagreement about how severe a "known problem" is. For example, if product development is reluctant to address a problem, beta tester feedback might assist product management build a better argument for fixing it.
During beta tests, product managers may also conduct experiments and a/b tests to evaluate which prompts, notifications, messages, layouts, and featured content promote the desired behavior.
Examining the production environment's performance during testing may also help determine how aggressively the product should be rolled out. If scalability looks to be a problem during the beta test, for example, the distribution might be reduced to avoid a major outage or performance difficulties. At the same time, the infrastructure is being upgraded to handle a larger demand.
Finally, it may verify that any KPIs or OKRs are associated with predicted behavior. A user's completion of a task, for example, may be expected to result in greater usage or repeat visits. However, if the data does not support this, such measures may need to be adjusted or deprioritized.
Product teams value beta testing, and it should be a checklist item for each significant release. However, nothing can substitute actual consumers using the real product in a real setting.
The information gathered will assist to enhance the current release, set priorities for future releases, and ensure that the roadmap and planning are as responsive as possible to market feedback. In addition, tester feedback is much more frequent and often more detailed than usual product feedback, which arrives in a variety of ways and different volumes.
Supporting a beta test environment parallel to the current production release, as well as recruiting and maintaining beta testers, including communication and feedback collecting and analysis, takes time and effort. However, the benefits of a beta test generally outweigh the resource costs and time-to-market delays, guaranteeing that the final version is of the highest quality, thoroughly verified, and ready for distribution.
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