Alpha testing is a key part of the product development process. It ensures that you get real-world feedback on your product before it is released to the market. 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 they are made available to the general public. It is often used in the production of new software or hardware, as well as other types of product development. This article will give you all the information you need about alpha testing, including how it works, what makes it effective, and why it’s so 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 making sure that a new product or service is working as expected. The goal of alpha testing is 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 a form of 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. In some cases, a few bugs may get overlooked while developing or testing your app. Also, alpha testing helps us understand user requirements and brings out any latent requirements that were not found during the requirements gathering phase.
Alpha testing allows users to experience the new product and find out 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 opinion regarding your app.
Who does Alpha Testing?
Alpha testing can be carried out by both internal team members and external testers. Internal team members perform alpha testing because they have better knowledge of the products under development and usually know how to search for bugs.
This also saves time since there are fewer people involved compared to using external testers. However, there may not be enough people from your own team available when you are developing a large-scale application or an application for which 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 more preferable.
The advantage of using external testers is that you can have a lot more people testing your application at the same time (which saves cost). As a result, you get to know about issues as early as possible, reducing development costs while creating a better and robust product.
How does Alpha Testing work?
Alpha testing involves getting feedback from a selected group of testers who are usually representative of your user base. As the application is developed, the team sends out a new version along with a set of instructions or questions to test cases for each tester. The testers then provide their remarks on these issues as well as 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 that is already available in the market or if you have released a beta version of your app, you can send an email to the users asking them to try out your application. They can help you with suggestions and other related issues.
Members of Public: Send an email or a message on Facebook or Twitter requesting people who would like 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 and this allows you to have better quality assurance coverage since you are getting feedback from many users.
Advantage of Alpha testing:
You can identify bugs as early in the development cycle and fix them before users start reporting issues.
It helps you gather feedback from your end-users about the application. This way, you know how well the application is liked by the customers 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 will help you identify issues that a normal user wouldn’t care about.
By paying users for their feedback, you are getting free and valuable usage data as well as information on potential issues with the application.
Disadvantages of Alpha testing:
It is time-consuming to manually go through each tester’s feedback and suggest revisions for your application. It is better to automate this process to have real-time tracking and reporting. This way, you can find out bugs at a faster pace when compared to using manual methods.
Finding alpha testers and communicating with them are not easy tasks. So, this can be a time-consuming process as well.
Most of the time you will receive negative feedback from your testers about the application which may be hard to digest. For some issues, you might not have an immediate solution for them or require more development time to fix them.
This method may also be expensive—especially if you are paying the testers for their time and their behavior is not consistent. 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 for doing so.
Finding bugs can be a challenge 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 of these users can also be biased towards the app and may not provide honest criticism about it.
It can be time-consuming trying to fix bugs and provide feedback for each user.
When releasing an application, you will need to make sure that 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 in identifying any issues that were not resolved in the alpha version.
It is better to create a beta build for internal testing and external beta testing, as it allows you to have complete control over the process while getting feedback from real users early on.