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Private Beta vs. Public Beta Testing

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:

  • Owner: Product Management or Quality
  • Access: Invite by company
  • Participants: Dozens to hundreds
  • Goals: Bugs, performance, accuracy, acceptance
  • Feedback Loop: Constant engagement
  • Feedback Type: Bugs, features, suggestions, tasks, surveys, forums
  • Product Type: All technology products
  • Also Known As: Closed beta, field trial, user acceptance testing (UAT), customer acceptance testing (CAT), customer validation, prerelease
  • Tester Qualifications: Target demographic specific to product
  • Duration: Fixed time (weeks to months)
  • Incentives: Project incentives for tester engagement
  • Product Security: Non-disclosure agreement (NDA), test agreement, license agreement
  • Recruitment: Staged (recruit, select, NDA, test)
  • Distribution: Pre-release system or production-ready
  • Exposure: Secret and undisclosed

Public Betas:

  • Owner: Marketing
  • Access: Open or invited by other testers
  • Participants: Thousands to millions
  • Goals: Marketing, load testing, data collection
  • Feedback Loop: Minimal (forums/email) or none
  • Feedback Type: Bugs, forums, surveys, email, or none
  • Product Type: Online games, websites, some apps
  • Also Known As: Open beta, marketing beta, stress test, load test
  • Tester Qualifications: Limited or no requirements
  • Duration: Open length of time until release
  • Incentives: None
  • Product Security: License only
  • Recruitment: Flat (recruit direct to access)
  • Distribution: Production-ready usually required
  • Exposure: 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!

Download Using Public Betas as a Launch Tool now!

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.

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