Beta is often the earliest opportunity potential customers have to use your product, and it’s a great opportunity to collect their ideas beyond the usability aspects of your product. While bug reports and surveys are essential to every beta test, feature requests can play a vital role as well. Unfortunately, many product teams are hesitant to collect feature requests during beta because they know they won’t have the runway to implement major requests and don’t want to disappoint their testers.
What many teams don’t realize, however, is that there are a number of reasons why feature requests should be included in every beta test, even if you don’t plan on implementing them before release. From measuring feature acceptance to preventing your data being muddied, below are some of the critical reasons you should ask for feature requests or suggestions in your next beta test.
Keep Your Data Clean
One of the most important things you should consider is if you don’t include feature requests as a feedback type, you could end up with unclear data. By including feature requests or suggestions, you’re giving testers a very specific outlet for their ideas, helping you keep these types of requests from ending up in bug reports.
For example, say you have a media streaming device and you haven’t yet included support for a popular streaming app, like Netflix. It’s possible that a tester (or many) will submit this as a bug report, even though it doesn’t relate to any issues with your actual feature set. This not only muddies your bug reports, but it also creates more work for your team as you’ll then need to sift through and filter out the feature requests.
See If Your Product Isn’t Delivering
Feature requests allow your testers the opportunity to contribute their ideas on how the product could be improved upon or made more useful, but it can also indicate if your product isn’t delivering in certain areas. For example, as part of your beta test, you can allow testers to vote on feature suggestions. More votes can indicate how much the lack of this feature impacts user expectations or satisfaction. Data from feature requests can also be used in surveys. For example, you can see your testers rate their experience with your product lower due to a feature not being available or not having expected capabilities.
While most features will be too difficult to add to a product at the beta stage, if an overwhelming number of testers are asking for the same feature, it may be worth including it in the final version of the product, or as a high priority in a future version.
Assist with Product Planning
Feature requests can lay the groundwork for understanding what your customers want to see next, giving you insight into customer requirements that can help with product planning. This is a goldmine for inspiration that can be used to influence future revisions of your product.
You can also capture more general needs by calling them “suggestions” instead of the the traditional “feature requests”. This will encourage testers to submit ideas and unmet needs, rather than limiting themselves to requesting specific features.
By creating a dedicated place where testers can submit feature ideas, you create a centralized place to process, prioritize, and respond to ideas, even if you don’t have immediate plans to use them. You can even seed the discussions with features you are already considering to see if your testers support the idea of adding the features and how they imagine they would use them. With this insight, you can validate and prioritize ideas for your roadmap, allowing you to build even better products in the future.
Collecting feature requests serves an important psychological purpose in beta testing as well. It provides an outlet for testers to share their ideas and feel like they’re being heard by the product team. It reinforces the notion that their contributions are important. This can help keep up the morale of your testers which can in turn help improve engagement rates for generating other feedback types (bugs, etc.).
Feature requests are a great way to connect with your testers and understand what they need and want from your product. There are many areas where this type of information can help inform your team and your product’s future. As long as you’re able to understand the role of feature requests within a beta test, you can use this type of feedback to develop a stronger product. Check out the The Feedback Playbook to learn more about the different types of feedback you should be using.