A common mistake new beta managers make is to assume that testers instinctually know what they’re supposed to do during a beta test. In truth, most testers (even the ‘naturals’) need guidance. It’s up to you to provide that guidance so your testers can hit the ground running when your test starts.
Be transparent with your expectations right from the start. You can list these expectations on your recruitment landing page, in a welcome email, in your beta test platform, as part of your beta participant agreement, or in all of these places, but make sure you communicate it succinctly and clearly. Below we list five expectations you can establish with your testers to make sure they understand what they’re supposed to do and how you would like them to do it.
1. Keep It Secret
All testers should sign an NDA before they officially join your test. During this process, it’s important testers know what they are signing, as well as understand their legal obligations to secrecy. Reminding your testers about those obligations outside of the signing process can go a long way. Let them know they are expected to keep everything about this project secret (including their involvement). Emphasize that they are not authorized to post any information anywhere outside your system including blogs, forums, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other websites and social media networks.
2. Provide Regular Feedback
A beta test lives and dies by the feedback it collects. That’s why it’s critical testers understand that you expect them to provide regular feedback throughout the test period. Regular feedback could include the submission of bug reports and feature requests as they use the product, but could also take the form of journal entries and general discussions. Remind testers that no matter how trivial they think a glitch, thought, or idea might be, they should still submit it to your beta team.
3. Complete Tasks and Surveys
Throughout your beta test, there will be moments where you’ll need your testers to use a specific feature or answer surveys about your product. When those moments arise, it’s crucial all your testers participate. If even just a handful of your testers don’t respond to your surveys or tasks your data will be affected. Making it clear that you need 100% participation for surveys and tasks at the beginning of your beta test can condition your testers to be vigilant as the test progresses.
4. Be Responsive
Sometimes you’ll need more information from a tester and time could be of the essence (in the case of critical bug, for example). Let your testers know that you may reach out to them for clarification about their feedback and that it’s important they respond quickly to all messages or requests from your beta management team. Tell them how you’ll be reaching out to them (e.g. via email or within your beta management platform) so they know where to look and don’t miss your message.
5. Be Collaborative
Collaboration is a key part of every one of our beta tests. Allowing testers to contribute to each other’s feedback gives you a more complete view of the feedback and its importance. It’s important that your testers understand that he or she didn’t just join a beta test, but that they also joined a tester community of like-minded people that are also interested in contributing to the development of a product. Encourage your testers to log in each day, even if they don’t have a specific bug to report or task to complete. They can review the issues and ideas other testers are submitting and add their two cents to the conversation.
By ensuring your testers are on the same as page as you from the beginning, the likelihood that they’ll give you the feedback you need will be much higher than if you let them forge their own path. By giving them written directions they can reference throughout your project you can rest assured your testers will be more engaged and responsive throughout your beta test.
To get more best practices for keeping your testers engaged and providing feedback, check out the Reaching 90% Beta Participation ebook.