Alpha and beta testing – what are the differences? When are they worth performing?

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Some of our initial articles focused on basic test types. But these extensive categories also consist of subgroups. And this is where the terms alpha and beta testing come in. How do they differ? What test category do they belong to? Why is mobile app beta testing and beta testing websites worth the time? Let’s discuss!

What is beta testing?

We should begin by providing definitions for both alpha and beta testing, as this will allow us to better understand the differences between them. A mobile test of a landing page or mobile app beta testing is the final verification of a product, designed to check how its functionalities fit the client’s expectations, and how well they are performing. It is important to note that beta testing is meant to be the last stage of a product’s development. This is also the time for polishing imperfections and filling in any gaps in the software.

Who is responsible for mobile app testing and beta testing websites? Beta testing only makes sense when it is done by a real potential user. It is important for the users to test on the same devices and networks as they would use in everyday situations. Professional testers rarely perform these tests however, they do assist in their organisation and prepare further recommendations.

There are two distinct types of beta testing:

  • open – anyone who wants can enter and test the product in its beta version,
  • closed – this process requires a selection of closed groups of users who are going to test the beta version of the product.

Mobile app beta testing, the beta test of a landing page, as well as beta testing websites can last for a set amount of time or be performed until new bugs stop appearing. They can be performed using appropriate beta test management software.

What are the rules of alpha testing?

Alpha tests are performed within a testing company specialised in QA. They are meant to serve as the final verification and aim to eliminate any surfacing bugs. They are one of the last stages of software development and should be performed before the product is delivered to the end client. Alpha tests are performed by professional testers who are experts in QA. They are tasked with foreshadowing user actions and testing different cases. Alpha testing is named after the phase at which they take place.

Alpha tests are performed before the product gets delivered to the end-users for beta testing.

Alpha and beta testing – differences and similarities

The definitions provided above already give us some ideas about the basic differences between alpha and beta testing. However, before we talk more about those, let us first focus on the similarities. Both of these test types belong to the user acceptance test (UAT) category. They should be performed at the final stage of testing. Alpha and beta tests are performed at the end of the production process and have a common goal- to find as many bugs as possible.

You can find more information on UAT in our other article: Acceptance tests!

There are a lot more differences than there are similarities. Let’s look at the most important ones. Some should already be obvious based on the definitions.

  • Who tests: mobile app beta testing or a beta test of a landing page is performed by end-users (“real clients) while alpha tests are performed by professional testers.
  • Testing location: alpha testing is performed in a development environment. Beta testing takes place on the end user’s devices and networks.
  • Testing techniques: beta tests use the black-box technique. Alpha testing additionally makes use of the white-box tests.
  • Result: any problems encountered during alpha testing are usually resolved by programmers. Any bugs and errors spotted by end clients are fixed exclusively using patches and updates.

When is beta testing worth performing? The benefits

Beta testing is going to allow you to learn more about your clients’ opinion about your product and what they might want to be changed, to make the experience of using the final version of your software more convenient.

Additionally, you will learn if the software is able to process all of the users’ commands and requests. Beta testing reduces the risk of serious crashes. Offering clients a chance to test your product can improve your relationship with them and have a positive impact on the company’s image.

An additional group of end-clients will feel like they are part of your team and helped build the product’s success. This means that good beta testing not only improves the quality of software but also positively influences how clients view the developer. Importantly, such testing should always be accompanied by beta test management software.

Summary: does performing beta testing make sense?

Performing mobile app beta testing, beta testing a landing page or beta testing websites will help you uncover any bugs before the final version of a product is distributed. They will prevent any major crashes and help you customize the product to fit the end users’ needs and expectations. Beta and alpha testing are the final stages of creating a product. But that does not mean, that they merely a formality. By beta testing, you can deliver a product that meets all expectations, is safe and reliable. Alpha testing, on the other hand early uncovers any bugs left after the development phase.

Check out our Software Testing!

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