How to beta-test your business: TextDater
Beta-testing is a vital step for all sorts of business. It's the last stage of testing before launching your product properly onto the world. Whether it's getting early users for your app who can give you vital feedback or 'soft-launching' a restaurant, beta-testing is important because it gets your product out there, used by real people - your customers - who can tell you what you're doing right and wrong. It can be a daunting prospect - nobody wants to put an imperfect product out there! However, developing a successful product doesn't happen in a vacuum, and if you create a product solely based on what you think your customers want, rather than what they actually want you risk not hitting the mark.
Jon Pellington received a loan from us to co-found TextDater, a dating app with a twist - you click based on personality and conversation, and only then are your photos revealed to the person you're chatting to. As with any app, getting it right is a trial and error process! Here he talks about how beta-testing has helped him develop his product.
Why we're testing
Beta testing is what you might call a necessary evil. Evil because it forces you to put your idea out there for the first time for others to judge, but necessary if you ever want your million-pound idea to become a reality.
First of all, what does it mean? A beta product is a simplified version of a finished product. It’s used to test whether or not people like the product, whether they understand the concept, and - most importantly - whether or not they’ll actually use it.
Beta testing allows you to find the hidden bugs in a product which only present themselves once it’s gone live (there are always a few that slip through, trust me). It provides you with feedback about the user experience from early testers, helping you make informed decisions about how to improve the final product.
Not only this, but it can give you a real motivational boost as for the first time it lets you understand which elements of the product resonate well with users. You might have the perfect product in mind, but you have to be sure how users will respond to it. Testing a product through a beta version allows users to feedback based on their real experiences with your product. Doing this at the start shows you’re willing to listen to your users and work with them to make improvements that enhance the product as a whole. Rather than being something to fear, beta benefits everyone.
Our big idea
TextDater turns the idea of mobile dating on its head. It lets users find others they might want to meet by bringing individual self-expression and personal interests to the fore instead of making dating all about image or appearance.
The idea came to me after one too many awkward dates arranged through other mobile apps with people chosen purely on looks. Thanks to Virgin StartUp we were able to secure a loan and had expert business advice from our dedicated business advisor. The loan has helped cover startup costs and our official launch is just weeks away - but before then, we wanted to ensure the app was providing users with the experience they would expect.
How we’ve done it
- First of all, we tested the initial ideas in our own circles of friends, adjusting plans and designs based on the feedback we received.
- Following this, we took the updated designs back to the same circles, as well as approaching other businesses and startup contacts for second thoughts
- We began talking about it openly at networking events, developing a positive approach to all feedback, positive or negative.
- Once we were satisfied the product was on the right track, we started working on the ‘Most Viable Product’ (MVP), containing all of the core features of the finished product.
- Right now: We have the MVP ready for beta testing. Through this process we expect to receive feedback based on user experience, developing our understanding of how the product works in reality.
The IOS version of TextDater ready for beta testing and we’re calling on the start-up and entrepreneurial community to be the first to test it out and provide feedback. To get involved you can email UX@textdater.mobi, register at www.textdater.mobi, or find TextDater on Twitter or Facebook. All beta testers will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win a brand new custom iPhone case, courtesy of www.giantsparrows.com (winner announced July 16th 2015).