When you make a new site, the last thing you want to do is take it online before it’s been tested. The goal is to create a beautiful site that works as it should and offers an amazing user experience. That’s why you beta test before taking the site live.
If you’re not completely sure what beta testing is, read on. We’ve created this guide to walk you through the difference between beta and alpha testing and more. Let’s get started!
What is Beta Testing?
Beta testing is the systematic method used to evaluate a product (such as a website) before releasing it to the market. The process uses a group of target users (similar to your target audience) to go through and use the product, and then offer feedback on how to fix any inconsistencies or issues.
When it comes to web design, beta testing is similar to product beta testing in that beta users ensure all aspects of the site work. They also work to find any issues that could cause site visitors problems with functionality or UX.
Alpha Testing Vs Beta Testing
So, what’s the difference between alpha testing and beta testing? Alpha testing is the testing phase that comes before beta testing. This is the first evaluation of the site where problems are found and fixed. This is the rough draft of your site. Most sites at this stage may have limited features and usually have bugs and other issues.
During the alpha testing phase, developers, designers, and QA specialists do the testing. They simulate the behaviour of real users as they test different aspects of the site. Assessments are done with the black box and white box tests to find the problems in the design.
Black box testing is something like a blind test where the tester is not familiar with the build of the site. On the other hand, with white box testing, the tester is a person who has knowledge of the build.
When alpha testing is completed, it’s time to move on to beta testing. In the beta testing phase, the website is almost ready to release and is the more polished version of the website. Beta testing uses external users to evaluate how the product will work for end users.
Beta testers don’t have any experience with the build of the website and are members of your target audience. These testers evaluate the site’s performance in real-world scenarios.
Before starting beta testing, it’s essential to have done alpha testing first. This will result in a more stable version of the site without most of the glitches that existed in the alpha testing phase. Your site should also have all the features site users will find when the website goes live.
Beta testing is a way web designers can gain a better understanding of the user journey as they navigate through a site. You’ll have a chance to analyse beta testers’ behaviours with the site and if they’re using the site as you thought they would.
This testing phase offers information on where users click, how they move between website pages, where they stop to read, and more. And if users aren’t visiting the places you wanted them to, this could be a sign it’s necessary to revise the UX of the site.
Types of Beta Testing
There’s more than one way to beta test websites, including:
Traditional beta testing: a closed or private beta test where the product is released only to a chosen group of users within the target market. Some companies may invite users to sign up for beta tests via a landing page, through email marking, or through referral programs. When the test is complete, the company checks users’ evaluations of the site and uses this information to make needed improvements.
Public beta testing: access to the site is distributed to an internal group within the organisation. This type of testing is used to find bugs so testers can provide reports to the engineering and development teams.
Focused beta testing: the website may be released to the target market so they can evaluate a specific feature. This may involve users testing specific aspects of the site rather than the entire site.
Post-release beta testing: is beta testing that is done after the website is released to the public. A company may choose post-release beta testing to see if the website fits the market. This is not as crucial as other types of beta testing; however, it can still help a company evaluate how the site is used in real-time. If issues are found, the company can create updates and improvements in future versions of the site.
Marketing beta testing: this type of beta testing involves obtaining media attention for the website and evaluating the efficiency of the company’s marketing efforts. This type of testing can provide you with an understanding of the public response to the site, learn which marketing channels are most effective, and improve the site’s content.
How to Beta Test Your Site
Before you even beta test your site, it’s imperative to ensure the site is ready. The site should be complete or just about complete. There should be no major crashes and the site should also include the essential features planned for the site.
It’s also essential to have a good understanding of your target audience because these are the people who will be testing and reviewing the site. If these things are done, you’re ready for beta testing!
Here are the steps you need to follow in beta testing:
1. Define Your Goals
Beta is a methodical process that needs a very defined approach before starting. It’s imperative to have goals for what will be evaluated, rather than gaining general feedback from beta testers. The goal is to focus on specific parts to test.
When you have definite goals, it’s also easier to create a logical plan and determine the time frame, budget, and number of beta testers needed.
2. Determine the Testing Period
It’s also necessary to determine how long the beta test runs. This may depend on the project deadline, budget, and goals. Keep in mind that if the testing period is too long or short, the test results may not be accurate. Most beta tests run between 4 to 8 weeks, which is usually plenty of time to find issues.
3. Gather Testers
Having the right beta testers is also important. Test participants need to be part of your target audience, and they need the right skills to use the site.
In addition to these main rules, be sure to provide clear guidelines and instructions. This ensures the beta test finds the information needed. Be sure to ask participants about specific elements of web design to see if the site measures up.
When the beta test is over, it’s time to collect feedback from the beta testers. This can be done through automated data collection and in-person communication. The key is to encourage beta testers to be open and honest with their feedback, whether it’s negative or positive.
Summing it Up
Beta testing is a valuable tool for web developers and designers, which can be used on apps, software, and websites. This is a great way to ensure your product meets the needs of your target market before the product is released. Beta testing gives you the ability to find and fix issues before the site or product is used in the real world.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.