How to Design a Successful Beta Version of Your Product
Any tech product undergoes many stages of development, from idea generation to the final launch. Before a flawless version is released, developers should test whether it’s usable, compatible, functional, and reliable. This testing, dubbed the beta version, is an excellent way to evaluate the product, receive customers’ feedback, and make amendments if needed. This article discusses how to develop a successful beta version of the product that will add value and help the team achieve perfection.
What Is Beta?
A beta version of a tech product (e.g., software, Saas, etc.) is a version that is good enough to be used but not perfect enough to be released to the wider community. In turn, beta testing is the assessment of a beta version of the product using a limited sample of the target audience. This process aims at identifying bugs and technical flaws that need to be addressed before the final launch. It also helps gain a general understanding of how users interact with the product.
Running a beta test has many benefits, such as:
- Establishment of contact with potential customers
- Uncovering usability issues and bugs
- Conducting security and reliability evaluation
- Building public awareness
Beta-testing should be distinguished from alfa testing, as the latter is conducted by team members. Alfa tests may be biased, as team members do not always see the product with fresh eyes. Moreover, employees are more skilled and knowledgeable, so their feedback does not generalize well to the wider population.
Components of Successful Beta Version
Creating a good beta version of your product is harder than you may think. You need to have a comprehensive strategy and plan to make it meaningful and useful. Your strategy should include the following aspects:
- Business goals
- Detailed schedule
- Testing approach
- Tools for assessing the usability and collecting opinions
- Rewards for testers, etc.
In other words, you cannot create a good beta version and benefit from it unless you know exactly what you are doing, how, and why.
As for the beta testing plan, it needs to be as specific as possible. Set clear objectives to clarify why the team creates beta and what they should strive to achieve. Then, identify the scope of testing by setting the boundaries and specifying areas of attention. For example, your beta testing may serve to evaluate how a specific feature works or collect general user feedback. Finally, create a schedule to ensure all stakeholders know when the testing will start and end. Setting time boundaries is important for making the process more focused and meaningful.
A successful beta version also depends on how well you structure the testing process. Pay attention to the stages listed below, as these are essential for all beta assessments.
As we mentioned above, planning and creating a strategy for beta testing are critically important for allocating resources wisely and taking advantage of pre-launch evaluation.
Your beta is meaningless without people. Beta testers are a small group of users invited to check out the new product and share their experiences. A medium-sized project will need up to 250-300 testers to collect enough data. You can use a variety of sampling strategies to form the required sample:
- Reach out to already existing clients
- Use social media ads
- Post ads on beta-testing websites
- Use blogs and guest posts
- Involve influencers
If you struggle with building a desired team of testers, try a time-tested snowball sampling technique used in scientific research. Ask people who have already consented to participate about recommending someone willing to contribute.
You need to know your product well for the beta product launch to succeed. Make sure you tested it diligently before presenting it to the testing group. It’s recommended to inform them about all known issues and bugs and outline the scope of testing. A good beta version also contains clear installation and use guidelines to make it easier for testers to jump in.
Next, excellent beta versions are impossible to imagine without a feedback system. Create a route for feedback to collect detailed data from testers on what they liked, what troubles they faced, and what they lacked in the beta edition. Questions you may ask include:
- What did testers complain about the most?
- Did they report problems with specific features?
- What did they like the most?
- What challenges did they face?
- What recommendations for improvement did testers provide?
Don’t forget that beta testers spend their time helping you, so respect their contribution by making feedback quick and easy. Use an efficient feedback management tool to collect user responses and organize the data for further analysis. Moreover, be patient, friendly, and supportive along the way. Your testers need to know that you appreciate their contribution. Otherwise, they won’t help you next time you launch a new product. A reward and incentive system is a good option to thank your testers. For instance, you may offer a discount or provide early access to the product when it’s ready.
Who Is Involved?
Beta testing is usually conducted by a product team consisting of developers, UI/UX designers, project managers, quality managers, and other professionals. To ensure your team knows what it does, find a reputable UX design firm with extensive experience in beta testing.
Of course, the main stakeholders are testers. These people want to use the final product and may benefit from it. For example, if you developed a SaaS for project managers, your testers should be project managers who can become your main clientele.
You may feel like you are walking in the dark when you create a beta version of your product. Too many doubts, issues, and ambiguities slow down the process. However, if you set clear goals and plan this process in detail, beta-testing will not be a problem. Consider every small detail, such as participants, feedback collection, the scope of testing, deadlines, etc. In other words, make this process controlled and purposeful. You will create a beta that can bring you one step closer to a perfect product by following these best practices.