Beta testing in general

Alpha Testing vs Beta Testing: What's the Difference?

Beta Testing of a product is performed by "real users" of the software application in a "real environment" and can be considered as a form of external User Acceptance Testing. Alpha testing is a type of acceptance testing; performed to identify all possible issues/bugs before releasing the product to everyday users or the public. The focus of this testing is to simulate real users by using a black box and white box techniques.

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The value of user testing

Beta testing rests in you showing an almost complete product to your potential users. They will try it out and provide their critical feedback. Ask users questions about the product and their experience with it, see their user story, and have them file bug reports for you. Employ this type of testing if the product is almost ready to see the world, but you want to check with end users before publishing it. A very rough version with only partial functionality or lots of bugs will not work here.

Beta testing works best among other types of user testing if you need to test your nearly completed product to identify critical bugs and gather final feedback.

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How online beta testing works

Aside from the opportunity to gain an objective analysis of how a program works in the real world, Beta testing also provides other benefits, including:

  • provides knowledge of logic problems, data flow issues, and unforeseen crashes
  • enables the whole development team to fix critical issues, streamline the product, and adapt a targeted marketing approach
  • generates excitement via word of mouth ahead of release date
  • provides input for product improvements for future versions"

Find more in this Surveypolice blog post

I tested 3 different methods to get feedback from Beta testers

Complementary to beta-testing surveys, you can also run in-person demos and recorded videos of beta testers providing their interaction with the software.

Find more about these methods in this blog post

A case for beta testing

Running a beta-testing campaign will allow you to build a community of engaged users that will give you feedback on your new ideas, features and releases, which, in turn, helps them feel valued.

Find more about beta-testing benefits in this UX Collective blog post

How to Find Ideal Beta Testers

Beta testing is most valuable when done early enough in your product release cycle that you can incorporate feedback from beta into your product, yet late enough in the development cycle that a legitimate version of the product is being tested.
The quality of the beta feedback will rest in large part on your ability to recruit and motivate the right group of testers.
Figure out who your target audience is BEFORE you start recruiting people for a beta test.

Find out more about finding beta testers in this Uservoice blog post

6 Key Steps to Follow for Beta Testing Your Products

Beta testing is thus a crucial step to product release. While developing your product idea, make sure you build an audience around it simultaneously, because you just cannot afford to launch your product first and then discover the flaws that is within it.
Beta testing doesn’t just provide an answer that may arise with the technicalities of the product; it also gives an insight into those features that should be added or avoided in the product.

Find our more about the steps to follow for beta testing in this Hackernoon post

Beta testers rewards and incentives

How to manage feedback from beta testers

When a user gives feedback, they’ve helped you out. No matter how positive or negative their feedback, no matter how creative their suggestions, you should show that you are listening.

If you are sending a newsletter to your beta testers or showing a change log at startup, thank your most prolific beta testers by name in the newsletter or change log. Most of us appreciate receiving some public acknowledgement.

Find out more on managing beta tester feedback in this Feature Upvote blog post

What is considered a reasonable reward for beta testers?

You should absolutely reward your testers, but the point is that you should understand them.

Beta testers could range from early adopter fans to professional technical testers. What unites the best of them is a genuine desire to help improve your product.

So the best way to reward your beta testers is to first respect them.

You can also send personalized thank you letters to those who catch critical bugs — a small yet effective gesture that shows appreciation to individual testers.

Find out more about rewarding beta testers in this Quora post

How to Motivate Beta Testers to Give You Regular Product Feedback

There are plenty of ways to thank your beta testers for participating, including gift cards (Starbucks, Amazon, etc.), discounts on or access to your company’s other products, big ticket prizes, and personalized gifts (the magic of swag t-shirts!). 

In general, if you choose to compensate beta testers, keep the overall value of the incentive in line with the type of feedback they are providing. A couple of hours providing beta feedback in a focus group style setting may be worth some pizza and a beverage, while a months long commitment requiring frequent feedback may warrant a more substantial prize (an iDevice, for example) or accolade (“Beta Tester of the Year”.)

Find out more in motivating beta testers in this Uservoice blog post

Survey questions

Survey questions 101

Closed-ended questions work very well to begin surveys, because they’re easy for customers to answer. This is called the foot-in-the-door principle—once a user commits to answering the first question, they’re more likely to answer the open-ended questions that follow.

Open-ended questions help you learn about customer needs you didn’t know existed, and they shine a light on areas for improvement that will probably surprise you.

In short, if you limit your respondents’ answers, you’ll cut yourself off from some key insights. And open-ended questions are an absolute must when you first begin collecting feedback and you know next to nothing about your users.

Find out more about how to ask the right questions and what to avoid in this Hotjar post

FYI’s Cofounder on Beta Testing Products: Exact Questions to Ask Your Users (and Why)

During early access as a whole, you’re hoping to learn the following:

  • Improved understanding of the customer’s problem
  • Gauge pricing 
  • NPS for them and competitors
  • Which features are most valuable
  • What marketing copy works best

When you write the questions, remove bias as much as possible. For example, if you’re asking what their biggest challenge is, you want to make sure that you're not getting really specific in the way you ask that question.

Find out more about survey questions in this User interviews post

10 Tips for Writing Great Beta Surveys

Remember that in most scenarios, testers are volunteering their time and energy. Respect that. Generally, 10 questions is a good survey, 15 is long but acceptable, and 20+ is only really appropriate toward the end of a beta test (since you won’t be asking for much more afterward).

Find our more tip about surveys in this Centercode blog post

What to Ask Your Beta Testers to Get Better Feedback

In beta testing, you want testers to try and break your app, identify corner case bugs, and probe edge cases. Your questions should also seek to elicit answers that point to areas where your app needs improvement — its weak spots.

Find our more about how to get better feedback from beta testers in this Instabug blog post

Sources of beta-testing wisdom

Where are the top performance testing tools? Find out with a few good reasons to select one of them in this article

Commercial companies in the general field of beta-testing and crowd-testing, also called user acceptance or user validation testing, often published interesting blogs. Although they are instruments of direct or indirect advertising, showcasing how good and knowledgeable the companies are, these posting are most often than not worth a reading. Check these out:

From the online press:

In the social media: