Alpha testing is a key part of the product development process. It ensures you get real-world feedback on your product before it is released. If you’re working with tech startups, beta testing can give you valuable insight into how people will interact with your product once it’s launched.
Alpha testing is a process in which customers are invited to test new products and services before making them available to the general public. It is often used in producing new software or hardware and other types of product development. This article will give you all the information about alpha testing, including how it works, what makes it effective, and why it’s important for your business.
What is Alpha Testing?
Alpha testing is a preliminary test phase in the software development cycle. It is conducted to ensure that the users, stakeholders, and developers are on board with the product being developed.
Alpha Testing definition:
Alpha testing is the process of ensuring a new product or service is working as expected. Alpha testing aims to eliminate bugs, refine and perfect the product, and achieve high-quality user feedback before launching it to the general public.
If we try to understand what is the definition of Alpha testing as per Wikipedia:
Alpha testing is simulated or actual operational testing by potential users/customers or an independent test team at the developers’ site. Alpha testing is often employed for off-the-shelf software as internal acceptance testing before the software goes to beta testing.
Why is Alpha Testing Important?
Alpha testing is one of the important steps in the software development lifecycle because it allows developers to uncover defects. Sometimes, a few bugs may get overlooked while developing or testing your app. Also, alpha testing helps us understand user requirements and identifies latent requirements not found during the requirements-gathering phase.
Alpha testing allows users to experience the new product and discover any problems or issues. In the case of beta testing, the user may not give his/her feedback as it is a free service provided by the developers. But in alpha testing, since you are paying for the app, people will be more honest about their opinions regarding your app.
Who does Alpha Testing?
Both internal team members and external testers can carry out alpha testing. Internal team members perform alpha testing because they know better about the products under development and usually know how to search for bugs.
This also saves time since fewer people are involved compared to external testers. However, there may not be enough people from your team available when you are developing a large-scale application or an application you do not have full control over (i.e., creating an application for someone else). In such situations, a mix of internal and external testers is preferable.
The advantage of using external testers is that you can have many more people testing your application simultaneously (which saves cost). As a result, you learn about issues as early as possible, reducing development costs while creating a better and more robust product.
How does Alpha Testing work?
Alpha testing involves getting feedback from a selected group of testers who usually represent your user base. As the application is developed, the team sends out a new version and instructions or questions to test cases for each tester. The testers then provide their remarks on these issues and any suggestions they might have. In some cases, simple bug reporting is also required from them.
How do you get Testers?
There are multiple ways to find alpha testers for your application. The following methods can be used:
Existing Users: If you have an application already available in the market or have released a beta version of your app, you can email the users asking them to try out your application. They can help you with suggestions and other related issues.
Members of the Public: Send an email or a message on Facebook or Twitter requesting people who want to test your app before its release. You may even mention that they will get paid for their feedback. These sites usually have an interested crowd of testers who can help you.
Twitter: You can ask people on Twitter to test your application and take ownership of a particular feature for testing purposes. The advantage here is that you will get multiple responses from different people with diverse backgrounds, allowing you to have better quality assurance coverage since you are getting feedback from many users.
Advantages of Alpha testing:
You can identify bugs early in the development cycle and fix them before users report issues.
It helps you gather feedback from your end-users about the application. This way, you know how well the customers like the application and what needs to be improved in future versions.
Since alpha testers are usually selected according to their background or needs, you can always expect quality from them. They won’t just provide feedback with no reason; instead, they’ll be more diligent in testing the application and help you identify issues a normal user wouldn’t care about.
By paying users for their feedback, you are getting free and valuable usage data and information on potential application issues.
Disadvantages of Alpha testing:
Reviewing each tester’s feedback manually and suggesting revisions for your application is time-consuming. It is better to automate this process to have real-time tracking and reporting. This way, you can find bugs faster than when using manual methods.
Finding alpha testers and communicating with them are not easy tasks. So, this can be a time-consuming process as well.
You will often receive negative feedback about the application from your testers, which may be hard to digest. You might not have an immediate solution for some issues or require more development time to fix them.
This method may also be expensive—especially if you pay the testers for their time and inconsistent behavior. You may find that some of your testers take on other testing jobs or lose interest in testing because they do not get monetary rewards.
Finding bugs can be challenging since your alpha testers generally aren’t trained to find bugs or use your application in a certain way.
As the application is being developed, you need to keep sending out new versions and instructions for testers to provide feedback.
Some users can also be biased towards the app and may not provide honest criticism about it.
It can be time-consuming to fix bugs and provide feedback for each user.
When releasing an application, you must ensure it has passed all testing phases successfully. Here are a few useful tactics:
Using beta users who have tested your alpha version of the application is one way of quickly moving into the beta stage. This method helps identify issues that were not resolved in the alpha version.
It is better to create a beta build for internal and external beta testing, as it allows you to have complete control over the process while getting feedback from real users early on.