Testing your mobile app is a crucial part of the deployment process. Therefore, it’s essential to conduct proper beta testing to ensure that your mobile app functions optimally and can meet the expectations and needs of its users.
Fact: testing is a crucial part of the app and software development process. If you’ve read any of our other blog articles regarding app development, you already know how fundamental testing is for us. You simply cannot ship robust and innovative applications without having solid testing strategies in place. You wouldn’t serve a huge Thanksgiving dinner to your family and friends without tasting it first, would you? The same principle applies to the app and software development. You don’t want to release your product without ensuring it works flawlessly, has no annoying bugs, and is ready to please its potential users. Refusing to do so can be catastrophic and can result in an application that has countless errors, drags, takes forever to load, or simply fails to cater to your users’ needs and expectations. Thankfully, we have the option to conduct a beta test, use it to build a solid testing strategy, and, thus, ensure your app is as close to perfection as possible before release.
Beta testing is a critical stage in the app development process, and it’s an essential pre-launch step to ensure that your app is as polished and error-free as possible. However, beta testing can also be a daunting operation, especially if you’re just starting out in the app development world. However, with some guidance and preparation, which is what we’ll try to do in this article, you can ensure your beta testing is easy and successful and becomes a staple of your development practices from now on. Let’s get started!
What is beta testing?
Did you know that around 62% of users uninstall an app if it crashes or freezes, even if it’s just once? Similarly, if it takes more than 4 seconds to load, takes too much memory on their devices, or has a complex registration process, it is also doomed to be sent to oblivion. That’s a pretty sad outcome for all those months of hard work and hundreds of sleepless nights. Gladly, even though instant success is never guaranteed, you can minimize your risks with some good ole’ beta testing.
Beta testing is a type of user acceptance test (UAT) in which you deliver a pre-release version of your application to a group of real users, known as beta testers, who will use it in real-life scenarios to give you valuable feedback, help you iron out any issues, and ensure that your product is ready for its official launch to the public. It is a critical step in the software and app development process because it allows you to gather feedback from first-hand use, which helps you leverage user validation to identify any issues, fix them, and make any necessary improvements before releasing the app to the general audience for its extended use.
But exactly how do you do a beta test? How does it work? It’s pretty straightforward; first and foremost, you need to set clear goals from the start (more on this later on). Then, you simply invite a specifically chosen number of users to try out your app, let them use it as they would usually use any other application, and then ask them to provide feedback with clear instructions on how to do so. Easy peasy, right? Well, it can be. But the truth is that you need to be careful when choosing your beta testers, have a clear strategy, and understand how to gather and interpret the feedback you collect.
Don’t worry; we will give you some tips for how to successfully beta test your app, including setting your goals, selecting suitable beta testers, choosing the right testing tools, and effectively managing feedback. Here we go!
Define your goals and set your criteria
Let’s start from the beginning. Before you even begin to think about performing any beta testing, you must define your goals and criteria for success. As with most things in app development, you need to decide and plan precisely what you want to accomplish with your beta test. Obviously, you want quality improvement and finding and fixing bugs, but everything else depends on your goals. You can start by asking yourself:
- What do you hope to achieve through the beta test?
- What metrics will you use to measure your beta test’s success?
- What type of feedback will you gather?
- How will you gather feedback?
- Which aspects of your app will you focus your beta test on?
Aside from these, you can ask countless other questions to help you design your beta test in a more focused, specific manner. It provides a clear direction for your beta testing efforts and gives you and your team a benchmark against which you can measure the success or failure of your beta test. Moreover, setting clear goals from the start ensures that you allocate resources effectively during the beta testing phase, have the correct scope and coverage, and get highly valuable results from it. As a result, your beta test will be much more effective and will help you ensure that your app is functional, user-friendly, and, ultimately, ready to launch.
Recruit great beta testers
Ok, ok, we know this one may sound obvious. I mean, why would you want to hire awful beta testers? You wouldn’t, of course, but that’s not what we mean. By “great beta testers,” we mean you must hire a group of beta testers that resemble your intended user base as closely as possible. Since beta testers serve as representatives or samples, if you will, of your actual target audience, they must be as similar, hopefully identical, to your existing users in terms of likes and dislikes, demographics, age, hobbies, interests, and overall behaviors. In fact, you can even ask some of your actual users to be part of your beta testing team. This way, you can access the most critical feedback, which can be much more valuable than putting together a “fake” beta testing group. However, if you choose to go this route, it’s essential to ensure these real users are indeed doing an actual dry run of your mobile app and giving you genuine feedback instead of just playing along or doing you a quick favor.
Recruiting great beta testers also means hiring a diverse group of people with very different perspectives and experiences. Diversity equals unique insights, which allows you to identify a broader range of interface inconsistencies, blind spots, potential performance issues, usability challenges, and, more importantly, improvement opportunities. As a result, you can make more informed decisions during your beta test, helping you ensure that your mobile app is flawless and meets your users’ needs and expectations.
Great beta testers are also enthusiastic, zealous, and committed to really using your app and providing authentic, detailed, and constructive feedback. In addition, they typically have the time, disposition, and skills to articulate their experiences and pain points effectively, allowing you to understand their testimonies clearly and use them to refine your app without extra effort. And, since they are technically early advocates for your app if they like what they see, these testers may spread positive word-of-mouth, helping you to establish success upon launch.
Design a beta testing program
Beta testing isn’t just about hiring great testers, handing them your app, and sending them on their merry way. For your beta test to be successful, you need to design a well-structured testing program that engages the testers, encourages them to give you and you to collect meaningful feedback, and maximizes the potential of your testing endeavors. For that purpose, you need to:
- Establish a timeline for your beta testing program. Determine when each stage of your program will take place. This timeline must align with your team’s time and product development roadmap.
- Determine the duration of the testing phase. You need to define how long your beta testing stage will last, with set-in-stone start and end dates.
- Specify any milestones or checkpoints that will take place during the program. For example, you may want your testers to check in at determined intervals and give you feedback or award them for any milestones met.
Having a defined beta testing program is necessary to help you manage your, your team’s, and your testers’ expectations and ensure everyone is on the same page. It will also allow you to develop a very structured testing process, which is pivotal for promoting collaborative processes and empowering your testers to give highly valuable insights.
Provide your testers with a stable, high-fidelity prototype
We can’t stress this enough: your beta test must be as close to the real thing as possible. That not only includes hiring real users as testers but also means giving them a real, feature-rich, fully functional mobile app (beta version) to use and experiment with. Yes, it’s not your finished, final product, but one of the key factors that will significantly impact the effectiveness of your beta test is the provision of a high-fidelity prototype that closely resembles your final product in all aspects, including layout, mobile app icon, UX/UI design, and functionality.
By giving your beta testers a realistic in-app experience, you allow them to interact with it as if they would in a real-life scenario, creating an immersive experience that helps them provide more accurate and specific feedback. Also, while beta testing primarily focuses on feedback, providing testers with a high-fidelity prototype helps them identify technical issues quickly. In other words, it helps them pinpoint and identify any flaws, bugs, glitches, inconsistencies, or usability or user interface issues early on because they can explore different functionalities and navigational flows, which allows them to truly experiment with what your app can and can’t do and transmit it to you. Furthermore, this early detection of potential errors will enable you to address these issues promptly, ensuring an error-free, smoother, and much more stable final version of your mobile app.
Establish clear exit criteria
In beta testing, it is not only crucial you set clear objectives from the get-go, but you also must determine which of those objectives or requirements, if not all, need to be met before concluding your mobile app’s beta testing phase. Furthermore, these objectives, conditions, benchmarks, or requirements will serve as the basis for determining when your beta testing process is complete, which makes them a pivotal component of your testing strategy and can help you more accurately assess your mobile app’s readiness to progress to the next stage.
Examples of exit criteria you can establish for your beta testing phase may include:
- The number of bugs identified.
- The number of bugs fixed.
- Achieving certain user satisfaction ratings.
- Meeting specific performance benchmarks.
- Completing detailed test coverage and times.
Defining and adhering to these and more exit criteria that may apply to your specific project conditions is essential to ensure your strategy’s effectiveness and promote a smooth transition between development phases. You can also leverage exit criteria to manage time frames effectively and allow your team to allocate resources and schedule all testing activities accordingly. As a result, your beta testing has a planned timeline, which is pivotal to avoid unnecessary costs, delays, or extensions that may impact your delivery times, upset your client, and affect your mobile app’s overall development schedule.
At any rate, establishing clear exit criteria can help you ensure that your desired levels of feedback and subsequent app quality and functionality levels have been met and that your testers and your development team have a shared understanding of what constitutes a successful beta testing outcome. Also, since they help ratify a clear endpoint for your beta testing phase, they are vital to preventing your testing strategy from becoming a confusing, open-ended process that either never ends or ends at the wrong time.
Analyze feedback properly and use it to iterate and improve
And last but not least, feedback. You need to collect all the feedback from your beta testers and analyze it systematically. This final step is the most important one, and you need to be very careful about how you categorize and evaluate this feedback because it technically is the backbone of your beta testing phase. You must uncover the actual value of this feedback and leverage it appropriately so it leads to valuable insights, improvements, and, ultimately, a successful final product.
So, after you’ve collected feedback from your beta testers via structured surveys, feedback forms, or any other data collection you decide to use in your planning phase, you have to organize it systematically. For this, you can create categories such as glitches, usability issues, bug reports, feature requirements and changes, performance concerns, and general comments to group similar feedback sets together. This categorization can help you access feedback more efficiently and gain a holistic view to analyze it better. It can also help you prioritize feedback sets based on their significance or ability to impact your mobile app’s user experience so you can quickly identify those issues that require immediate attention, such as critical usability challenges or pesky bugs that can severely damage the core functionality of your mobile app and its user experience, and address them first.
You must also analyze the feedback to identify patterns and find common issues and recurring themes. Doing so can help you target critical areas that require more attention than others so you can address them first. But more importantly, you must use all the insights from your analyzed feedback as a basis for implementing changes and making iterative improvements. This is the only way you can enhance your mobile app’s user experience, address critical issues on time and effectively, and deliver a final product that meets the expectations and needs of your target audience.
Beta testing is a beneficial strategy in app development that has proven to be highly valuable in helping you gather user feedback, identify usability concerns and issues, and learn what improvements to make before the official release of your mobile app. However, for beta testing to be effective, you need to follow a clear roadmap and have a plan to ensure its success and maximize its evident benefits.
By implementing some of these tips, and many others we may have missed, you can conduct a successful beta testing program that unavoidably leads to a higher-quality mobile app. However, if you still feel lost or have any further questions, please make sure to contact us! This is what we do!