Knowing the difference between the two should be important as you decide what type of quality assurance you need to perfect your products.
Public Beta Test
Whether developing a complex enterprise business application or a simple website or app, many publishers want to have an idea for how well their software will be received pre-launch. The task at hand is to gather a group of individuals, each of whom fit their target marketplace demographics, provide them access to the software, and gauge their level of satisfaction. This process is referred to as “conducting a public beta test”.
- The feedback will almost certainly be usability-related as these people will likely comment on the software’s intuitiveness, user interface, and overall ease of use.
- Public beta testers should not encounter defects that compromise the software’s functionality. Issues of that type should already have been discovered, documented, and fixed prior to release to the public beta testers. That process is referred to as “professional beta testing”.
Professional Beta Testing
All software has bugs. That is an axiom. However, prior to releasing software to the public, all developers need to know (and fix) all issues that compromise the software’s functionality. In addition, they need to ensure their software runs well on the myriad of desktops, laptops, and mobile devices in the marketplace.
- Towards the end of the software development life cycle, comprehensive testing guarantees a clean launch.
- The overall functionality should be exercised by professional beta testers who are completely unfamiliar with the software itself.
- Lab-based testers will find the defects and communicate them to the developers in such a way that the issues may be easily fixed. Again, this process is called “professional beta testing”.
There is a clear distinction between the two types of quality assurance listed above. Most developers and publishers agree that all software should go through a comprehensive beta testing review. And in fact, no software should be released to a public beta forum without first having been professionally beta tested.
The reason is that public beta testers are not quality assurance professionals. They are selected to participate purely because they are a likely end user of the software. If during a public beta phase they encounter a functional defect, they are not likely to be able to communicate it in a way that helps the developers locate the lines of code giving them trouble. That is the job of a professional beta tester.
Both professional beta testing and public beta testing are useful types of quality assurance and will certainly increase the likelihood of a successful launch. However, one is not a substitute for the other. In fact, whereas all publishers conduct professional beta testing, a lot fewer people conduct public beta tests due to expense.