In part five of our series, we’ll dive into how to conduct beta testing, examine who might be the best test subjects for your app, and then move into the launch preparations.

How To Bring a Killer App Idea Into Reality: This six-part series is designed to give a basic roadmap on how to get your app into the hands of the people whose lives you want to improve. Whether you just have an app idea floating in your head, or a team of coders ready to go, you’ve come to the right spot.

Beta Testing & Launch Overview

Your app’s development is nearly complete and you are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t click that publish button just yet…

You still need to put your app through quality control to make sure that it is as polished as possible, or close to it. That said, remember that “perfect” is the enemy of “done”, so don’t obsess. Hopefully, you have already conducted periodic QA testing yourself as part of the development process which eliminated the major bugs and glitches.

This preliminary testing, however, usually isn’t enough to replicate all the ways that your app might be installed, used, and configured. You’ll need a few neutral, outside, and objective sets of eyes to look at your app before it launches, which is precisely where beta testing comes in. The next step is defining the test demographic which will give you the most accurate read on your app’s success.

Three Key Questions on Beta Testing & Launch

1. How Do I Beta Test My App?
2. Who Should Beta Test My App?
3. How Do I Launch My App?

Key Question 1) How Do I Beta Test My App?

Before starting the beta, you will ideally have already decided roughly how long it’s going to last.

By cutting your testing too short, you risk missing valuable feedback that you might have received had the beta test lasted longer. If the beta stage is too lengthy, on the other hand, your testers may get bored and your app could lose all of the hype and enthusiasm surrounding it. For these reasons, most beta tests last no longer than two to three months.

“Strike the balance by maintaining momentum without sacrificing preparation.”

You can distribute the beta version of your app through a number of platforms, including TestFlight for iOS apps and the Google Play Developer Console for Android.

Once it’s installed, you can use analytics and monitoring tools to gain an understanding of how users interact with your app. Another possible option is to just launch to the App Store or Play Store and distribute the link to your beta testers, but this is a very risky move. Other people could easily discover and download your app, they won’t know it’s in beta, and a poor experience could sour the relationship or even result in negative reviews. You lose control of distribution this way, so it’s not a recommended option when you’re still in the beta phase. 

You can use A/B testing tools to help you compare and contrast different versions of a feature or interface. In order to get explicit feedback, you can also encourage testers to fill out a survey, perhaps by using the allure of early user perks (more below), or even offering a few gift cards or other prizes.

Key Question 2) Who Should Beta Test My App?

Just as you polled target users during the research and prototyping stages, strive to draw beta testers from your pool of ideal users as well. You might even go back to the same people you’ve surveyed already.

The right users in the beta phase can not only find any lingering bugs, but also can provide more valuable feedback on the app’s features. Once you’ve gone through a closed beta test that focuses on the app’s functionality, you can open it up to a wider audience. This will help you test how it performs on different operating systems, phone models, and configurations.

Finding beta testers who are passionate about your app’s mission and are willing to help out can be tricky, so you need to make it worth their time. A few ways to do this is through offering exclusive app features, public shoutouts on social media as “founding users,” digital badges, or discounts on future purchases.

Outside of pulling from your personal network, you can find beta testers via Facebook groups or other communities devoted to your topic, through online advertisements, and by asking the people who have subscriptions to your email list (if you have one – and you hopefully you do!).

Key Question 3) How Do I Launch My App?

Another indirect benefit of beta testing is that your users can help generate buzz about your app.

Before beta testing begins, you should have already laid the groundwork for your marketing strategy by creating a website or landing page, registering handles on social media, and creating promotional materials.

If you are feeling behind on this front, here is a solid 10-step guide for building pre-launch buzz around your mobile app. Better late than never!

According to a survey by the mobile platform company Tune, half of all iOS and Android users still rely on the App Store search bar as their primary method of finding new mobile apps. To capitalize on this audience, you’ll need to fine-tune your app’s icon, title, description, and keywords. Do some research into how your competitors and the top-performing apps look inside the App Store so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Prior to launch, you need to have a clear idea of the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you’ll use to judge success, such as your app’s rating, its ranking in the App Store, and the number of total and monthly downloads. Once your app has gone live, send a message about the launch to your email subscriber list, social media followers, press outlets, and any influencers you’ve identified in your app’s space who can help spread the word.

Here are a few mobile analytics and monitoring tools worth checking out:

Here are two detailed guides from our Help Center on launching apps to the App Store and Google Play:

What’s Next?

With these factors in mind, you’ll be equipped with the intel necessary for a great launch. Our next entry in this series Part Six: What Comes After App Launch (coming soon) will look at four simple steps on how to continue moving forward after publishing your app to the app stores.

Having trouble getting your big idea off the ground? Let us help you with the heavy lifting!
The Dropsource team of mobile app experts is here to help you strategize, design, and build powerful mobile apps that delight. Get in touch with us for a free consultation to see how we can help bring your killer app idea to life.