Let's suppose for a moment that you've developed a new app, Web game or niche social network. But before you release your brainchild to what you hope will be a grateful public, you'd be well advised to first place it into the hands of beta testers.
These beta testers generally reside outside the realm of your company's alpha testers (i.e., your engineering team and other employees) who can discover problems with usability and functionality that may have been overlooked by your in-house team. For instance, they might spot perplexing usability issues, crashes, misplaced click-throughs, confusing instructions and even typographical errors.
What's more, many view these testers as the early adopters of your offering. So not only can they help suggest improvements and features, they're often the first ones to generate excitement about your launch.
So how do you go about finding beta testers prior to the public launch of your web, mobile or social application? Here are four tips from Cody Barbierri, co-founder of BetaBait.com, a Bridgeport, Conn., startup that aims to help businesses recruit and work with beta testers:
- If you build it, they will come: You'll need to hire a web designer to create a landing page that potential beta testers can easily find, learn something about your beta test and sign up. Be explicit about what you're looking for and when you plan to launch.
- Take advantage of social utilities: Get the word out via social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to attract knowledgeable beta testing candidates. And don't rush them into making a decision. Chat up these folks online, and, after they're comfortable with you and supportive of your vision, ask them to participate in your project.
- It's whom you know: Naturally, you want to attract the tech writers and industry insiders to test your application, but there are others out there who require consideration. How about bloggers with access to large online audiences or networks? They can quickly get the word out about your impending launch. And, as long as they're not in direct competition with you, invite other business leaders to participate.
- It's all in the timing: Be ready to hit the ground running. Once you've got people signed up for beta testing, don't keep them waiting. Ensure that they're informed and up to date, because if you wait too long, they're going to forget they ever offered to test your app in the first place.
Have you used beta testers to help you develop your product or service? How did you find them? Leave a comment, and let us know.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.