What is Crowdtesting? A Definitive Guide

What is crowdtesting? What are the benefits of crowdtesting? Is crowdtesting right for you? Find the answers to all these questions in our ultimate guide.

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What is Crowdtesting? A Definitive Guide

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After months of hard work, your new software has finally been completed. It’s taken hundreds of hours and late nights, but at last, you’re ready to launch it to the market. Or are you? It’s rare, extremely rare, for software development to be perfect at the first go. So what do you do? You want people to test it for you, and you want as many as possible with diverse viewpoints. 

The solution is to crowdtest your new software—Have the various aspects of the program examined in detail by a group of people who will, hopefully, notice any flaws or errors so that they can be corrected. But just what is crowdtesting? How do you do it? Why is it important? And what advantages and disadvantages do using crowd testers offer?

What is crowdtesting?

Crowdtesting (also known as crowdsourced testing) is a process whereby a company or developer uses a group of people to test their software to increase release velocity. This can include mobile apps, SaaS, any sort of program, desktop apps, digital products, and even websites. Testing can take place at the end of development or in its various stages.

Crowdtesters run the software on their devices to see if they can spot any errors, bugs, or areas for improvement. They can be asked to look at the program as a whole or specific aspects such as feature testing, accessibility testing, functional testing, usability testing, etc. People chosen through crowdsourcing will usually have diverse experience, skills, etc., and use diverse devices.

The importance of crowdtesting

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It can sometimes be challenging to spot bugs and errors until a certain level of usage of a piece of software has been reached. This usually equates to a usage that covers every aspect of the program. To carry out comprehensive and extensive testing in-house would be a lengthy and costly process. By outsourcing to crowd testing services or crowdsourcing, that process can be carried out quickly, allowing developers to fix issues before the product reaches end-users. 

Testers may be professionals (working on a freelance basis) or experienced and dedicated amateurs. Indeed crowdtesting can be a career or just a part-time option. It allows a company to have a diverse group of individuals look at the functionality of their software from different perspectives and ensure that the program works well across a wide range of devices. 

Crowdtesting is about putting your customers first. You want to eliminate bugs and errors before the product goes to market, so they don’t experience potential issues and have negative customer experiences. 

The ROI of crowdtesting

QA testing used to be carried out in-house. But that process was not only time-consuming, it was also inefficient as far as the use of QA teams and other staff was concerned. By freeing up resources and personnel to focus on other projects, any costs incurred using external crowdtesting services or teams are offset, making the process cost-effective. 

The level of testing, and thus the cost, can vary greatly. Depending on the tasks to be performed, you may require a team with a certain level of technical knowledge (or none at all). 

Best use cases for crowdtesting

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Crowdtesting can be used to test a wide range of aspects of your software. But the two primary areas it covers are user experience and quality assurance. But what would be a typical crowdtesting use case? 

1. Test objects. One of the most common areas for crowdsourced testing, this can cover a variety of objects. Testing may be carried out via a centralized cloud platform or by providing the testers with the app, program, or access to the website. Objects that can be tested include:
  • Mobile apps
  • Websites and online ecommerce platforms/shops.
  • Games
  • Wearable tech (such as smartwatches).
  • Business apps
  • Automation (such as chatbots, virtual assistants, etc.) 
  • The internet of things

2. Industries. Many software programs are industry-specific and may be designed for particular tasks such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) programs. Each sector, and sometimes each company, has its own needs and requirements, and ensuring your software meets those needs is essential before implementation. 

3. Needs analysis. Knowing what you need and at which stage of the development cycle is crucial. That can include the sort of development model you’re utilizing (waterfall or agile) and whether you aim your software at consumers or organizations. 

How to set-up crowdtesting

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So, you’re an organization in the process of developing a new software program. You’ve identified that opting to crowdsource software or application testing is a cost-effective choice. How do you set up that testing process?

1. Planning 

  1. Decide on the scope of software testing. That could be on a ‘finished’ product, a particular feature, or a prototype or beta version of your program. 
  2. Provide context. List what you want to achieve, what requirements and goals you expect from the testing process. 
  3. Identify required skill sets. Once you have (a) and (b) set out, you can identify what skills and technical level you expect your testers to possess. For example, if you’re developing a financial services app, you may want your testers to have experience in that sector. 
  4. Timeframe. Your testing process may have to fit within a set timeframe. If you want your software launched on or around a specific date, then you need to allow time not only for testing but for any required fixes. 
  5. Specifications. What do you want from the actual process of testing? You need to let your testers know what expectations you have and what deliverables you require. Identify anything like metrics or bug reports that you would like to be highlighted.
  6. Communication. You need someone to coordinate the process and the information. If you’ve employed a crowdtesting platform or company, this may involve one of your managers acting as a project manager alongside one of theirs. If you’ve outsourced to freelancers, then someone from within your business would have to carry out this role. Your development team also needs to be kept in the loop.
  7. Hire. Once you’ve completed the above, you need to hire your crowdtesters. You can do this through a specialist firm or entirely by yourself. 

2. Initiation

Once you’ve planned every aspect of the process carefully, you can move on to initiating it. 

  1. Configuration. Set up the different scenarios to be tested and the data, access, etc., required to do so. Set up any technical or functional configurations required.
  2. Access. You need to set up secure access for your testers as required. This could involve providing them with relevant mobile applications, identifying the operating system they use, etc. Access may be direct in some cases (sending them the beta version of a mobile app, for example), or it may be password-protected access to your cloud platform.
  3. Trial. If your user testing process is wide-ranging and complex, you may want to consider a ‘trial run’ that can illustrate if the process will work smoothly and may even provide some initial sample results. 

3. Execution stage

Once you’re happy that everything is in place and that your testers know what’s expected of them—they know how to make a bug report, what testing methods to use, etc., you can then officially commence the testing process as a whole. 

4. Evaluation & decisions 

Once the testing process is complete, you need to collect all data, reports, etc., and evaluate these. You can also assess the performance of your testing team (this can help expedite the hiring process next time). All the reports and data should be reviewed, and decisions made on what action is now needed. For complex testing processes, you may then repeat the cycle. 

Pros and cons of crowdtesting

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Crowdtesting has both advantages and disadvantages. Knowing what they are can help you make a balanced and informed decision or put a strategy in place to minimize any disadvantages.

Pros

  1. Human Diversity: By employing a diverse group of testers, you bring a diverse set of perspectives to the process—different levels of expertise, demographic groups, locations, languages, and life experiences can give you a good overview of your product. You can also tailor the group to reflect your target audience. 
  2. Speed: Timescales can be critical. Crowdtesting means you can carry out several test cycles simultaneously, leading to quicker results and, potentially, a faster time getting the product to market. 
  3. Cost-effective: It’s rare to hire a tester full-time. With such a large global pool (across several disciplines) of testers available, crowdtesting can represent a significant saving. This can be crucial when you consider the variety of devices and operating systems now available.

Cons

  1. Glitches in tests: There’s the possibility that you may get a higher error rate with ‘casual’ crowdtesters as opposed to an in-house team. And because of their lack of familiarity with the product, they may not spot all the bugs. If you change testers over cycles, they may also repeat these mistakes.
  2. Overlooked quality. When you only outsource your testing, there may be scenarios where more complex bugs are missed, affecting quality. To avoid this, you should consider a hybrid model with a combination of in-house and external testers. 
  3. Confidentiality: If your software has revolutionary new features, then there’s always some concern that external testers could represent a threat to those. Unless you’re working with a trusted group or company, it may be best to keep any sensitive features in-house. 

Best crowdtesting sites

1. Global App Testing

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The market leader for web and app testing, GAT combines crowdtesting with intelligent automation to ensure your projects are realized efficiently. With the ability to test in over 189 countries and a thoroughly vetted team of more than 50,000 professionals, it’s no surprise that GAT is employed by global enterprises, such as Microsoft and Facebook. They offer rapid testing and scalability to suit any timeframe or project.

2. Cobalt

Cobalt is a specialist PtaaS (Pentest as a Service) that can help with the compliance and security needs of DevOps teams. It provides workflow integrations and high-quality testers. However, GAT features a greater range of existing integrations with software development and project management platforms so that your team can track bugs, collaborate on solutions, and tackle known issues within your app effortlessly.

As a specialist service, Cobalt only focuses on a narrow field and lacks the experience and breadth of solutions offered by GAT. 

3. Bugwolf

Bugwolf is a SaaS platform that allows you to formulate a testing plan and assemble a team quickly. Its primary focus is on identifying and tracking bugs. When it comes to efficiency of service, GAT is unbeatable. It can perform exploratory testing in under 36 hours and manual test case execution from 30 mins to 150 mins.

As with some other solutions, Bugwolf lacks the broader experience of Global App Testing and is less suited to larger projects or organizations.  

4. Crowdsprint

Crowdsprint offers reliable testing for mobile apps as well as either web or cloud-based applications. They provide your projects with both test and delivery managers to ensure that planning and communications are of high quality. However, their lack of specialists for testing can be off-putting compared to GAT; these make up only 1% of their testing pool.   

5. Userfeel

With testers speaking 40 languages, Userfeel may be a good choice if your website or app needs to be multilingual. Userfeel offers the ability to create a ‘highlights’ video where testers explain and demonstrate issues they’ve encountered. 

However, the pricing may not be to your liking compared to an industry leader such as Global App Testing. GAT can also test your apps in localized settings worldwide and produce high-quality bug reports. These aren’t limited to videos of each issue but include step-by-step test execution details, screenshots before and after for each step, and crash and session logs.

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6. Betafamily

The Beta Family is mainly aimed at offering testing solutions of beta versions of iOS and Android operating systems applications. As with some other options, the narrow focus when compared to GAT will not suit many organizations. 

7. Stardust

Stardust offers a range of different testing options, including functional, operational, and regression testing. They also cover multilingual testing, making them a good choice for organizations launching programs globally. However, as one of the smaller testing companies, they may not offer the same capacity as GAT.  

8. QA Mentor

Providing ISO-certified QA services, QA Mentor serves every level of business. They combine the expertise of professional testers with onshore and offshore resources to offer solutions. But they only focus on specific sectors, which limits their usability. Also, ISO-certified, GAT offers testing across every industry type. 

9. Rainforest 

Rainforest is an on-demand crowdtesting and QA platform that offers automated testing processes. You can choose to integrate any processes into the existing workflow of your project, and an AI-powered engine executes the tests. Rainforest is not as simple to set up as GAT, which may put many potential users off. With its user-friendly software, GAT easily integrates your tech stack with its platform to increase team productivity.

10. User Testing

User testing offers customer-centric crowdtesting, swift feedback, and the opportunity to view videos of people using your product. But the site has poor feedback from many users and testers, especially when compared to GAT. 

11. MyCrowd QA

With tests commencing in real-time, MyCrowd QA offers a range of testing processes for websites and apps. Results are delivered quickly in the form of insightful reports that highlight any bugs or other errors so you can take quick action to fix them. But it’s a pricier alternative to GAT, which may put some companies off, as GAT also offers detailed reports with analysis of any issues. 

12. TestIO 

Test IO is aimed at agile development teams and offers QA testing on real devices at any or all points of your development cycle. Setup and results delivery are both quick and precise. However, Test IO is a pricier alternative to GAT, and, unlike GAT, Test IO has a habit of duplicate bug reporting. 

The takeaway 

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While the aspects of QA testing you require may vary, most organizations need efficient end-to-end testing of overall functionality. And depending on the complexity of the plan, you should take advantage of the high level of integration that GlobalApp Testing offers you. 

Picking a company that offers the most focused and varied testing processes can help you identify bugs and errors so that they can be fixed promptly. With potentially tight schedules to adhere to, knowing you won’t be trapped in an endless cycle of test and retest can give you the confidence to know you will meet any planned release date.

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