The Importance of Beta Testing

By Lindsay Bartlein posted Mar 24, 2015 12:13 PM

Beta testing is an important step in the implementation of any Higher Logic online community and I wanted to take a couple minutes to talk about what it is, why it is important to all new Higher Logic communities, and how it can best be accomplished in an effective and timely manner. 

To do this, I’ve answered 5 basic questions about beta testing and have also included Higher Logic Beta Testing Tips that can be applied to any organization’s individual beta testing experience in order to improve the likelihood of a successful launch and lasting engagement across your Higher Logic online community platform.

1. WHAT Is Beta Testing?

A: Beta Testing is the testing phase prior to the launch of your Higher Logic online community site. It requires a sample group of users to complete exercises designed to test the functionality and features of the site now that the data integration between your Higher Logic site and AMS/database has been established.

HL Beta Testing Tip: Start gathering beta testers early. It’s never too soon to start looking for beta testers. Use your association’s annual meeting, other events, committee/council meetings, LinkedIn or other places your members are engaging to round up volunteers so that testing can begin as soon as Data QA is complete. 

2. WHY is Beta Testing Important?

A: Following suit with Higher Logic’s best practices, I recommend beta testing to all of my clients because it is a valuable tool because it allows people to test site usability and functionality while also giving beta testers the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the site so that they can in turn become resources for other members when the site is launched to all participants.

HL Beta Testing Tip: Turn beta testers into community champions. By giving them a pre-launch access pass to your community site, you can empower your beta testers to become your biggest community supporters. In addition to being able to provide support on general functionality they will also be integral in spreading awareness about your site. 

3. WHO should be Beta Testers?

A: Beta testers should be a representative sample of those who will be using the site. We recommend that you get try to get between 50-100 beta testers, depending on your association’s overall number of members.

It’s important that you clearly outline their tasks and that you chose beta testers who can commit to doing the exercises and providing feedback in a timely manner.

HL Beta Testing Tip: Choose a beta testing group with a wide range of technical abilities and time to complete the exercises. Even though it is designed to be very user-friendly, you want to make sure that people with a wide range of technical backgrounds/experience are part of your beta testing pool. It is also vital to have beta testers who will have the time and take the initiative to complete the beta exercises.

4. WHEN and HOW LONG should Beta Testing take?

A: Beta testing should take place after the integration link between Higher Logic and the client AMS/database has been established, the data QA signed off, but before the community is officially launched..

It is the Higher Logic best practice to allow for at least 2 weeks for Beta Testing. This 10 business day turnaround time should give testers enough time to complete the exercises and for any discrepancies that are found during that testing to be addressed by you and Higher Logic prior to the site being launched.

HL Beta Testing Tip: Make a beta testing schedule and stick with it! If you have gathered your beta testers and allotted 2 weeks for testing, stick with that deadline. You want to make sure that people are completing the testing exercises – and a firm deadline can help with that.

5. WHERE should beta testers post messages, add attachments, etc.?

A. All of your site’s beta testing should be done in an HL-managed beta testing community, most commonly name ‘Beta Testing Community.’ If you beta test for a long period of time and quality content is created, the HL team can help migrate this content to your open forum if appropriate.

HL Beta Testing: Keep the beta testing community for use following the launch of your site. Even after beta testing is done and the site launched to all members, you can still keep this beta testing community should you need to test site functionality in the future. No one outside of the beta testing community will be able to access it, and you can even remove/add members depending your testing need. 

With those 5 questions answered, I wanted to end with one more tip on beta testing:

HL Beta Testing Tip: Use beta testers as a source for seed question content. Include a beta testing exercise where users have to come up with a seed question to be posted to the Open Forum once the site is LIVE.  Seed questions are important for initiating and maintaining community engagement; by having beta testers contribute seed questions, you can save prep time for your launch.

Click here for a list of Higher Logic suggested beta testing exercises and you can also find additional beta testing guidance in the Go-to-Market (GTM) Resources section on HUG.

Happy Beta Testing!





Aug 20, 2015 04:09 PM

This is a great post, Lindsay! I completely agree with Michelle that beta testers are a great way to populate the community with content prior to a launch. I know I would be hard pressed to stick around an online community if it looked like a ghost town-- even on day one.
I love your tip about making sure you get a wide range of technical abilities when you reach out to beta testers. I was guilty of initially making a list of my old "go-to" members that I had worked with for years. While it's great to have people who you know will do the job well and are familiar with technology, it makes sense to bring in those that are a little less technologically inclined to truly test the usability and ease of your community.

Mar 30, 2015 03:01 PM

Thanks for the post - I could not agree more! I believe that our beta period (about 60 users for about 4 weeks) was critical to the successful launch and rapid adoption of our communities. Not only does it help you be sure everything is in working order and intuitive for your members, but it also is crucial in getting the conversations started. Very few people like to 'go first' at something that's new to them - but when we launched our community and members came in and saw conversations already happening, they were quick to jump in on existing discussions and felt comfortable asking new questions. I had seed questions ready to roll when we launched, but was pleased to discover that I never had to use them. Great advice, Lindsay!