Beta testing is a lot of fun. Trying out cool, new, unreleased products and giving your opinions directly to the people developing it, all in an effort to make it flawless before it’s released to the world — what isn’t fun about that?
However, it’s easy to get absorbed with playing around with a new gadget and lose track of what the company expects of you as a tester. Below are the seven main responsibilities you have as a beta tester in one of our projects. Keeping these in mind throughout the test and making sure you complete them will both make you a great tester and ensure that you get your incentive at the end of the test.
1. Log in at least once a day
Given that beta tests are often short, it’s important that you log in every day during the test to report your experiences with the product. This also gives you the opportunity to check for announcements, read through other testers’ feedback, and contribute to the group’s discussion of the product. If you’re a regular in the community, this should only take you a few minutes to simply drop in and see what’s going on in the test.
2. Protect the secrecy of the test
The coolest part about beta testing is being the first to get your hands on a new product. However, this privilege comes with great responsibility, since the company doesn’t want information about their product leaked before they’re ready. Once you’ve signed an NDA, you’re expected to keep everything about the test and the product confidential. This means no sharing your thoughts or experiences on social media or blogs, even after the test is over. Otherwise you risk being banned from all future tests and incurring the wrath of the company’s legal department.
3. Continuously provide feedback
Beta testing is all about YOUR opinions and impressions of the product, so it’s important to provide feedback regularly. When it comes to bug reports or feature requests, submit them as soon as you discover them. Also, if you submit a problem during the test and the beta manager follows up with you asking for more information, be sure to respond as soon as you can. The more time you give the development team to work on fixing a problem, the better. Remember, your ideas and opinions are the main reason companies run beta tests, so don’t be afraid to share anything that’s on your mind.
4. Complete all tasks and surveys
You’ll be asked to complete surveys and perform specific tasks during a beta test. Complete these activities as soon as you have the opportunity. Companies often like to collect information during a specific stage of the user’s experience (such as after the initial installation) or in response to a specific piece of feedback they’ve received. Completing surveys and tasks quickly will help them get the information they need at the right time so they can make important product decisions.
5. Engage in discussions and submit journals
Even if you aren’t running into bugs, you can still contribute to the beta test on a daily basis through discussion forums and daily journals. Discussion forums allow you to build on or flesh out other testers’ contributions and daily journals give you the chance to reflect on your experience with the product that day. Both provide valuable insight for the company into what testers think about the product.
6. Return all of the test materials afterwards
Sometimes you’ll get to keep the product at the end of the test, however, you should never assume this will be the case. Beta hardware and software is often not stable enough for customers to use long-term. Always assume that you’re going to have to return all of the beta materials (including the product and any packaging/directions that came with it) at the end of the test. If you don’t, you’re violating the NDA and Beta Participant Agreement you signed at the beginning of the test, which could have serious ramifications.
7. Communicate with your beta manager
A lot can happen during a beta test. If you need help or have to leave the test, let your beta manager know. Our beta managers want to make sure you can test successfully and are here to help. We also understand that life is unpredictable and something may come up that keeps you from being able to fulfill your duties as a tester. Keep us in the loop so we can help you determine the best plan.
Beta testing products is a big responsibility. Sometimes testers don’t understand the huge role they play in launching a successful product. If you take these responsibilities seriously and contribute continuously during the beta test, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your beta testing experience and become one of the top testers in our community.