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Test Management

What’s An Energy Pool and What Role Does It Play in Beta?

July 13, 2015

So your beta test is almost ready to go. You’re in the process of securing your testers but you’re still trying to find the best way to think about recruitment as well as your feedback collection processes. Assessing potential testers can be tough. It’s also hard to know exactly how to engage testers in a productive manner throughout your test.

There are a number of factors that can affect tester recruiting and feedback participation. At the core of all of them lies two fundamental concepts: energy pools and friction. The interplay of these two concepts (before and during your beta test) will help you identify the best testers and get the most high-quality feedback from them during your test.

What is an Energy Pool?

Every tester that applies for your beta test has a set amount of energy he or she is willing to spend testing your product and giving you feedback. We think of this as a tester’s energy pool. The cumulative sum of that energy from all your testers makes up your team’s overall energy pool, or the total amount of energy you will be able to convert into good, objective feedback during your beta test.

Gauging Testers’ Energy Pools

You want to find testers with big energy pools for your beta tests. This starts with choosing active and enthusiastic testers that prove that they’re willing to give a lot of time and effort to your test. It’s only natural that some testers will have higher amounts of energy, or are more willing to participate than others. That being said, successfully differentiating testers with high amounts of energy from those with low amounts will make a big impact on how large your test’s total energy pool will be, and therefore, how much feedback you will receive during your test. Having a successful recruitment process will mean weeding out testers who aren’t committed enough to be good testers.

The number one way to gauge an individual tester’s energy pool is by introducing friction during the signup and application process. You can do this by requiring testers to fill out a detailed profile to join your beta community and then complete a qualification survey (with a few open-ended questions) to apply for your test.

The more detailed and thorough an applicant is in filling out their profile and your qualification survey (or whether they complete your lengthy signup process at all), the more likely they are to commit a lot of time and energy to your test. We recommend creating a signup process that lasts about 20 minutes. By requiring new testers to submit a lot of information about themselves and the products they use, you will not only separate casual testers from more serious ones, but those who finish the initial process will feel much more invested in the test itself.

Turning Energy Pools into Feedback

After choosing testers with large energy pools, it’s important to maximize that energy once the test begins. Instead of creating friction, your role is to reduce friction as much as possible to capitalize on each tester’s energy pool and turn it into valuable feedback about your product.

Maximizing each tester’s energy pool is all about making feedback collection as efficient as possible. Make sure the methods testers use to submit their beta feedback are as simple and straightforward as possible. For instance, if you’re collecting feedback about a mobile app, you should collect information about each tester’s smartphone at the beginning of your project (or even during the community sign up). That way, you can avoid having to ask about the details of their phone every time they submit a piece of feedback.

Another example would be to make sure your testers can submit all their feedback in one place, so you can save them from having to remember login information for multiple systems to participate in your test. Finding ways to create a seamless feedback process will mean every ounce of your testers energy will go towards using your product and providing helpful feedback, and not be drained by complicated feedback processes.

Additionally you’ll want to consider what you’re asking of your testers during your beta test. It can be tempting to keep your testers busy with directed feedback (such as surveys and tasks) to try and maximize their energy. However, you don’t want to overload your testers with these kinds of assigned activities. Instead you need to balance directed feedback with ongoing feedback collection (like bug reports and feature requests) to get the most out of your testers. This will allow your most energetic testers to put their additional time and effort into exploring the product and providing natural feedback about that experience.

By providing a range of easy ways for testers to give you meaningful feedback during your beta test you can maximize the impact of each tester during your beta. For your next beta test, consider the idea of energy pools and how you can design your qualification and feedback collection processes to get the most feedback from your team of energetic testers.

For more beta best practices, check out our library!

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