Although the practice of beta testing has been around for quite a while, it has only recently started to gain traction and popularity. With the emergence of SaaS tools that facilitate the beta testing process, beta testing has become easier than ever and its adoption as a practice is rapidly increasing.
Due to their lack of experience, there are a few common mistakes these newly hatched beta programs might commit, limiting their success. In this post, we will take a look at some of the common pitfalls you might run into.
Beta Testing Mistakes
1. Lack of planning
It is not uncommon for developers to just push their beta app to testers and hope for the best. Without clear goals and a detailed plan for your beta test, you seriously limit the results of your beta test and miss out on a lot of valuable feedback and insights. Make sure your beta test has a solid plan and well-defined goals, and that the whole team is aligned on them.
2. Rushing QA testing
Beta testing is not a replacement for proper internal QA testing and optimally, dogfooding. QA teams and beta testers focus on different aspects of your app, both of which are important to enhance your app’s quality. If your beta build is too unstable or buggy, your testers will quickly abandon your app, leaving you with low participation and retention rates and little feedback. Moreover, the negative impression your app leaves will stay a while even after you fix its issues.
3. Not enough/too many beta testers
Statistically speaking, you gain more accurate results as your sample size increases. But remember that your team might not be able to manage 10,000 testers at once and all their valuable insights will just fall through the cracks.
On the other hand, recruiting only a handful of testers will cover a limited number of use cases and features, and issues will almost definitely slip through to production. Although this allows you to closely manage your testers and be responsive to their feedback, there simply isn’t enough of them to represent your audience.
Your sample size should be small enough to be easily manageable by your team, yet big enough to provide statistically significant results. For most apps, this means somewhere between 100-300 testers, with anything under 50 providing little to no results.
4. Beta testers don’t represent your target audience
After you decide on how many testers you will include, you need to determine the type of testers you recruit. Although testers who don’t belong to your target audience will still uncover bugs and provide feedback, their use cases will differ from your target audience and can mislead your product roadmap. Avoid this by making sure you recruit your beta testers from channels relevant to your target audience; find out where your target audience hangs out (whether virtually or physically) and reach out to them.
The target audience will differ with the type of the app and the goals of its beta test. Even within your target audience, there will be different user segments with different usage and opinions. Understand the beta testers you recruit for your test and make sure no segments are over-represented to avoid skewing your results.
“Get to know the users you add to your beta program. If you are going to build and iterate on products with their feedback in mind you need to understand who they are and if they represent your target audience.”Ashton Rankin, Product Manager, Kik
5. Lack of beta tester education
Beta testers, especially first-timers, might not be familiar with their responsibilities and your test’s goals. Prepare detailed, easily understandable guides and templates explaining their responsibilities and familiarizing them with the tools and channels you are using for your beta test.
6. Lack of beta tester engagement
Without responding to tester feedback and actively engaging with them, you will watch their active participation and engagement rates drop rapidly as they abandon your app. Make your testers feel valued and part of the “behind the scenes” development to increase their feeling of ownership and maintain their activity throughout the beta test. You can also use incentives to motivate your testers and show them your appreciation.
7. Ignoring usability bugs
Beta testing is a great way to uncover and fix technical issues in your app, but that isn’t their only strength. Limiting the scope of your beta test to technical issues and ignoring UI/UX and usability bugs, seriously limits its results. As a developer, you might attach a higher importance to technical bugs, but usability is just as important in the eyes of your users. This is especially important since engagement and retention are critical in the early stages of your app’s life.
8. Testing on limited devices and environments
Depending on the platforms you are developing for, your app might run on an infinite number of environments and configurations. Make sure to take this into account in the recruitment phase and include as many different environments as you can. Start with the most popular devices and OS versions then include as many configurations as you can afford.
9. Using the wrong tools for the job
The right tool does not mean the most sophisticated or expensive tool available, but rather the most suitable for your needs. E-mail and spreadsheets might be very effective with a small dedicated group of testers but will fall short as you scale your beta program. Similarly, a sophisticated beta management tool can be crucial for beta testing at scale but is massive overkill for smaller programs. Research the available tools and give them a try if possible to make sure they will meet your needs and serve you well.
10. Not defining and tracking metrics
When you conduct your beta test without identifying and tracking the metrics that indicate its health, you lose valuable insight about your app and testers. From the number of bugs reported to survey participation rates to time spent in app, the KPIs offer insights into the success of your beta test and the performance of your app. Identify these metrics before you start beta testing and make sure you have the right tools to track them.
How can Instabug help?
Instabug is the top beta testing tool for bug reporting and user feedback in mobile apps. It provides the most useful metadata on the market, exceptional customer support, and an in-app communication channel to chat with your beta testers.
Bug and Crash Reporting
With each report, you automatically receive comprehensive data to help fix issues faster, including steps to reproduce errors, network request and console logs, and environment details. For bug reporting, your beta testers can also send screen recordings and annotatable screenshots to provide further context.
In-App Surveys and Feature Request Management
Collect user feedback from your beta testers right inside your app to minimize interruptions and boost participation rates. Get powerful insights to enhance your product roadmap with surveys that you can target to specific tester segments and feature request voting to understand user pain points and desires.