Why You Should Care About Mobile App Beta Testing as a Startup Owner


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Bohdan Vasylkiv


Obviously, ahead of publishing an app to the app store, you must perform the app testing phase. However, it may seem more challenging than it is. As a matter of fact, there are many different types of testing and possible approaches to how exactly to perform an app testing process.

For instance, let’s consider one of the most popular testing approaches, beta testing, figure out what is it, try to find out how to beta test apps, and what are the best practices for beta testing.

What is Mobile App Beta Testing?

To cut a long story short, there are two main types of testing: Alpha and Beta. They include other testing practices and methods. What is the distinction between Beta and Alpha testing types?

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To make it simple, alpha testing is performed by the development group before an app is pushed live, i.e. during the app production and before you publish an app to the app store.

At the same time, beta testing takes place after the application was published and is performed by the users, not the developers. However, this is rather a common practice, not a rule. To rephrase it, the main difference lies in the environment, where the testing is performed.

Alpha testing mainly aims to find potential security threats or other vulnerabilities on the code level, within the whole programming or code infrastructure. For instance, it includes testing for OWASP vulnerabilities list or potential errors within the code itself. In other words, alpha testing is mainly covering the application infrastructure.

Beta testers, on the other hand, are taking care of the user interfaces and work within the user environment, trying to define possible loopholes or bugs, accessible by regular users. The bug hunting process is an example of best practices for beta testing.

Also, the difference between the alpha and beta approaches is that during the mobile application beta testing phase development team can attract third parties like volunteers or use such instruments as users’ feedback in order to improve some of the services or features, fix the bugs, optimize an app, etc. Clearly, it is impossible to engage such third parties, when it comes to the code level, because it will increase the danger to the overall security of an app, so the alpha testing is performed by dedicated teams only.

How to Conduct Beta Testing Phase

Choose the Nature of Beta Testing

First of all, you will need to decide what the access level will be. Usually, beta testing is divided into open and closed ones:

  • The open app beta testing phase is accessible to all real users, regardless of their status within the company. In other words, to take part in such testing, all you need to do - is to download or use the app, giving valuable feedback on the bugs or performance issues to the developers.
  • The closed beta testing strategy is the complete opposite of the foregoing. So, the internal testing team consists of users, who were approved and gained access to the testing process. It can include access to special beta versions of an app, giving access to the app itself, or to the features, which are not published yet or may include some extra credentials like access to some development tools, admin console, etc.

Define Your Target Audience

Frankly speaking, it is rather a part of the project planning and estimation step, not the app testing. However, it is important to include the context of your targeted audience in order to define the users' expectations and other related aspects. For instance, you will have to define what platforms or mobile device OS you should test, how old or new these real devices are, etc. Clearly, the same applications can and most probably will have different interfaces and features, which directly depend on the system preferences, specifics, and software versions. This is especially important in cases when you plan to make an app both for Android and iOS.

Depict Clear Expectations to the Beta Testers

Don’t forget, that your developers already faced some issues during the app production. So, it is preferable to talk with your development team first and define the most common bugs or issues you are aware of, as well as clarify the aspects, which were not covered enough.

Therefore, having such a list, you can create more specific requirements for the testers, and ask them to pay attention to some possible specific issues, that may occur. Clearly, such type of testing is a very complex and scalable process, which may be conducted while your developers are fixing some of the known vulnerabilities. For instance, the mobile app beta testing process can take place in parallel with bug fixes simultaneously with application optimization. So, you can slightly guide your beta testers and inform them of bugs, which they can ignore, because the team is taking care of them, making the overall app testing phase more efficient.

Set Up a Guideline for Beta Testers

Clearly, beta testing is a process of polishing the raw product. Therefore, it is better to create a guideline or employee handbook, just like in the case of onboarding a developer to the project or during the bug-hunting process.

In this documentation, you will have to give an example of how exactly to report a bug or other issues. When it comes to testing and further fixing, it is highly important to specify the faced issues as detailed as possible, so that developers could recreate it by themselves and define whether it is a bug and what is the best way to fix it. Clearly, a general description is by far not enough for a clear understanding of the whole situation.

In other words, your potential testers should make detailed bug reports, which will be convenient for your developers to repeat all the actions and recreate the same bug. Moreover, to make it more convenient for further fixing, it is better to standardize the process of reporting. For illustration, the beta testing feedback template should include:

A step-by-step tutorial on how the tester faced the reported issue What functionality or features were affected by the bug

Describe some extra details or possible specifics, related to the bug The foregoing is just a brief and general list, which includes only the most essential aspects worth covering. Still, such testing documentation may vary, depending on the requirements of your organization or developers' desires.

Why Mobile App Beta Testing Matters for Startups

Plainly speaking, the app testing phase matters regardless of the application nature, or how scalable the business is. Clearly, it is a vital step, which helps to improve the actual user experience of any application, making it better and more efficient.

However, it is an essential action, which must be taken when it comes to startups and mobile applications. The reasons are quite simple and obvious: publishing a product, developed by a startup is a one-way ticket, it will either succeed or bury the business. The mobile nature of an app brings extra challenges like the previously mentioned differences between different mobile platforms. To cut a long story short, any startup owner wants to ensure that the product is ready for going live before publishing an app to the app store. So, beta testing helps to polish and check the overall user experience and fulfillment once again. It helps not only to detect various bugs but to ensure the overall application performance and make sure that everything works as it was designed to.

Real-life Example

To add some more, it is a very powerful approach, beloved not only among startups but the gigantic corporations from different fields of software development. For example, publishing games in terms of the beta test has already become a common practice in the modern GameDev community. It is considered a win-win strategy for both developers and players because players are able to get a chance of playing the game earlier, and developers can gather all needed data on bugs or lack of performance during the game, fixing everything before the actual release. To illustrate how well-spread practice it is, you can google for the number of beta players or a list of such games with early access at the moment.

According to Statista, from 2014 to 2017 more than 13.2 million testers played the beta version of Battlefield 1 game, doing this freely and paying the full price for the game. In other words, app beta testing is not only a great possibility to get a big number of engaged users and testers to support the development but is much cheaper than other testing practices, which is great news for startups as well.

How to Find Dedicated Beta Testers

Eventually, before actually conducting mobile app beta testing, you will need to find the right testing team, which will meet all your requirements. Yet, hiring and finding beta testers is not such a difficult task in most cases. Instead, it might be a real challenge to find an experienced quality assurance team, which will be able to take care of all the app production processes that precede the app beta testing phase.

As was mentioned before, alpha testing is as important as beta. In fact, it covers more technical aspects of the project and only after it is finished, it is possible to proceed to further testing procedures.

One of the best such testing practices is to perform technical testing and quality assurance during application production. As a matter of fact, it is both one of the best practices and one of the most common standards for today.

Judging from our experience, the beta mobile app testing phase will be cheaper, faster, and much easier if the app development cycle was accompanied by testing at the very beginning. Thus, our software development process approach includes not only a full-fledged dedicated software engineering team and project manager, but quality assurance specialists in the first place as well. In other words, apart from the development services, Inocra also proposes a QA team as a default option in any agreement.

This allows us not only to satisfy our customers' needs but to embody as high-quality software products as possible. For a better illustration of our experience, we encourage you to check some of our case studies, or directly contact us in case you have any further questions or are eager to collaborate.

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What is mobile app beta testing?

Mobile app beta testing refers to the process of releasing a pre-launch version of your mobile application to a selected group of external users for testing and feedback. It allows you to gather valuable insights, identify and fix bugs, and make improvements before the official release.

Why should I as a startup owner care about beta testing?

How can beta testing save costs and resources?

How do I conduct a successful beta test for my mobile app?

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