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A Look at Software Beta Testing

If you're a software developer, you know the role and importance of software beta testing. Learn more in the article below....
A Look at Software Beta Testing
Written by Brian Wallace
  • In the world of modern software development, it’s no surprise that continuous testing would be an essential part of the software development life cycle especially to keep up with the many products out there in the market.

    Quality is one of the most important factors to achieve customer satisfaction and to build high quality software, this software needs to be continuously tested to make sure that it works as expected.

    Thus, many types of tests will be conducted along the software development process. Here, we will focus on one type of testing that occurs towards the end of this process: beta testing.

    What is beta testing?

    Beta testing is a type of testing whose aim is to check whether a software that is about to be released meets customer requirements.

    This is done by testing the software on a select number of users- beta users- in a live production environment to see how these users interact with the software and so that the development team can fix any issues that arise before doing a full release to the rest of the users.

    This type of testing also checks the reliability, security and functionality of the software and implements black box testing techniques, which mainly tests the software’s input and output functionality.

    Features of beta testing

    To better understand beta testing, we will list some of the most important features of this type of testing and what it entails:

    • Beta testing involves real users testing the product in a live production environment.
    • Users selected should be chosen to represent the target audience.
    • This ultimately helps minimize risk of product failure and improves product quality.
    • It occurs towards the end of the software development life cycle, when the product is almost ready.
    • This means the product should be stable enough and include all the features that are planned for the release.
    • It comes right after alpha testing, which is another type of testing to help validate the functionality of the release but the testers are internal users and not customers.

    Types of beta testing

    There are many types of beta testing but all have the purpose of improving the quality of the software being released, some of which are listed below:

    Closed vs open beta testing

    A closed beta test is when a select number of users are invited to participate in the beta test and so the number of testers is limited as it is not open to the public. Companies will need to do active research and recruitment of these users depending on the type of users they’re looking for.

    Meanwhile, an open beta test has no access restrictions, which means that anyone can sign up to test the beta product. As this test is wider in scope, it’s a great opportunity to collect quantitative data regarding your target audience and how they interact with your product.

    However, this can also make it harder to analyze the data when you have a large pool of users testing the product. Consequently, an open beta test may be time consuming.

    Technical beta testing

    In this scenario, beta users will consist of more tech savvy users with the goal to uncover more complex, technical issues that the average user may miss. These users would usually have more background and knowledge of the ins and outs of the software so that they can provide high quality feedback to the engineering team.

    Sometimes, these users could come from within the organization itself.

    Focused beta testing

    This type of beta test is focused on gathering feedback of a specific feature of the release, including key functionalities of the product.

    Post-release beta testing

    Here, the product is released to the market and feedback is collected for improving future releases.

    To sum up

    Beta testing is of great value during the software development process as it generates real time feedback from your most relevant users.

    This will result in better and improved products and hence greater customer satisfaction as you have the opportunity to optimize your releases based on your customers’ opinion.

    With beta testing, you basically minimize your blast radius so if anything goes wrong, only a few users are exposed to these bugs, which can be fixed for future releases of the product. What’s more, in the long run you will be releasing products that your customers actually like and need. Thus, beta testing has become a staple of modern software development.

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