As a startup founder, developer or business owner there’s nothing more soul-crushing then releasing an app or SAAS product to receive feedback that it doesn’t work.
*cue heavy breathing*
The “if you build it, they will come” mentality has long since been proven ineffective in launch.
The “build it and they will love it and it will never crash” is even more important to drill home before SAAS product release.
Overcome this using beta testing in the appropriate spaces prior to launch.
What is a beta test?
Beta testing is conducted after most coding and development has been completed and the app is almost in a place to share with others.
Prior to launch, it’s essential to catch the big bugs and glitches that would otherwise stop a customer from purchasing or using the app the way it’s intended.
According to Android Authority, the average app loses 77% of customers in the three days after their install. Over 90 days, this amounts to 90% of users dropping off the face of your app’s Earth.
You don’t want users to fall off because an element didn’t work or load right.
As a startup team or group of developers, it’s impossible to catch all issues from a user perspective internally. There can be any number of use cases within the way that a person uses an app that would not have been easily known to you or your team.
If you are close to the product as a founder or developer, it’s hard to get outside the development tunnel to observe all the deadends that a customer finds in figuring out how to use the product.
You know the maze, so you might already be avoiding all the deadends without knowing.
In a controlled space, your app or SaaS product may perform as expected, but you may find a completely different scenario happens in the real world.
You need to cross-test to determine how your product is used in the real world, with real people, and across all different devices.
Your beta testers will help your embarrassing or mission critical bugs before launching live and directly to everyone.
How Do I Find Beta Users?
Beta users can be found in a variety of places on the Internet. Save time and energy by avoiding enrolling the people who aren’t early adopters and not ready to try a product in it’s early stages.
Get the people who want the goodness you have to offer from day one; The same people that would otherwise stand in line at the Apple store for hours to try the next installment of the iPhone series.
How do you find these people?
Let me just dish out the details, my founder friend.
Best Beta Testing Websites
Here are some good websites and groups that will help you land your first cohort of beta users.
Going with a structured beta testing website allows for more diverse demographic insights and review, and less stress in organizing testing and obtaining external perspectives.
As a startup owner, this is your hub to both submit your startup, and post jobs for potential new hires.
Their platform newsletter has a loyal following of over 10,000 email list subscribers and allows your startup the chance to shine in their Trending Startups section on the front page of their website.
From an email list and website perspective, you have the chance to be seen by a community of early adopters who want to get an exclusive early glimpse of future innovation.
They also have an easy way for users to search their colllection of startups with this impressive Markets page to dive deep into their area of testing interest.
The list goes on from here..
In addition, you can also browse by region here.
Similar to Betalist, Betabound offers the option for you to list your startup in different regions and categories.
They also showcase startups of note on their website.
They make it easy to sign up. With just a click, listings on their site redirect propsective users to your startup’s site or landing page to sign up and create an account.
They also categorize startups based on the medium. In the image above, for example, they show web-based products versus mobile products. Other mediums include software, hardware, and gaming. Prospective users gain a better understanding of the “what” on your product before jumping in to test.
As with other sites, Betabound makes it easy to submit your beta experience. Beyond that, beta testers of a product can also submit a suggestion to include a startup on the site with a Tip.
Finally, Betabound has a a comphrehensive blog that covers a lot of developer related artices. These include essential topics like legal aspects of beta testing, tester confidentiality, overcoming NDA violations, issues reporting, and whether or not to incentivize beta users.
Startup Lift is a directory for startups that makes it intuitive and easy to submit your startup via a single form found on their main navigation. With a group of nearly 60k beta users, you’re sure to find a few prospective customers to help test.
They also have a number of how-to guides for operations and processes to apply to your startup development. These include the steps on how to calculate payroll taxes, to finding an SEO company to outsource.
These guides are well worth the read if you’re a founder self-educating and getting “your ducks in a row”.
They also offer product consulting on their website to help your grow your business and invite comments and suggestions for their user base.
While previous platforms feature software and apps across mediums, TestFairy is solely dedicated to mobile app testing.
They also boast supporting testing within a “secure, enterprise-grade environment”, and feature partnering companies that include Verizon, King, Blizzard, Groupon and Adobe.
Fairly impressive lineup, if you ask me.
This site offers an array of benefits that make feedback extremely streamlined for you and your users:
- Users can submit errors by shaking their phone and making on-screen sketches to show you what changes they’d like to see
- App sessions from users can be recorded in real time to show bugs and app crashes as they appear to the user
- Integration happens with Jira, Slack and other platforms, so issues can be automatically logged as tasks and projects for upcoming development sprints
- Secure access means distribution only happens to the testers you allow with single sign-on, private cloud connection, and data encryption
TestFairy includes free distribution of apps on their platform for bootstrapping founders. Otherwise you can opt for their Startup or Enterprise plans.
If you’re aiming for a secure platform where you can put your tinfoil hats on, prior to launching testing on your mobile app, TestFairy is that space.
If you don’t want to get lost in the weeds for platforms that feature all product frameworks, Test.io is another platform that’s mainly geared toward mobile app testing.
With Test.io, you get specific issue reports, easy setup for your testing approach (noted below), and quick feedback on fixes and software patches. Like TestFairy, Test.io integrates with your development tracking and project management software.
You can also set clear parameters on browsers and device to ensure what you build works to the moon and back on all devices.
The unique part of Test.io is that they also offer quality assurance and vetted testers to reduce the overhead for startup teams, and legal and security issues.
If you don’t want to compromise between embarrassing bugs being launched and getting essential features released live, this is your space to check out.
Another aspect of Test.io is the ability to structure testing by specific approach or platform.
Specifically, their testing approaches include:
- Exploratory Testing
- User Story Testing
- Regression Testing
- Functional Testing
- Usability Testing
- Test Case Execution
- Black Box Testing
- Beta Testing
Each of these serve a different purpose in getting to the heart of your testing needs.
For example, user story testing allows your users to vote “up” or “down” on specific user stories based on how they actually work in real time. (Think of it like a Reddit forum for testing.)
Whatever route you choose to go with, there is a pricing model in this platform for your team. For each plan, you are invited to request a quote.
Previously known as ErliBird, this platform renamed and rebranded under their original legal entity ErliBird Nest, Inc.
This platform is friendly to startups with products across all frameworks, including Mac and Windows applications, iOS and Android apps, websites, prototype and mockup testing.
BetaTesting boasts a huge pool of users at 250,000 … and growing. They also showcase partnering with over 1,500 major companies that include Xerox, Disney, The New York Times, Hotjar, ReadyTalk, and Typeform – to name a few.
Beta Testing is unique on this list in that it compensates users to beta test on their platform. Upon application, beta users are notified that they are able to earn $10-25 per beta test (or more).
This platform offers more expensive plans to startups, with their Basic plan starting at $149/month for 5 tests and 10 testers.
Their Pro and Managed plans are also available and mostly suited to startups and teams that in later stages and have secured funding to invest.
If you are an early-stage startup in initial funding stages or pre-seed funding, it’s best to opt for another testing platform on this list.
I can’t end this article without sharing Reddit.
Reddit can be a great spot to get straightforward, no-frills feedback for apps and products that are primarily situated to be B2C products.
The subreddit Beta Testing group is a very small community to look into.
GameDev is another, larger subreddit to crowdtest for gaming apps more specifically.
Additionally, if you’re looking for answers to startup questions, the Startups subreddit is a massive space of over 672,000 members. You can be sure that your questions will gain some eyeballs and answers in this space – beta testing related or otherwise.
The startup subreddit also has a beta testing channel within their Discord server, which you can join here.
In the discord server, you can connect with other founders, post jobs to hire, gain access to mentors, and even peep a few investors floating around in the space.
In future, I’ll be releasing an article on tips toward gaining early users based on startup business development experience.
In the meantime, if you’re a founder looking for weekly mindset advice, I share a weekly training to multiple inboxes every Tuesday. You can check it out and sign up by gently poking the button below.
For those who sign up, I offer a secret collaboration opportunity and point to connect and hear your startup story.
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Finally, if you see a platform that’s not on this list that you know should be here – ping me in a comment below and I’ll add that. Love to hear your insights and experiences with these platforms.