What is Beta Testing?
Beta testing is the final round of testing before a product is finally released to a wide audience. The objective is to uncover as many bugs or usability issues as possible in this controlled setting.
Beta testers are “real” users and conduct their testing in a production environment running on the same hardware, networks, etc., as the final release. This also means it’s the first chance for full security and reliability testing because those tests can’t be conducted in a lab or stage environment.
Beta tests can either be open or closed. In an open beta test, anyone is able to use the product and is usually presented with some messaging that the product is in beta and given a method for submitting feedback.
In a closed beta, the testing is limited to a specific set of testers, who may be composed of current customers, early adopters and/or paid beta testers. Sometimes they are conducted by diverting a certain percentage of users to the beta site instead of the current release.
Types of beta testing
Below are a few common types of beta testing. Note that beta testing can include several different beta tests of different types.
Open Beta Testing
Open Beta Testing generally involves the testing of the software product by the large number of the people or target audience, before the final release. Organization decides to make software product open to public on any specific date before its release announcing that specific date.
This witnesses the large participation of the public to use and evaluate the software product and accordingly, report the bugs (if any found) to the organization, along with the suggestions in order to improve the software quality.
Closed beta testing
Closed beta version (also known as private beta) released to selected people who test its features. Usually, the number of test participants is limited.
For example, if you plan to ship a product on the market in the next few months and have a landing page that allows visitors to leave their emails in order to get the latest updates about the product, you can choose beta testers from people who signed up for product updates.
Closed beta tests are better suited for beta tests with a limited scope (only core features of the future product). And since the number of unique issues found by each tester decreases as the number of testers increase, it makes sense to limit the total number of test participants.
Technical beta testing
A technically focused beta test is beta testing with a group of tech-savvy users (usually, it’s an internal group in the organization). The goal of this testing is to uncover complex bugs and provide high-quality test execution reports to the engineering team.
The fact that tech-savvy test participants have a tolerance to minor issues makes the testing more focused. Test participants are more willing to complete the testing despite the problems they face along the way.
Focused beta testing
Focused beta testing is used when a product team needs to gather feedback on specific features. In order to collect the feedback, the team releases the product to the market.
Marketing beta testing
Marketing beta testing has a goal to get media attention for your product. Generally, this type of beta testing can help you evaluate your marketing channels. But it’s also possible to use beta testing to understand customer’s reactions to new product features. Some products like Instagram have both active goals in their marketing beta testing.
What is the Purpose of Beta Testing?
The main goal behind beta testing is to place the developed software application in the hands of the intended users under real-world environment & conditions, in order to evaluate and assess product from users-perspective, which may prove to be useful in exploring defects, that are not desirable in final release of the software product. Other features of beta testing are:
- Beta testing is carried out in real-environment at user’s site, thereby helps in providing a factual position of the quality.
- It is generally done for testing software products like utilities’, applications, operating systems, etc.
- Beta testing is also called as field testing and pre-release testing.
- Testing is performed by the client, the stakeholder and the end-users.
- It is done after alpha testing and before the actual market release of the software product.
- Unlike alpha testing, which is a type of white box testing, beta testing is always black box testing.
- Beta Testing is preceded by Alpha testing and followed by the release of the final product.
- Performed in the absence of testers and presence of users, just opposite to alpha.
- Unlike alpha testers who are highly skilled, beta testers may involve the participation of naïve personnel like end-users.
- Generally, reliability, robustness and security of the software application are being evaluated by the intended users.
- Most of the suggestion and improvement gets due for getting implemented in the next future version of the software.
What is a Beta Version of Software?
You all must be aware of beta versions of the software that are released to restricted numbers of user to accept their feedback and suggestion on the quality improvement. Therefore, given below are the two types of beta version releases:
Closed Beta Version:
Closed beta version, which is also known as private beta, is released to a group of selected and invited people, who test the software and evaluate its numerous features and specifications.
This beta version represents a software that is capable to deliver value, but is not ready to be used by everyone because of issues like lack of documentation or missing vital features.
Open Beta Version:
Open beta or public beta is opened to public. Any user as a tester can evaluate and assess the beta version to provide relevant feedback and reviews, in addition to detection of flaws(if any) to improve the quality of the final release.
Additionally, this version serves the dual purpose of demonstrating a product to potential customers and testing the software with the assistance of wide user based, which can help the team find various undetected errors and issues.
This releasing of beta version is oriented by the beta testing process.
Beta Test Plan
Beta Test Plan can be written in many ways based on the extent to which it is performed.
Here I am listing out the common items for any Beta Test Plan to include:
- Objective: Mention the objective of the project so as to why it is undergoing Beta Testing even after performing rigorous internal tests.
- Scope: Clearly mention what are the areas to be tested and what is not to be tested. Also mention any specific data to be used for a particular feature (say use test credit card for payment validations – Card no, CVV, Expiry Date, OTP, etc).
- Test Approach: Clearly mention whether the testing is exploratory, what to focus on – functionality, UI, response, etc. Mention the procedure to log bugs and also what all to provide a proof (Screenshots/Videos).
- Schedule: Clearly specify the Start and End Dates with time, number of cycles, and duration per cycle.
Tools: Bug logging tool and its usage.
- Budget: Incentives for bugs based on it severity
- Feedback: Collecting Feedback and Evaluating methods.
- Identify and review the Entry and Exit criteria.
- Alpha Testing should be signed off.
- Product’s Beta version should be ready and launched.
- User Manuals, Known Issues list should be documented and must be kept ready to be published.
- Tools to capture bugs, feedback should be ready and usage documentation should be published.
- No Showstopper bugs in any of the platform.
- All Major bugs discovered in Beta Test phase should be fixed.
- Beta Summary Report.
- Beta Testing Sign Off.
A strong Beta Test Plan and its effective execution it will result in the success of the testing phase.
How Beta Testing Works?
Being a tester, it is very important to understand the step by step procedure of how it is performed in the real environment before the actual release of the software products.
Step 1: Planning
Planning is the first and foremost step before the start of anything in the IT world. Proper planning is required defining the goals of testing with all the details like test management, number of participants involved in testing, time for the testing of an application, other important details regarding the application, etc.
Step 2: Recruitment (Participants)
Choosing the right people for beta testing is a very important phase. The number of participants involved in the testing varies from application to application and from the project budget.
Normally a company hires a range of 50-100 beta testers with varying domains so that they can test the application according to their perspective and helps in finding different hidden bugs.
Step 3: Release of Software Product
Software which needs to be tested is released to the beta testers to proceed for testing. Generally, a link is sent to the participants from where they can download the application or open it in the browser.
User manuals and other software documents are sent to the testers so that they can understand the application better. Bug logging templates are also shared with the testers to maintain consistency in all the logged bugs by different testers.
Step 4: Feedback Collection and Evaluation
Defects raised during the beta testing are reported to the development team for further evaluation and fixing which are then tested for the QA team before the patch.
Feedbacks are collected from the beta testers to improve the app according to the end-user viewpoint. Suggestions by the beta testers are collected for improvement in future releases.
Step 5: Closure
Beta testing comes to closure once all the features are working fine, fixed bugs are patched and application is good to release in the market for end-users. Decided Incentives and rewards are distributed to the beta testers and formal closure of the testing is done from both sides keeping good relations for the future.
Advantages of beta testing
- You have the opportunity to get your application into the hands of users prior to releasing it to the general public.
- Users can install, test your application, and send feedback to you during this beta testing period.
- Your beta testers can discover issues with your application that you may have not noticed, such as confusing application flow, and even crashes.
- Using the feedback you get from these users, you can fix problems before it is released to the general public.
- The more issues you fix that solve real user problems, the higher the quality of your application when you release it to the general public.
- Having a higher-quality application when you release to the general public will increase customer satisfaction.
- These users, who are early adopters of your application, will generate excitement about your application.
Disadvantages of Beta testing
- The bug reporting of the identified bugs is not proper and systematic.
- The testing and test environment is not well defined and under control of the development team. It is often hard to reproduce the bugs because the testing environment differs from user to user.
- There are a lot of duplicate bugs in beta testing.
- If there are a lot of issues, this can cause negative publicity of the product as the person testing the software are end-users only with no obligation to the development team.