One of the most important facets of product testing is identifying and finding an audience that will help you make your products better. When planning a product test, perhaps the most vital question to ask when determining who will test your product is, whose feedback will be the most important to your product’s development? There are two groups of people that can make a huge difference in your testing: ideal customers and ideal testers. While it may seem like these groups should be one and the same, let’s take a look at how these groups can affect your product’s current state and future.
Ideal Customer as Beta Tester
When you create a product, it’s important to know who will be using it. After all, without a customer, you won’t know how best to configure your product to make it both useful and desirable to those who will buy it and keep using it. What makes up an ideal customer depends on the type of product. For example, if you’re developing a wearable fitness tracker, your ideal customer might be someone who is fitness-oriented with a supported smartphone, or it might be someone who isn’t fitness-oriented but is beginning to prioritize their health. It can even be both! Each of these customers can give you very specific insights that can be equally important to your product’s state.
Whether you have one specific type of customer or a few demographics, getting their feedback on your product (whether pre-release or iterative updates) will directly impact your future success. Even if a specific feature of your product was working properly during development and internal testing, inviting a customer to test it will offer a more revealing, and oftentimes, accurate marker of how it will perform in real-world scenarios. For example, if your wearable’s distance tracking was working perfectly in a more controlled environment, having your customer use it as expected on long outdoor walks or runs may show you very different data that wasn’t previously considered. Similarly, your product’s design might be beloved by your dev team but if your ideal customer provides feedback that indicates they don’t, it is important to collect that data before launching your product to the public as it’s likely that will be the consensus from users.
Ideal Beta Tester to Test Your Products
What happens if your product has more issues than expected when testing with your ideal customer? A product test with an incredible amount of bugs that can render the device unusable for some might leave a sour taste in your customer’s mouth. Finding these issues and fixing them is essential to your development cycle, but you don’t want your future customers to lose faith in your product’s stability.
A solution to this conundrum is to find dedicated beta testers - people that have a passion for technology and a basic understanding that pre-release products might have issues. This type of tester won’t necessarily just be defined by what you’re looking for in a customer but how they interact with your product during your test. An ideal tester will not only use it in real-life scenarios but will explore every aspect of your product in a variety of ways as directed by your team. Sometimes, a customer will be excited to participate in a product test but will only provide feedback on facets that are important to them. On the other hand, a tester will explore your product and really put it through its paces to make sure that any issues aren’t left uncovered before a public release.
Both ideal customers and ideal testers play important roles in your testing processes at different stages of development. Depending on the maturity of your product, your ideal customer might not necessarily be your ideal tester.