Beta testing is a great validator to understand if you built the correct application for your target audience. It serves multiple purposes, all of which initiatives lead to one significant aspect - improving customer experience.
Users are now savvy and know that they have options. So, if you fail to deliver a good user experience, your potential customers will move on to another competitor app and never look back.
Because of this, beta testing has become an integral part of the software development lifecycle. So, let's take a look at what beta testing is and the key benefits it holds.
What are Beta and Alpha Testing?
Beta testing is the user-accepted test in which a group of users tests an almost completed application to assess its performance in a neutral environment. This phase of app building aims to expose any problems and gather feedback from real-time users to make improvements. The application is ready to be released for public use after beta testing.
On the other hand, alpha testing is the initial testing phase that helps validate the features and functionalities of a new application. The internal testing team conducts these tests before the beta testing.
Beta testing of apps is categorized into two main parts –
Closed testing - This method limits the total number of users in the beta testing process. If the app undergoes closed beta testing, then only users who the app builder invites will be able to install and use the beta version.
Open testing - This testing method does not limit the number of users in the beta testing process. Suppose an app is under the open testing process. In that case, anybody can directly install it from the PlayStore or submit a request to the app developer for the file to install the app on a computer or mobile device.
Beta Testing vs. Alpha Testing
Let us take a look at a brief comparison of Alpha and Beta testing to understand their technical differences:
Conducted by an internal testing team in the company in a simulated environment.
Conducted by real-time users in a real environment.
Executed prior to beta testing.
Conduct post-alpha testing before being launched in the market.
Longer and more rigorous execution cycles.
Tests last for 2-12 weeks.
Uses both black and white box methods.
Uses only black box testing methods.
Conducted to identify potential bugs.
Used to evaluate the overall performance of the app.
Once bugs are identified, they are fixed.
Bugs are detected and reported by the users on a real-time basis, post which they are resolved.
Main aim - is to test the functionality and workability of the app.
Main aim - Test the security features and reliability of the app
Results from these tests are easily implemented as the product is in the mid-development phase.
Results from these tests are implemented in upcoming versions of the application.
Studies suggest that more than 9000+ devices with 21 different OS and 8 different search engines access the internet daily. That means there can be over 63,000 device combinations, operating systems, and browser combinations. And this number will keep increasing as new software and hardware models are launched.
With the availability of multiple combinations of devices, browsers, and operating systems, there may be a chance of your app not working on any combination, which is why alpha testing is required. If not done, then you might face the following issues:
The UI design and functionality of your app may not be the same across all devices
The features may not work as you intended due to a combination of the browser, device, and operating system
How to Enable Beta Testing for Diverse Applications?
Beta testing is successful when the testing is completed efficiently and all bugs are fixed before the release of the application. Beta testing can be competently steered with the succeeding steps:
1) Fix the number and types of testers required: )
Having at least 100-300 beta testers is recommended when you perform closed beta testing for your app. Also, you must ensure that you have selected the type of testers you want. Generally, there are two main types of beta testers - Technical and Marketing. You can also create beta testing personas to select suitable beta testers.
2) Setting a time limit for testing:
You need to develop a fixed time frame for the beta testing phase. Limit your beta testing time to 2-12 weeks, while most beta tests last for 4-8 weeks. This time limit is based on your resources, objectives, time constraints, tester limitations, and other conditions.
3) Locating your beta testers:
You must select beta testers depending on the type of software app and your target audience. Let's say you are building a gaming app for people living in Europe. Then it would help if you got your beta testers specifically from those demographics.
4) Releasing the app's beta version:
Once your beta testers are ready, you need to invite them to install the beta version of the application. The invite is usually sent through app distributors like Google Play Developer Console, AppBlade, and Testflight.
5) Keeping testers engaged:
It would help if you motivated beta testers so that they can test your app with its functionalities to ensure the success of the beta testing phase. This can be done by offering rewards to beta testers with incentives to spot critical errors and bugs.
6) Seeking valuable feedback:
Once your beta testers finish their testing, they need to submit detailed feedback on the app. This can be done through the app's beta version or via email. You could also call a few testers to get detailed accounts of their experience.
7) Implementing the changes:
The feedback from the beta testing will consist of suggestions and recommendations for changes in the overall application.
How do Testers Replicate Bugs Encountered while Beta Testing?
One needs to understand that if any critical bugs are found during beta testing of the application, the testers need to replicate these bugs and find ways to remove them. To copy the bug, you can do the following:
Step 1 - Get your internal tester to answer the following:
When did the tester experience the bug?
What feature was the tester using when he found the bug?
Details relating to the events that led to the bug
How was the involved network condition once the tester found the bug?
Other information that the beta tester thinks is essential
Step 2 - The internal testers must ensure that they test the exact scenario experienced by the beta tester.
Step 3 - The internal tester must test the app on the same device used by the beta tester.
Key Benchmarks for Beta Testing
Explore which beta test metrics to stress for monitoring your application quality and cross-check the tasks of your beta testers so you can better solve involved challenges. Some of the critical benchmarks and practices for the best beta testing solutions are:
Setting clear goals right from before - You need to set goals you want to achieve from the beta testing phase. This helps avoid confusion and achieve defined objectives effectively.
Understand the pros and cons of beta testing - If you want reliable feedback, choose closed beta tests, but if you have substantial software applications, go for open testing.
Do not get your beta testers from the same source - Whether offline or online, always use multiple sources for beta testers. This brings in a diverse range of testers to help track bugs in your app.
Take all feedback positively and effectively work on all of them - You need to consider criticism as feedback and take it with a positive note to help improve your app's performance.
Reward your beta testers for critical feedback - When you incentivize beta testers so that they point out critical issues, it makes the testing faster, more precise, and more competitive. This motivates beta testers to work better and, in turn, helps improve your app.
Some Limitations of Beta Testing
The reports of the recognized bugs do not fit each time.
The involved test environment is not under the regulation of the software development team. It is sometimes tough to reproduce the errors due to the testing environment differing from one user to the other.
If there are a lot of problems and challenges, this can cause damaging publicity for the product. This is for the reason that the individuals testing the software are end users only with no responsibility to the software development team.
Beta testing is one of the most critical phases in the app development process. The test helps new app developers gather feedback by exposing them to real users in real-time in a natural environment.
Because of this, beta testing has become an indispensable part of the entire app development process. It allows some real-time users to test apps and detect defects before a public launch.
This also helps test customer satisfaction and gives others an early insight into the product that is about to be launched into the market.
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