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13 Expert Tips For Ensuring A Successful Beta Test

13 Expert Tips For Ensuring A Successful Beta Test


When development teams have spent months building a new tech product or feature for the market, they’re likely fully aware of, and sold on, its capabilities and value. But that’s not enough. To ensure a newly developed tech product or service will really solve a problem or substantially improve a process—and therefore be a hit in the market—you have to put it in the hands of the people it’s intended for.

A beta test is a great way for a development team to learn about how their new product or feature will perform in real-world circumstances. Feedback from diverse testers can verify the product’s readiness for the market—or provide essential guidance for needed refinements. Below, 13 members of Forbes Technology Council share best practices for successful beta testing.

1. Conduct Several Rounds Of Testing

It is critical to conduct several rounds of usability testing and product development during beta testing. This iterative process should continue until the product is deemed to be efficient, effective and satisfactory. With advancements in prototyping and remote testing platforms, we can now bring the virtual usability lab to the real world and develop products faster and cheaper than ever before. – Meshari F. Alwashmi, Ph.D., BreatheSuite

2. Test With Diverse Audience Segments

Beta testing is a helpful method for getting feedback from real-world users. An important factor and best practice is to conduct beta testing with a mix of different, diverse audience segments so that the feedback you receive can help you improve the product for different user experiences. Users’ demographics need to be analyzed early, before pushing the product to the beta testing phase. – Bhagvan Kommadi, Quantica Computacao


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3. Let Your Current Customers Try Out New Products Or Features

The key to getting excellent beta test feedback is to allow potential customers to give your product a try. We send beta features to active customers to try right before they go live. I find customers’ input extremely helpful because they are the ones who will use it every day in real-world situations. We use what we learn to tune our product so it exceeds our customers’ expectations on launch day. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

4. Resist The Urge To Guide Users

A successful beta test must include substantial, non-led user feedback—and lots of it. Observe the users’ use and misuse of the product or service, and resist your urge to guide or be helpful. Most importantly, create a safe place for them to share their feedback, observations and wishes. – Olga V. Mack, Parley Pro

5. Avoid The ‘Hawthorne Effect’

If possible, avoid the “Hawthorne Effect”—a phenomenon in which people being observed act unnaturally. Simulate as much of the entire experience as possible, including treating the beta testers as “early adopters” and “first movers” as opposed to “beta testers.” – Frank Maggio, React LLC

6. Carefully Consider Success Criteria

Make sure that the success and evaluation criteria of the testing have been carefully thought through. For example, if you launch a new feature, it’s important to ensure that beta users find that feature and use it in the way you expect real-world users to find and use it—without your giving any extra help to the beta users. – Arvind Jain, Glean

7. Test The Assumptions Underlying The Problem You’re Solving

Determine how you’ll test the assumptions underlying the problem your offering solves. That way, you get to the offering’s market viability—it’s more like developing a minimum viable product. You can also more easily identify a specific test strategy to solidify the testing process. Consider whether you want to collect targeted feedback from a specific group or issue an open call to anyone who wants to try out the product. – Greg Coticchia, Sopheon

8. Consider Outsourcing Testing

Outsource the beta test execution to an agency or consultancy group, and allow them to run the experiment with complete independence. Doing so entails taking a bit more time to build the beta test brief and send RFPs to agencies in support, but we need our decisions to be free from bias, and if we run the test ourselves, we can’t help but entertain our own partiality. – Meagan Bowman, STOPWATCH

9. Encourage Testers To Try To Break The Workflow

You can’t afford to build solutions without getting hands-on feedback from end users as early as possible in the process. Keep your beta test group focused on really trying to break the workflow. Ask for defined feedback, and keep communication flowing. If you’re building an MVP, distinguish between core functionality and “nice to haves.” Resist the temptation to add more and more features too soon. – Ernie Bray, AutoClaims Direct Inc. (ACD)

10. Test How Valuable The Product Is To The Market

Don’t just focus on quality and security. Is the product viable? Does it provide the level of customer value that you predicted when you funded the work? At this point, quality and security are expected by users, and you should not rely on customers to provide that for you. Testing how valuable your product is to the market is far more important. – Laureen Knudsen, Broadcom

11. Have The Testers Use The Product As They Would In Real Life

You must excel at two things in order to successfully pass a beta test run. First, gather a proper testing audience, with members who represent your real users. Second, have them carry out the actual production tasks that will happen in real life, as opposed to following a predefined problem-to-solution sequence. – Andrei Kasyanau, Glorium Technologies

12. Build In A Feedback Loop System

The beta testing plan should include an inbuilt feedback loop system. This means the feedback received from the beta testers needs to be validated, prioritized, implemented and available for the beta testing team to complete the testing. If certain feedback items are not prioritized and implemented, it is important to share that with the beta testers and listen to their perspectives for future priorities. – Selva Pandian, DemandBlue

13. Don’t Beta Test—Deploy ‘Real’ Products As Quickly As Possible

In my close to 40 years of software development, I’ve never seen a beta program work effectively. I think beta testing is an outdated holdover from waterfall development. Instead, I recommend an agile approach of deploying a “real” minimum viable product into production as fast as possible. Deliver early, get feedback from real users and use that information to guide future development. – Dave Todaro, Ascendle



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