In October 2020, YouTube quietly changed the way it beta tests which allows only premium subscribers to opt-in to test new features. It’s a departure from the way things have always been when they just selected beta testers at random.
We speculate it’s because YouTube realizes that a paid subscriber is more invested in the process than someone selected randomly. Which means more engagement and better feedback. High engagement equals more feedback, more feedback equals more fixes, and more fixes equal higher product quality.
And if that is the reason, we couldn’t agree more because we have been proving this out at Centercode for two decades.
For paying subscribers, this is a huge win as well. By gaining access to beta features before the rest of the user community, power users have a chance to get out ahead of their competition and potentially monetize their head start. This is truly a win-win for both YouTube and its subscribers.
Our biggest takeaway from YouTube’s decision is what we’ve been saying for years. The best way to perfect your existing product is to focus on your power users in all of your Beta and Delta tests.
Why Power Users Make Great Testers
Your power users are people who, for personal or professional reasons, spend way more time with your product than the average user. They have a lot of technical expertise and often take advantage of your product’s new or advanced features (spoiler alert) to suit their robust needs or increase their efficiency.
How does that fold into the criteria for great beta testers? Great testers are users in your target market with ample reasons and opportunity to use your product in their daily life. And because they have a vested interest in using your product, they’re naturally more enthusiastic about making it better.
You might be thinking, “If power users make such amazing and helpful beta testers, why don’t more organizations do it?”
That’s exactly our point: More organizations should be seeking them out!
4 Powerful Benefits
Now, don’t get us wrong. There are plenty of insights to be gained from testing your product with average users (they’re the bulk of your audience, after all). But testing with your power users — whether they’re audiophiles, software engineers, video editors, content creators, or professional gamers — brings above-average benefits to your project and your organization. Here are just a few of them.
The more invested in your product your testers are, the longer they stay engaged and the more feedback they provide. Unlike testers chosen at random, power users are as invested as they come — they were using your product more than average before your test — so they are wellsprings of in-depth feedback. In addition to offering more technical insight and surfacing deep-seated issues, they often troubleshoot with other testers in threads and discussions, which lifts engagement all around.
Better Scoping of Features and Your Product Roadmap
Power users occupy the space on the bleeding edge of your product’s functionality. They’re early adopters, pushing boundaries and even discovering ways to use your product that even your organization hadn’t thought of. As industry barometers, their ideas and habits shed insight you can use to develop new features and drive your roadmap. And while they tend to use products in very nuanced and specific ways, their methods often predict trends that average users will adopt later down the line.
Winning Friends and Influencing People
Speaking of trendsetting, some power users — think content creators, professional gamers, music producers, or other well-known figures in niche markets — are also influencers. They have the ear of thousands (sometimes millions) of followers. By inviting these influential users to the development table via beta testing, they (like most beta testers) develop a sense of ownership. By cementing their interest in your product, they’re more likely to become product evangelists and more likely to promote your product to their vast networks.
Expanding Your QA Lab
Power users often become “power users” out of necessity. Their job or hobby creates a demand for more time spent working with the tool or device, more powerful functionality, and a need for more technical features than the average user. The nature of their profession or interests also means they’re likely to have adjacent, top-of-the-line products in their tech stack.
Take a content creator, for example. They’ll likely use a variety of software and devices for recording, video and photo editing, sound editing, even project management. By testing with these users, you can see how your product performs among these more robust and specialized tools without spending thousands on costly additions to your QA lab.
Harness the Power of Your Power Users
Don’t let the insights from your power users slip through your fingers. Centercode makes it easy to connect directly to all members of your target audience and your tester community. Recruit, converse, collect feedback, analyze, and report from a single tool, purpose-built to help you turn pre-release feedback into perfected products. Talk to our experts about taking your program to the next level.