As a software quality control engineer with four years of experience, software testing is my passion. I love finding bugs — whether functional, technical, UI, usability, performance, or security — and discussing them with developers. I’ve completed many freelance testing jobs as well as participated as a tester for multiple global and local beta apps.
Being a beta tester has many benefits, even if it isn’t paid work, whether it’s a famous app or an indie product. In addition to any incentives developers offer to their beta testers, you get first access to an app’s newest features. And if you work in the field, it’s tremendously valuable for gaining more experience and staying on top of trends and best practices. You get to see what’s out there, from different kinds of applications and features within a range of business domains to interacting with people from different cultures throughout the software industry.
Personally, I take pride in discovering defects and sharing my feedback — this means that I’ve helped improve the product. And the more unique the bug, the more fascinating it is to me. In this post, I’d like to share some of my experiences testing beta apps to help you be a great beta tester.
1. Go Beyond The Obvious User Steps
While testing an application, don’t focus on a single function or page. Vary your efforts to cover all functions and screens even if they aren’t the core function of the app. You can find hidden defects in the areas many people ignore in their testing.
Go even further and look for corner cases. Use an old phone with an outdated OS and full storage on low battery while tethering to another device in an unstable mobile network coverage area with other apps simultaneously running. Spam the app with very special characters and impossible data. Go wild.
2. Understand The Product
Blind testing an app without knowing anything about it is essential for giving developers insights about users’ first reactions and experiences. This is a basic requirement for beta testers who interact with the app as if they’re real users.
To offer more advanced feedback, dig deeper to understand the product’s features. Put yourself in the place of different user personas with different objectives who might interact with the app. This allows you to cover more scenarios to test. How would a 70-year-old grandmother with vision problems navigate through the app differently than a digital native 8th grade boy with ADD? Don’t hesitate to ask questions during the test cycle if you face anything you don’t understand. Your beta test contact person is there to help.
3. Know That Bugs Exist in the App
Take into consideration the fact that the application you’re testing still contains bugs that were overlooked during internal testing. The software industry average is 15-50 errors per 1,000 lines of delivered code. And three-quarters of mobile apps are released live containing an average of one to 10 bugs. If the product was perfect, it wouldn’t need beta testing, and the more bugs you discover and report, the less bugs will exist in the live app.
4. Provide Detailed Reports
When you report a defect, make sure that anyone not familiar with the product will understand what you wrote. This can be done by including the following:
A descriptive title for the issue (title should include the problem and the screen inside which it occurs)
Clear, reproducible steps
The environment (device model, internet connection state, battery level, etc.)
Screenshots of the defect (you can also attach videos if repro steps are complicated)
The data you tested with if the defect occurs in special cases
Most good beta tests involve a tool like Instabug that automates these reports and makes it easier for testers to communicate with the developers and provide feedback.
5. Suggest Usability Changes
As a beta tester, you’re responsible for checking that the product is working, easy to use, and contains actions that make sense. So if you find any areas that need improvement when it comes to ease of use, report your feedback to the developers. Remember that what you’re testing is not the final product. Nothing is final until it is released, and they can also take your suggestions into consideration even after the app goes live.
6. Keep It Confidential
To prevent last-minute leaks, many companies make their beta test rounds private as they spent months designing and working on their product to prepare it for launch. So it is your responsibility to keep everything confidential, especially if you signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Don’t post about bugs you found, and don’t even mention that you’re part of the beta test team unless you’re allowed to.
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