Private and public beta tests are very different animals. They have different goals, strategies, and risks. While they’re very distinct, they’re also often confused, since both happen during the exciting period leading up to the launch of a product.
The table below gives a quick overview of the key differences between private and public betas so you can select the right type of test for your goals and situation. Do keep in mind that this is not an either/or situation. Many companies run both private and public beta tests to get the most out of each type of beta test prior to their product’s release.
|Private Betas||Public Betas|
|Owner||Product Management or Quality||Marketing|
|Access||Invite by company||Open or invited by other testers|
|Participants||Dozens to hundreds||Thousands to millions|
|Goals||Bugs, performance, accuracy, acceptance||Marketing, load testing, data collection|
|Feedback Loop||Constant engagement||Minimal (forums/email) or none|
|Feedback Type||Bugs, features, suggestions, tasks, surveys, forums||Bugs, forums, surveys, email, or none|
|Product Type||All technology products||Online games, websites, some apps|
|Also Known As||Closed beta, field trial, user acceptance testing (UAT), customer acceptance testing (CAT), customer validation, prerelease||Open beta, marketing beta, stress test, load test|
|Tester Qualifications||Target demographic specific to product||Limited or no requirements|
|Duration||Fixed time (weeks to months)||Open length of time until release|
|Incentives||Project incentives for tester engagement||None|
|Product Security||Non-disclosure agreement (NDA), test agreement, license agreement||License only|
|Recruitment||Staged (recruit, select, NDA, test)||Flat (recruit direct to access)|
|Distribution||Pre-release system or production-ready||Production-ready usually required|
|Exposure||Secret and undisclosed||Public and promoted|
Public beta tests serve a key role in the development of many products and can be a great supplement to a private beta testing program. For more on how to leverage public beta tests, download our free whitepaper below. Good luck with your next public (or private) beta test!
P.S. If you’re more interested in private betas, download our confidentiality whitepaper instead, which focuses on maintaining secrecy and handling beta leaks during your prelaunch testing.