Beta Testing is a phase of software testing which is intended to allow an audience sample to try out the product. In Greek alphabets, beta is the second, following alpha. Alpha is the first phase which is the testing phase, while beta can be said to be the pre-release test. The application is subjected to real-world testing before the actual launch. It is a pool of potential end-users who use the application and give unbiased feedback. From the experience of those users, the feedback is returned to the engineering team who make the final changes before the app goes live.
Importance of Beta Testing
The beta testing phase is often neglected in the product development cycle. In many organizations, it remains one of the most underrated phases, but there are many unsaid benefits of it. It is generally smaller than the in-house alpha testing. Other popular names for this process are customer acceptance testing, user acceptance testing, customer validation, and field testing.
Beta testing holds a great value as it is done as a customer-facing test. In many cases, beta testing gives back unexpected feedback on various fronts like quality, experience, etc. With this feedback, the development team can refine the product before the final release and improve the user experience significantly.
Through a beta testing process, the development team can analyze if the customer expectations are matched, and also evaluate how ready the product is for release. The product that is sent to a beta testing phase is a feature-complete product that might have some bugs and a few crashes. The process aims to identify those glitches and suggest improvements before the commercial launch of the product. Those feedback act as a catalyst for the developers to improvise the final product for the user.
- Beta testing gives an additional level of validation to the product development lifestyle.
- Aids in discovering unexpected errors missed by the QA team.
- Considered cost-effective when compared to alpha testing.
- The test environment is not under control and differs from user to user.
- As a large group of users performs the test, the scope of testing increases.
- The error reporting might not be proper and systematic.
- Can cause negative publicity for the product
- It is difficult to find the right beta testers with the required knowledge set.
- At times, beta testing can become time-consuming which might lead to a delay in the product release.
- Lack of proper feedback can prove a waste of time with no improvements incorporated.
Challenges in Beta Testing
Even though the beta test phase is full of great opportunities to interact with real customers, it is a difficult process to manage. For many tech companies, it is a frustrating task given the fact that the beta testing industry is still in its infancy. With no standard charges and terminology, the industry is full of challenges.
- Insufficient Resource: Many testers don’t have the required resources for a beta testing program which includes a lack of the right kind of tools and time for testing. Also, not having a dedicated beta tester team is a big drawback for many tech firms. A dedicated focused beta test team and tools can improvise the program.
- Lack of Established Process: There is no standardized process for beta test programs, which makes it more difficult to manage. A consistent & repeatable process would make the beta tests more effective. With a standard process, one can gather data & feedback in a more actionable way effectively.
- Too many tools: One of the primary challenges is having to juggle multiple tools to manage tests and the testers. One collects different types of feedback, through different disjoint systems. This creates a complex mess and a frustrating situation. Also, a lot of information can be lost while juggling the tools.
Who Does Beta Testing?
Beta testers are not always the people who participate for the sake of receiving free products/credits. Even though it is a common motivation, there are many other reasons why people opt to become beta testers.
One of the most under-appreciated reasons for becoming a beta tester is the want to fix something. Many beta testers are loyal customers who are likely to have spent hours using the product. By becoming a beta tester they get an exclusive opportunity to be a part of the development. Many people join the beta to explore the product, as they might have been unsatisfied with a similar product. A beta test forum also provides a unique opportunity for the testers to network and socialize with similar personalities.
Understanding the characteristics of the beta tester helps the companies to pick the better testers and increase the efficient outcome.
No matter whether you are a startup or an established brand, the ultimate business goal is customer satisfaction. Releasing a product that might not impress the audience is of no use. Beta testing helps in filling the gap and gives a chance to rectify the errors in case there are any.