The start of beta testing is a huge milestone in the life of your mobile app. It marks the first time it’s unleashed into the real world and the first time it’s exposed to users outside your development group. At the same time it signifies the last stage of testing, which also means it is your last chance to tackle bugs and introduce improvements before releasing it to the world in its final form.
For startups, small budget operations, and hobby developers, rounding up enough people to beta test your app used to be a challenge. However, social media, a global tech savvy audience, and the concept of crowdsourcing has changed all that. Today mobile app developers of all sizes tap into the power of the crowd to test run their latest products.
Bringing Beta to the Crowd
Scroll through Android’s Google Play store and chances are you’ll notice a few beta apps mixed into the listings. Increasingly, developers are publishing rough cuts of their apps straight onto app stores and allowing real users to give them a spin. Exposing fledgling apps to such a broad audience is the best way to ensure it’s ready for its official release.
Developed by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia Beta is a great example of how developers can use crowdsourcing to their advantage. The app is a major overhaul of its previous version and the foundation published it to the Google Play store with full disclosure of its beta status. Users are invited to test Wikipedia Beta and report bugs to an email address provided in the app’s description.
Scroll down to the app’s ratings section and there’s plenty of valuable feedback for Wikimedia, who actively engage with users and discuss bugs with them. That’s because beta apps attract a vocal audience of early adopters with high standards for what gets installed on their devices.
As a developer you can gain even greater insight into how your app is used and performs by collecting analytics from usage reports. Added to a beta app, developers can configure reports to gather all sorts of data, such as page load times, behavior flow, and user engagement.
Use Beta Testing to Increase App Store Rankings
The main purpose of beta testing is to see how your app fares in the real world. It gives you one last chance to fix any remaining issues and if all goes well your app will be ready for its proper public debut at the end of the testing phase.
In today’s saturated app market, a good rating is all but essential in gaining the exposure you need to boost download figures. Mobile marketing experts Fiksu discovered that apps with a 4-star rating or higher received a marked rankings boost in Apple’s App Store, while 3-star apps were hit with a ranking downgrade. According to Fiksu, securing a good rating is more down to creating a glitch free app than an app users love. The reason? Glitches are “the number one reason people leave a dreaded one-star rating.”
Crowdsourced beta testing, whether it is through an app store or otherwise, gives you the best possible opportunity to work through glitches and accurately gauge how your app will be received. If your beta app is receiving two-star reviews, chances are there are major fixes and you may have to go back to the drawing board. However, if you receive 4 star reviews, it’s a good indication that after resolving a few remaining issues, your app will be ready.