There are many steps between the moment an app idea is first conceived and the moment it’s released to the public. Most of those steps are full of different kinds of testing, and beta testing is one vital element.
The beta testing phase is a crucial one when it comes to taking a piece of software from “pretty good” to “great.” It’s a fantastic way to expose your app to testers without releasing it to the public right away.
But let’s slow down for a moment here. Before we can get into the ins and outs of what makes beta testing so great, we need to understand what exactly a beta test actually is.
We’re going to provide an explanation for exactly that - and much more. To skip to a particular section, simply click the link you want to read more about below. Otherwise, join in for the ride, and let’s dive right in!
- What is beta testing?
- What are the types of beta testing?
- What is the difference between alpha testing and beta testing?
- When is beta testing used
- How to perform beta testing
- What is beta testing software?
- Why do you need beta testing software?
- Must-have features of beta testing software
- Benefits of using beta testing software
- What is Global App Testing?
- Why do you need Global App Testing?
- Why choose Global App Testing?
What is beta testing?
Beta testing is a phase of acceptance testing that involves having end-users test the product before its official product launch. The group of end-users that act as beta testers would generally be smaller than the number of customers a full release would reach. However, we’ll cover the different types of beta tests (including their scopes) in the next section.
A beta program gives developers a realistic perspective on how good their product is. That’s because developers get the chance to hear about the product’s quality from end-users, whose perspective is fundamentally different from the devs’ own.
Beta testers provide feedback on the app to its developers. That feedback then gets processed and turned into guidelines for improvements to the app.
To put it simply, when your end users directly tell you your product is great, you know it’s not your bias for your own creation talking.
Having that realistic, real world perspective lets developers improve the overall quality of their products. That’s vitally important. It’s no secret that product quality matters, so having the opportunity to directly enhance that quality—before you hit the market—means increasing your customer satisfaction and improving your company’s reputation.
While beta testing can’t be fully automated (given its reliance on end users), it can be managed using automation tools.
There are a few different types of beta testing, which is what the next section is all about. Without further ado, let’s explore those main types of beta testing.
What are the types of beta testing?
There are five main types of beta testing. Each of them help to ensure quality in the software that your development team crafts, making them all similar in that regard. Despite this surface-level similarity, the beta testing types do have some notable differences.
Closed beta testing
The first kind of form that beta tests can take is that of a closed beta. Put simply, closed betas involve releasing the software in question to a select group of real users who will test its features and functionalities.
Closed betas involve using a limited number of beta testers. The exact number varies greatly, depending on the needs of the developers and the app itself. However, the idea of closed betas is to pick testers, invite them to participate and then cut off the number of participants at a certain predetermined point.
It follows, then, that closed betas have a smaller scope than other types of tests.
They’re most useful when developers want to test specific features of a new product, such as a particular functionality in an app or landing page on a website.
Open beta testing
Open beta testing is the opposite of closed beta testing, in that an open beta doesn’t restrict the number of testers involved. That’s why an open beta is sometimes also called a public beta.
It’s essentially a type of crowdsourced testing, and considering the fact that the crowdsourced testing market is growing exponentially, it’s no secret that open betas are a very useful way to go about your software testing.
Open betas focus on letting software developers collect quantitative and qualitative data about both the app they’re developing and the way their target market uses that app.
They’re also a great way to assess the scalability of an app and its infrastructure. If a larger number of users easily crashes the app, it needs to go in for reworks. On the other hand, if its framework effectively supports great quantities of users in this phase, that’s good proof that the framework was designed well for its purpose.
Technical beta testing
Technical beta testing is generally going to be a subtype of closed beta testing. That’s because a technical beta relies on using tech-savvy testers who can purposely set about searching for complex bugs.
There’s no guarantee that every potential tester knows their way around bugs, which is why it’s difficult to use an open beta model for technical betas.
Focused beta testing
When developers need to get feedback on a specific feature, they’ll often use a focused beta testing approach. This is usually done when new features are introduced to existing products.
This approach involves releasing the product to testers with the new feature incorporated into the app. It can be released to specific users only (in the style of a closed beta) or to the general user base (making it an open beta).
Marketing beta testing
Marketing beta testing is all about getting media attention focused on your new app.
This kind of testing helps you evaluate both the product itself and the extent to which your marketing channels can successfully get recognition for the product.
Also, marketing beta testing helps to show whether prospective customers’ interest in the product is fleeting or consistent. That’s a great indicator of what your app retention statistics are going to look like when the app does release.
If promising leads lose interest before the app is even made available, then the app doesn’t have enough appeal and will likely not have good retention levels. That’s a really useful factor to know about ahead of time, especially considering how low retention rates can fall within mere weeks of release:
Optimizing your marketing doesn’t guarantee instant retention boosts, of course. What it does ensure, though, is that you know your app’s purpose and audience aren’t the problem, meaning you can narrow down which things are keeping customers from engaging more quickly.
What is the difference between alpha testing and beta testing?
Alpha and beta testing are distinct, but similar, steps in the testing process. We already know what beta testing is, so let’s start by defining alpha testing before we compare the two.
An alpha test is performed before beta testing can take place. It’s a type of acceptance test that’s done with the aim of finding as many bugs as possible before the product is seen by end users in the beta phase.
Unlike beta testing, the alpha phase relies on internal testing. That means that members of the company that developed the app take part in the testing process, rather than outsourcing testing to external users. However, alpha testers shouldn’t be directly involved in the software development of the product they’re testing.
Alpha testing aims to simulate the way real users would interact with the software by using both white-box and black-box testing techniques.
Now that we know what alpha testing is, let’s look at what separates it from beta testing.
The biggest difference lies in the makeup of the testing teams. Alpha testing uses company employees, while beta testing asks end users to act as testers.
That also means that while alpha tests can be conducted on-site, beta tests happen at the location of the end users that are testing the software. In other words, while alpha testing happens within a specialized testing environment, beta testing does not.
In short, the difference between alpha and beta testing is very similar to that between in-house and crowdtesting.
Advantages of alpha testing and beta testing
Simulates post-launch conditions while still in the pre-launch phase, allowing developers to make necessary changes before end users see the product
Lets companies test products in a real environment, with all unpredictable variables included, so they can gauge whether the software holds up in those conditions
Lets developers catch bugs early on, which helps them to stop those bugs from taking over and ruining both the software and the user experience
Allows users to report rare bugs that only appear under conditions that would be difficult to predict or simulate
Gets feedback from testers to developers quickly, meaning that known issues can be resolved faster
Gets real user feedback to developers, meaning that they have a chance to hear directly from their customers
Uses both black-box testing and white-box testing
Uses exclusively black-box testing
Often takes place over the course of a long execution cycle, meaning that testers have time to really dig into the software and purposely root out bugs
Often takes just a few weeks to execute effectively, meaning that feedback arrives quickly and the release cycle gets sped up
Helps developers address issues immediately, ensuring that those issues aren’t present in the beta version that’s presented to the next round of testers
Lets developers gather feedback to implement in later versions of the software, ensuring quality updates can happen continuously
When is beta testing used?
Beta testing always happens after alpha testing, which in turn takes place after various other tests have already happened. There are a few more specific situations that call for beta testing. We’ve put together five of the most common ones below.
When you need to collect qualitative data about your users
Your target users’ typical interaction patterns aren’t always going to be intuitive. However, if you want to successfully target your products to those users, you’ll need to know about those patterns and adjust the software accordingly.
A great way to bridge that gap is by collecting qualitative data during a beta test.
This is especially effective when you use an open beta model. That way, you’ll gather greater quantities of data, which will allow you to draw more accurate conclusions about usage patterns
When you want to market your product using influencers
The vast majority of marketers find influencer marketing to be either very effective, or effective. That means it’s a great marketing niche for you to use to raise brand awareness and prove to your stakeholders that you can increase your profits when the app is properly launched.
That’s where beta testing—especially of the marketing variety—comes in.
You can choose to release your beta version as an “exclusive sneak peek” into your new software. That way, influencers can build hype for it among their followers, which ensures you get both marketing value and end user feedback from this beta test.
When you want to test new features
Beta testing isn’t only for new products.
If you’ve got an existing piece of software that you’re looking to update with a fresh new feature, you can choose to release that feature only to select users. That way, you can beta test the new feature while also checking for compatibility with the existing product.
Testing individual components this way helps with trying to appropriately adjust your tech budget, since you’ll be able to root out problems before the general public has access to your tech.
When you want to gauge when the software will be ready
It’s not always easy to accurately gauge when a piece of almost-complete software will be ready for the transition to becoming fully ready. Beta testing can help with this.
When the software is nearly complete but likely to be riddled with unknown (or even known) bugs, you can start a beta test to get an accurate estimate of how long it’ll take before it can be released.
Incidentally, this is also a great way to achieve 5 star reviews, since you’ll be able to root out the most important bugs before offering the product to your customers.
When you need to test the system’s stability
As we’ve mentioned already, alpha testing can’t always adequately simulate the conditions of real-world use. That’s why it’s a good idea to use beta tests to evaluate how stable the system is when it’s used regularly by a lot of people.
If your system can handle the kind of load that open betas bring, then it’s highly likely to be stable enough to release to the general public.
How to perform beta testing
As it turns out, beta testing is quite easy to perform. All you need to do is follow these five simple steps.
Before you get started with your betas, you’ve got to take the time to do some test planning.
It’s important to know ahead of time how many people are going to be involved in your beta test and which type of beta testing you’re going to use. Consider whether an open or closed approach suits your needs better, as well as how long you’re going to run the test for.
You’ll also want to establish the parameters within which the testing is going to take place. The better your grasp on the framework you’ll be using, the easier it’ll be to ensure you stay within it during the testing itself.
As a bonus, you’ll also be able to clearly outline the process to your testers.
1. Recruiting participants
In the previous step, you’ll have determined how many users you’re going to need to look for and whether they need to belong to particular groups (such as tech-savvy people). Now it’s time to actually recruit those people.
Where you search for your participants depends on whom you’re trying to recruit.
Influencers, for example, would be easiest to find on Instagram, TikTok and similar social media platforms. Tech-savvy people would likely gather on relevant forums. Regardless of where you search for your participants, this stage allows you to ensure that you can achieve diversity in your testing groups so that you cover all bases and accurately represent your user base.
Something to bear in mind during this step is that it’s vital to send out invitations early. That helps you figure out how many participants you’ll have and lets you prepare for cancellations well ahead of time.
2. Launching products
As you beta-launch the product you’re testing and distribute it to your testers, you’ve got to ensure that those testers have an excellent experience. This will motivate over 80% of them to spread the good impression that their “job” with your company left them with to their friends and family, letting you get some free word-of-mouth marketing.
In terms of the technicalities of actually launching your software to your beta testers, the best approach is to share a link with them so they can download the product at their convenience.
If it’s a mobile app you’re testing, you’ll want to make sure it’s compatible with multiple operating systems (including Android OS and iOS). It should also be available in both the App Store and the Google Play Store, in the case of an open beta.
As you’re contacting your participants, make sure they’re aware of what you need from them. Are you looking for a lot of feedback or more passive user testing? Do they need to fill out surveys? Let them know of these things in advance so they can prepare adequately.
3. Collecting and analyzing feedback
This step is incredibly important in terms of its potential to take the quality of both your product itself and your product development cycle to the next level. It’s all about gathering feedback and then analyzing and, crucially, responding to it.
Industry leaders respond to feedback quickly, making changes as per customers’ comments and ensuring those customers feel heard. That’s why the top 10% of businesses reply to reviews faster than anyone else.
In the case of beta testing, you can consider the feedback you receive from your testers to be a substitute for the reviews they’d otherwise leave on your finished product and apply the same principle.
Responding to feedback with improvements and bug fixes shows your beta testers that you care about their opinions and experiences, which improves their impressions of your brand.
Of course, there’s more to this stage than only responding to feedback. There will also be lots of data to gather, whether continuously throughout the process or all at once when the beta test closes. Either way, you’ll need to analyze all the data you gather so you can make improvements accordingly.
The data and feedback you gather here can be hugely valuable in helping you improve the quality assurance process for future products, so you can implement fixes more efficiently and impress your customers even more.
All good things must come to an end. Your beta tests are no exception. At a certain point, each of your app’s features will work as intended and no new bug reports will come in. That’s when it’s time to close the beta testing phase.
At this point, the most important thing is to pay close attention to the plan you’d laid out in the first step. Did you promise your beta testers any rewards or incentives? Make sure you honor those promises, as well as thanking them for their help.
Treating your beta testers well lets you develop a good relationship with them, which encourages them to continue interacting with your brand. It might even incentivize them to beta test again for you in the future.
What is beta testing software?
We’ve established what a beta test is and how it can help you improve the quality of your software-based products. We’ve also seen that there are several ways to go about running a beta test.
What we haven’t covered is how you can use specialized beta testing software like that provided by Global App Testing to improve the way you conduct your beta testing.
Beta testing software collects your testers’ feedback for you in real-time, ensuring you’ve got all the bug reports, user suggestions and survey responses you need at your fingertips. It can also help you with the recruitment process. Additionally, it can turn the raw data it helps collect into useful graphs and charts, ensuring you can move straight into interpreting it.
In short, the best beta testing software products are highly customizable testing tools that assist you at every step of the testing process.
Why do you need beta testing software?
Beta testing software measures all the important metrics for you, taking the process of getting customer validation to the next level and making it quick and easy to improve your apps.
That’s especially important in today’s era, when app users simply don’t have time for poor quality—and are happy to announce as much, as you can see from the recent decline in app ratings in the App Store.
With beta testing software, you get to put the management of your beta testing in the capable hands of specially-designed tools that streamline the process. You get to keep your app retention rates from falling, since the software flags up bugs before they become a problem. You also get to reap the other benefits of using beta testing, only without expending extra effort.
Must-have features of beta testing software
Each individual beta testing software tool you try out is going to be subtly different. However, one thing they should all have in common is that they should give you access to these ten must-have features.
In other words, any beta testing software should:
- Capture user feedback, including user bug reports, comments, recommendations, complaints, and survey responses
- Let users run tests on both the whole product, and on specific features within it
- Support cross-platform testing by supporting mobile and desktop users, regardless of which operating systems or browsers they’re using
- Help developers recruit testers directly from within the app
- Let users access the product so the tests can take place
- Prioritize issues to keep unexpected delays at bay
- Provide various installation options so anyone who needs to, can use it
- Be highly scalable to ensure that companies of all sizes can make use of it
- Offer analytics that make it easier to interact with all the data that’s being collected
- Connect testers with their rewards to build up a good relationship with testers and improve the company’s brand image
Benefits of using beta testing software
When you use beta testing software, you get to automate the parts of testing that would otherwise be time-consuming. Examples include participant recruitment, data collection, data processing and filtering user feedback, among others.
This makes it a lot easier to draw more customers to your app, since the app’s quality can easily jump thanks to the streamlining that the software offers.
In short, beta testing software takes a lot of the hard work out of managing this testing phase and makes it simple and smooth for you.
What is Global App Testing?
Global App Testing, or GAT for short, is an end-to-end software testing and QA solution. It helps developers with all their functional app testing needs, so they can test their products quickly, accurately and effectively.
A major advantage of GAT is that it supports your teams through every testing stage, even beyond beta testing. Whether you’re still trying to plan how you’re going to structure your testing framework, about to start executing the beta testing phase or are looking to analyze the results of a testing phase, GAT has you covered.
In other words, it helps you take your apps from “good” to “amazing” in no time. Aside from improving the usability of apps, it also boosts their value in the eyes of investors and customers. At the same time, GAT helps your teams guarantee that the development process runs smoothly throughout.
Why do you need Global App Testing?
- GAT is a leading company in the world of tech testing, meaning you get access to top-of-the-line software to help with your beta testing process.
- Testing is quick and efficient with GAT, allowing you to move through the development process rapidly.
- Remote work is easy when you rely on GAT as your beta testing platform, since it lets you work effectively and efficiently from anywhere.
- GAT helps you elevate your product quality, meaning you get to deliver better software to your customers and boost your bottom line.
- Companies like LiveSafe rely on GAT to ensure their software stays safe and secure, which shows how high GAT’s security standards are.
- If you’re looking for ways to implement automation in your beta testing process, GAT can help you with this.
- GAT helps you empower your teams by delivering the right data and information to the right people, meaning bug fixes happen faster and teamwork is smoother.
Why choose Global App Testing?
Global App Testing contains all the features you need in a beta testing software solution—we’ll cover some of the most helpful and important ones in the section below, right before covering all the great integration options GAT provides its users with.
In other words, if you’re already considering partnering with a QA solution, GAT is the ideal choice. It’s efficient, streamlined and highly versatile. Best of all, it’s a fantastic tool to support and empower your teams through every step of the testing process.
Global App Testing features and capabilities
The Global App Testing platform comes with lots of features and capabilities that help make your beta testing process more efficient. Some of the most important ones are:
- Easy test management through GAT’s user-friendly interface that lets you create and manage tests in one place—as well as execute tests using over 50,000 professional testers
- Quick test execution, with an average test case turnaround time of 60-150 minutes
- 24/7 access so you can run continuous, on-demand tests as and when you need to
- In-app results and analysis that makes it easy to take the raw data and process it into user-friendly formats for quick analysis
Global App Testing integrations
Another major advantage of GAT is that it offers many different useful integrations that can improve your beta testing experience in various different ways. These are some of the top integrations that GAT provides.
- GitHub lets you directly export your bugs into its platform, where you can fix and patch them as necessary.
- Jira makes it easier for your teams to manage the planning stages of the testing phase, as well as letting you track your progress in real-time.
- Azure DevOps is an agile platform that makes crowdsourcing a cinch, making it great at managing open betas.
- Pivotal Tracker is another great bug tackling platform that helps cross-functional teams address any software issues your testers encounter.
- Trello helps you export bugs straight into the boards your teams will use to fix them, which helps those teams work more collaboratively together.
- DoneDone tracks bugs and issues easily with a simple, user-friendly UI that you can export your bugs directly into.
GAT also gives you access to integrations like sprintly, Basecamp and Asana. These are incredibly useful team management tools that make the entire development process run more smoothly, helping you manage workflows and team-based projects alike.
Beta testing is all about exposing your software to real end-users, who then let you know how their experience with it goes. They also report any bugs or errors they encounter. These things help your development team make last-minute tweaks and fixes, so the final product gets to the highest possible quality before the full launch.
It’s no exaggeration to say that beta testing is crucial to the development process.
With beta testing, developers get to gauge how their future customers will respond to their product. They also have the chance to test their software in a realistic context to see whether it can handle the load that regular, everyday use brings with it.
In short, beta testing is very important to your quality assurance process. By opting to use beta testing software, you can streamline the entire beta phase. This kind of software exists to help you recruit testers, record data and act on user feedback.
Global App Testing is an example of one of the best beta testing solutions you can use to upgrade your QA process. It makes everything about beta testing easier for you, while also ensuring you can scale your testing as needed.