What Is Beta Testing? (With Types And How To Perform)

Updated 31 July 2023

Beta testing is a type of user acceptance testing (UAT) that a development team implements before releasing a product to the market. This testing provides development teams with information to improve the overall functionality and performance and enhance the end-user experience. If you want to work on a software development team, understanding everything about beta testing can help in releasing error-free products.

In this article, we answer ‘What is beta testing?', explain its features, review the advantages and disadvantages, explore the types, highlight when to perform it, outline the difference between alpha and beta testing and review the steps to perform beta testing.

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What Is Beta Testing?

Knowing the answer to the question, ‘What is beta testing?' is essential to learn the scenarios where you can use it. Beta testing is a functional testing method that primarily involves testing systems or digital products, such as websites and applications, by real-life users and public members. During this testing, users interact with the product to determine its functionality. Typically, companies prefer conducting this testing outside of a dedicated testing environment to get accurate feedback on functionality, product design, quality and overall user experience.

Beta testing helps developers change a system based on feedback. It increases the chances of success in the consumer market. An organisation can conduct either an open or closed beta test. In an open test, anyone can use the product and the organisation leaves a message that the product is in the beta testing phase. In closed beta, only specific users can access the application or website.

Related: 7 Functional Testing Interview Questions (With Answers)

Features Of Beta Testing

Here are some features of beta testing:

  • An organisation conducts beta testing after alpha testing and before the product goes to the market.

  • Beta testing uses black-box testing techniques.

  • Users who are not a part of the company perform the beta testing.

  • As beta testing occurs in the user's location, it does not require a lab or testing environment.

  • This testing occurs in the absence of testers but in the presence of real users.

  • An organisation conducts beta testing for testing products, such as applications, operating systems and utilities.

Related: A Guide On Black Box Testing (With Types And Strategies)

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Beta Testing?

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of beta testing:

Advantages of beta testing

Here are some advantages of using beta testing:

  • Provides an overview of the product: When actual users test a digital product or website, it allows the development team to gain insights into a product's functionality, security and dependability. Knowing how the software behaves outside of the dedicated environment can help fix bugs that the team previously missed.

  • Gathers feedback from real users: Real users are likely to provide more accurate and objective feedback that can improve the user experience. As these individuals do not face implicit bias, they can provide accurate feedback.

  • Increases overall customer satisfaction rate: With beta testing, the development team gathers insight from multiple end-users, providing a 360-degree review of the product or website. Changes made because of customers' suggestions can improve customer satisfaction rates.

  • Helps understand the actual end-user experience, Beta testing occurs in an uncontrolled testing environment and provides a replica of the actual user experience. It helps understand whether users can access the digital product or system.

Related: How To Perform Manual Testing (With Types And Benefits)

Disadvantages of beta testing

Here are some disadvantages of using beta testing:

  • Not a systematic procedure: The error or bug reporting method is not proper and systematic.

  • Uncontrolled testing environment: As beta testing occurs in uncontrolled testing, it becomes challenging for the development team to reproduce the bug because the test environment differs from user to user.

  • Duplication of bugs: As different users can report the same bug, it results in duplication of bugs.

  • Results in negative publicity: If the product has too many bugs, it can cause negative publicity because the real user has no obligation to the development team.

Related: Usability Testing Tools: A Complete Guide (With Examples)

Types Of Beta Testing

Some types of beta testing are:

  • Traditional beta testing: An organisation delivers the product to the target market and collects user feedback. This testing focuses on improving the quality of the software and allows developers to make desired changes based on the feedback.

  • Public beta testing: In public beta testing, developers release the product through various online channels. Based on the feedback received, developers can improve the product.

  • Technical beta testing: In technical testing, the product gets delivered to the internal group of an organisation. After using the product, the employees provide data and feedback and the developers incorporate those changes.

  • Focused beta testing: In focused testing, the developer releases a product to the market and collects feedback on certain specific features. For instance, when developers want to test the important functionality of a product, they might use this testing.

  • Post-release beta testing: In this testing, developers release the product to the market for purchase. After the user uses the product, they collect data to improve the product's future releases.

Related: How To Conduct Smoke Testing (With Advantages And Tips)

When Do You Perform beta testing?

A developer performs beta testing after completing the alpha testing. Typically, you perform this testing before the product goes live and you expect the product to be stable enough to load on any platform. A checklist you can use before launching the beta testing is:

  • Each component of the product is ready for testing

  • Documentation for setup, installation, usage and uninstallation is ready

  • Product management team reviews that the functionality of the product is in good condition

  • Development team identifies the procedure to collect bugs and feedback

Related: What Is Unit Testing? Definition, Types, Pros And Cons

How Is Alpha Testing Different From Beta Testing?

Alpha testing precedes beta testing because, unlike beta testing, the alpha version is less stable and offers limited features. Typically, in-house developers, quality assurance professionals and designers complete the alpha testing phase. This type of testing uses black-box and white-box testing to discover potential bugs and system crashes. Interestingly, alpha testing occurs in a controlled environment, so developers can reach test participants and ask specific questions about their experience.

Beta testing uses black-box testing techniques, meaning users know nothing about the backend and source code. Unlike alpha testing, beta testing occurs in an uncontrolled environment and provides valuable insights into the product's functionality.

Related: What Is White Box Testing? (With Types And Advantages)

How To Perform Beta Testing?

Here are a few steps you can use to perform beta testing:

1. Create a plan

The first step in the beta test is creating a plan. During this phase, determine the duration of conducting the beta testing and the goals you want to achieve. In your plan, ensure you know the number of users required to take part in the testing procedure.

2. Hire participants

Many participants can perform beta testing. Due to budget constraints, it is essential to set a minimum and maximum limit for the number of users taking part. Before hiring participants, use screening questionnaires to shortlist them.

3. Focus on product launch

After choosing the beta tester, send installation packages to them and share the link from where they can download and install the package. Focus on sharing product manuals, guides, information on the process and potential issues users might face. Before users test, share the feedback method with the testers.

4. Collect and evaluate feedback

Evaluate and incorporate the feedback to satisfy the end-user requirements and focus on managing bugs reported. The development team often considers improvements and suggestions for the product's future versions. After clarifying these issues, resolve them to make a product ready for launch.

5. Conclude the beta testing phase

When every feature and functionality of the product is working and the product is bug-free, focus on the exit criteria. It is essential to create exit criteria to decide the right time to conclude the beta testing procedure. Upon completion, distribute rewards or incentives to participants and maintain a cordial relationship with them.

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