Testing your product is a critical step in the development process of any product, especially in the realm of technology. Without it, you risk releasing a subpar product that doesn’t meet customer expectations. This is where beta testing comes in.
From software to video games to hardware products, beta testing allows developers and designers to work out the kinks and make necessary improvements before releasing their products to the general public. Today, beta testing is an essential part of any product development process, and there are several ways to test your software or technology product effectively.
But first, let’s take a closer look at what beta testing is and how it differs from alpha testing, another common type of user acceptance testing.
What is beta testing?
Beta testing is a form of user acceptance testing in which a beta version of the software is made available to select users outside the organization, developing it for real-world usage and feedback. Beta testing aims to get an early sense of how well the software performs in the wild and identify potential issues that need to be addressed before release.
It can be conducted in two ways:
- Closed beta testing: In closed beta testing, beta versions of the software are made available to a select group of users, usually within the organization developing it. This group comprises employees, power users, or others familiar with the product and can provide valuable feedback.
- Open beta testing: In open beta testing, beta versions of the software are made available to anyone interested in testing it. This is often done with web-based applications or products designed for a mass market.
Also, ensure that your beta version is stable enough to be used by testers without too many crashes or glitches. If your beta version is too unstable, it will be difficult for testers to provide helpful feedback.
How beta testing differs from alpha testing
On the other hand, alpha testing is a type of user acceptance testing in which a software product is made available to select users within the organization, developing it for feedback and real-world usage. The goal of alpha testing is similar to beta testing – identifying potential issues that need to be addressed before release.
However, alpha testing is conducted much earlier in the development process than beta testing. It usually takes place after the software has been developed and before it is made available to the general public. Additionally, alpha testing is conducted by employees, power users, or other individuals familiar with the product, not the general public.
To conduct alpha testing:
- Make sure your software is stable enough to be used by testers without too many crashes or glitches.
- You can either do closed or open alpha testing, depending on your product and beta testing goals.
- If you do open alpha testing, set up a system where you can track feedback and bugs reported by testers.
To summarize, while beta testing gathers insights on the software externally, alpha testing gathers testing on the software internally. An easy way to remember is that beta testing happens before release (before the “b” in beta), while alpha testing happens after development (after the “a” in alpha).
- Timing: Beta testing happens before release, while alpha testing happens after development.
- Goal: Beta testing aims to identify potential issues that need to be addressed before release. In contrast, alpha testing seeks to identify potential problems that need to be addressed during development.
- Users: Beta testing is conducted by the general public, while alpha testing is undertaken by employees, power users, or other individuals
Conducting either or both is paramount to releasing a high-quality software or technology product and a step in the design process that will benefit you and your customers in the long run.